Tips to Consider When Choosing The Best Credit Report Site

ElitePersonalFinance
Last Update: August 30, 2021 Credit Report Identity Theft

Do you want to get your credit report?

Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion – or maybe even Innovis? Which one to choose?

What if you could get more for your money?

ElitePersonalFinance is all about saving its readers money; we really think you might reconsider how you go about requesting your credit report if only you knew how it could benefit you!

But first … here are some things we should cover!

Full Credit Report vs. Credit Summary

You will find a few different ways to obtain your credit report at no cost. The most obvious is directly through the bureaus, but you can do the same with third-party sites like CreditKarma and CreditSesame. Except, you receive a ‘credit summary’ instead of a full copy of your credit report.

Realistically, the credit report summary is just as good as your full credit report. It will contain nearly all the same information — including the different assets, credit cards, auto loans, home loans, and other loans — that shows up on your actual credit report. The summary will also show other items, such as debt in collections, public records, derogatory items, hard and soft inquiries, and more.

Free Credit Report Entitlement

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) must supply American consumers with a free copy of their credit report every year. More specifically, an individual must be allowed to request and receive a report after 12 months.

This free credit report can be requested by each bureau individually or through AnnualCreditReport.com, which we will discuss later. Either way, you have the option to space out your credit report requests.

This means you could get a report from one bureau now, wait four months for another, and then do the last one four months after that. In the end, doing so will allow you to receive at least one of your credit reports every four months — which works well for ongoing credit report monitoring purposes.

Which Credit Bureau Should You Pull from?

First off, what is your reason for needing your report?

If you need to show it to a prospective lender, ask them which bureau they use. It is usually fine to pull from any of the three in any other circumstance.

If you actually want to know your credit score, keep in mind that the score you get will be based on the respective report’s information. For instance, the data on your Equifax report will dictate your Equifax FICO score – both data and scores can fluctuate by the bureau, depending on what information they have on you.

Check out our post on how to read your credit report better to understand all the information on your credit report and handle any errors you find.

What about Getting Your Credit Score?

The information on your credit report is used to calculate your credit score. However, the two pieces of information are completely separate items. You are entitled to a free credit report from each bureau every year — but this doesn’t extend to your credit score. In fact, even AnnualCreditReport.com tries to upsell users on buying their credit score.

Thankfully, there are many great ways to obtain your FICO score. We’ll cover some options once we get through the tips on choosing the best credit report site to use.

And now, let’s get on with your best options of both free & paid credit report sites …

Get a Free Credit Report from Credit Bureaus

If you want to check your credit report, request your free copy from each credit bureaus.

This can be done directly, and you are entitled to ONE free report from every bureau every year.

Equifax

Experian

TransUnion

Innovis

Alternatively, AnnualCreditReport.com is another resource for your free annual credit report — it works for Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion credit report requests. The US Government permits this website to provide consumers with a free copy of their credit report. In fact, it is the only website that has the authority to do so.

If you already requested a free credit report from each of the three bureaus above, or at least from the bureau you need the report from, you might not be out of luck just yet.

Other Free Credit Report Sources

There are no other services specifically marketed for offering your free annual credit report as per the law. Yet, you will find numerous free services that come with free credit reports — so technically, there are other options out there.

CreditKarma (Equifax & TransUnion)

You can sign up for CreditKarma for free. Doing so will gain you access to your credit report and score at no cost. It will also update your report and score weekly. You will only get information from your Equifax and TransUnion reports at this time.

The coolness of CreditKarma does not stop there. As you navigate their site, you will quickly notice the following great features: credit building and tracking tools, instant credit score access, a credit score simulator, a credit report card, and much more.

You get to see, in easy-to-read metrics, how your credit is doing and what you can do to improve it. Anyone going in expecting just a free credit report will be in for a surprise!

CreditSesame (Experian)

CreditSesame is very similar to CreditKarma, but they do not offer a very analytic take on your credit and debit accounts. You can still look over your credit report through CreditSesame, which updates every second month. Further, you can order your credit report from all three bureaus for $9 through the CreditSesame website.

CreditSesame does offer some extra credit tools, but they are more focused on pairing you with promotional offers. While the promotions are usually good and accurate for your needs, anyone looking to improve their credit will have more luck when using CreditKarma’s free service instead.

Quizzle (Equifax)

You are entitled to two free credit reports each year through Quizzle, one every six months. Their credit monitoring service compares to what you get with CreditKarma. But Quizzle tends to beat out both CreditKarma and CreditSesame when it comes to free credit reports. The other two only offer “partial” reports, while Quizzle truly gives its users two free (and full) credit reports.

While their free services are great, we recommend avoiding their paid plans as they only utilize information from one of the three bureaus. Their credit scores are not FICO scores but actually VantageScore ratings.

What About Identity Theft + Credit Monitoring Combined?

In a “two birds, one stone” scenario, one could picture signing up for identity theft protection and getting all the rewards of credit monitoring at the same time. Certainly, it is an option, but many are not aware some plans exist offering all this for the same price as typical identity theft protection.

The Best Paid Credit Report Sites

  • IdentityForce (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion)

This is the less known of the three, but it comes with a lot of value. For $14.95 per month, you can get their comprehensive identity theft protection plan. At $19.95 per month, you get their version of Ultimate Plus, a combination of identity theft protection and credit monitoring services. For a lower cost than Ultimate Plus, you get much of the same — and, impressively, your credit report and score is supplied FOUR times a year from the three major bureaus.

  • IdentityGuard (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion)

This company offers a comprehensive Platinum Plan, which features their identity theft protection plan ‘Total Protection’ and monthly credit report and score updates from the three major bureaus. Their full identity theft protection plan costs $20, and it’s just another $5 to add credit services.

You will mainly get a FREE credit report and score EVERY SINGLE MONTH!

Get Your FICO Score Too?

Save yourself the stress and look for a credit report site without worrying about your score. Even if you need to find it out, there are many free ways to acquire your FICO score. So if your optimal credit report site does not offer it, you can still get your credit report there and obtain your score elsewhere.

Here are some quick ways to get your FICO score for free.

  • Qualify through the Open Access program. Thanks to FICO’s Open Access program, almost one-third of America’s population can get their credit score for free. Find out if any of your debit and/or credit card issuers offer free scores through this program.
  • Request full disclosure on any pre-approval. If a card issuer or lender wants to extend credit to you, they might pre-approve you for a certain amount after pulling your report and score. You have the right to ask for full disclosure, which would gain you access to your credit rating, supposing your file was pulled. If you check your report for recent soft inquiries, you might find a lender that works with this trick.
  • Check online if you have a Sallie Mae student loan. Anyone with an outstanding loan through Sallie Mae can access their account, go to the ‘Customer Service’ area and then choose to view their credit score from there. This score gets updated monthly, making it the perfect option for most students.
  • Be careful. Some free credit scores are ‘FAKO scores .’ Getting them doesn’t really help as lenders rarely use them to qualify borrowers.

Please read up on our other options to get your FICO score for free.

Read our post about the best credit report site.

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