Choosing the Best Credit Report Service

Credit reporting sites exist to help consumers and businesses obtain their credit score or report, while offering more comprehensive services, like identity theft protection and credit monitoring. The lists below can help customers identify which companies excel at a particular service and ensure that the best company is selected.

The 5 Best Free Credit Report Sites

Those looking for the best free credit report will be pleased to know that federal law requires the big three credit agencies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide one free credit report every year. Checking these credit reports is important as doing so can help you avoid becoming a victim of identity theft and gives you some idea of your overall creditworthiness. These major credit bureaus offer a way to access these reports through a site called AnnualCreditReport.com, though this is not the only way you can obtain a free report. Other companies offer free credit reports when you sign up for a trial membership of their credit monitoring services. While having to create and then unsubscribe to an account may not be appealing to some, getting access to a free credit report may be worth that extra hoop that you have to jump through.

The 5 Best Credit Monitoring Services

When looking for the best credit monitoring service, price is obviously going to be a factor. Companies that provide access to several different credit monitoring packages are likely going to be a better fit than companies that only offer one plan. Another factor that should be taken into consideration are the online tools designed to help you monitor your account. The more tools that are available to you, the more confident you'll feel that your credit file is secure and strong.

The 3 Best Credit Score Sites

Your credit score is like your financial report card, and the best credit score site will offer an easy way for you to find out your personal credit score grade from each of the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Every American is entitled to a copy of their credit report once per year. However, if you are building up or repairing your credit, it makes sense to monitor your credit score over time. The best credit score websites provide affordable subscription models so you can easily view changes to your credit score at any time. These sites usually add credit monitoring and identity theft protection services to prevent any adverse effects on your credit.

The 3 Best Business Credit Report Sites

As a small business owner, you are going to have different credit needs than an individual, so it makes sense that when shopping for credit services, you would have different priorities. Having the option to view your business credit report and scores is going to be a must, and business credit monitoring is likely to be high on the feature list, too. But another often overlooked factor that should be considered in your search for business credit services is the additional tools that the company provides to enhance your marketing campaigns and assist you with debt collection and fraud prevention. If you're torn between several companies, considering these features in addition to the price of business credit scores and reports can help you decide.

What Credit Report Features Matter and Why?

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Credit Monitoring refers to the credit monitoring services provided by the credit report company. Many of the top credit report companies monitor the most common credit scores for major changes or suspicious activity, a service which can provide credit protection to the subscriber. The best credit report companies will send email and text notifications to the subscriber, and will provide a monthly credit statement that outlines all credit activity. Credit Monitoring is an especially important category for those that need to ensure credit scores are always accurate, and those that value extra protection.

  • Email Notifications - You can receive email notifications of major changes to your credit score.
  • Equifax Monitoring - The credit company provides 24/7 monitoring of your Equifax credit file.
  • Experian Monitoring - The credit company provides 24/7 monitoring of your Experian credit file.
  • FICO Monitoring - The credit company monitors your FICO scores.
  • Identity Theft Protection - The credit score company will monitor your personal information and help you protect against identity theft.
  • Monthly Credit Statement - The credit score company provides a monthly credit statement.
  • Text Notifications - You can receive text notifications of major changes to your credit score.
  • TransUnion Monitoring - The credit company provides 24/7 monitoring of your TransUnion credit file.

Credit Reports identifies the different types of credit reports provided by the company. The majority of top credit report companies will provide access to reports from one or more of the "Big Three" credit report agencies (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion). Staying informed of all three major credit reports can be important, as individual banks, lenders, and other interested organizations may access only one or two reports when making credit-related decisions. The best credit report companies will provide access to all three reports and offer a competitively priced three-bureau credit report package. Knowing which reports a credit report company offers is a central factor in the purchasing decision, making Credit Reports a highly important category.

  • 3 Bureau Credit Report - You can get a credit report from the big three credit agencies.
  • Business Credit Report - You can get a business credit report from the credit report company.
  • Equifax Report - The credit company provides access to your Equifax credit report.
  • Experian Report - The credit company provides access to your Experian credit report.
  • Free Credit Report - The credit report company offers access to a free credit report.
  • One-Time Report - You can get a one-time credit report for a flat fee.
  • TransUnion Report - The credit company provides access to your TransUnion credit report.

Credit Scores refers to the credit scores that are provided by each credit report company. Many companies generate some form of credit score, but the most common and respected credit scores are those generated by Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, as well as the FICO Score and VantageScore. The best credit report companies grant access to all of these credit scores. Some credit report companies make it possible to get access to the credit score, without seeing a full credit report, a feature which may be valued by some consumers. Having access to a wide range of credit scores is a must for those interested in ensuring creditworthiness.

  • Equifax Score - The credit report company provides access to your Equifax credit score.
  • Experian Score - The credit report company provides access to your Experian credit score.
  • FICO Score - The credit report company provides access to your FICO credit score.
  • Instant Access - You have instant online access to your credit scores.
  • TransUnion Score - The credit report company provides access to your TransUnion credit score.
  • VantageScore - The credit report company provides access to your VantageScore.

Report Content discusses the information that is covered in the credit report. Most credit reports include a record of hard and soft inquiries, a list of which companies have made inquiries, account balances, and the creation of new accounts. The top credit reports will also provide a summary of positive and negative factors that are impacting the credit score. Although credit reports from the top credit agencies highlight similar elements, having a clear understanding of what content is covered in the credit report is important, making Report Content a valued category.

  • Account Balances - The credit report displays the balance on existing loans or credit accounts.
  • Credit Inquiries - The credit report displays the names of companies that have made inquiries regarding your credit history.
  • Credit Score Factors - The credit report presents a summary of positive and negative factors that impact your score.
  • Hard Inquiries - The credit report includes hard inquiries on your credit history.
  • New Credit Accounts - The credit report displays the creation of new credit accounts.
  • Public Records Report - The credit report company includes any information about you from public records.
  • Soft Inquiries - The credit report includes soft inquiries on your credit history when you request the report.

Onlines Tools identifies the tools and resources that are available online. All of the top credit report companies provide an online account where users can log in and access credit information, view alerts, dispute incorrect items, freeze any credit accounts with unusual behavior, and access other useful information. The best credit report companies also provide a tool that allows users to simulate how future financial decisions will impact credit scores, a great feature for those looking to repair imperfect credit. Online Tools is not the most important category, but these features will definitely be appreciated by those with a hands-on approach to credit management.

  • Dashboard - Your online account has a dashboard featuring important credit-related information.
  • Debt Profile - Your online account includes a summary of your total debt.
  • Dispute Incorrect Items - You can dispute incorrect items on your credit history online.
  • Online Account - You can create an online account to view and monitor your credit information.
  • Score Estimator - A tool exists that allows you to simulate how your future financial decisions might affect your credit score.
  • Total Credit - Your online account provides a summary of your total credit limit.
  • View Alerts - You can view alerts associated with your credit score online.

Support specifies the different ways the credit report company can be contacted when assistance is needed. Phone and email are the standard support options, but receiving support through social media sites is becoming more common. The best credit report companies also provide live chat, a great resource for those times when information is not readily available online. Having access to strong support when purchasing a credit report is not essential, especially with one-time credit report purchases. However, for those times when difficult questions arise, being able to easily reach out and get answers is a valuable characteristic of the best credit report companies.

  • Email - The company has an email or ticket system dedicated to support.
  • Live Chat - The company offers live chat support.
  • Phone - You can contact the company by phone to get support.
  • Social Media - You can contact the company with questions through social media websites.

Learning Materials refers to the resources provided by the credit report company that helps consumers gain a better understanding of credit reports and the credit industry. Many top credit report companies provide blogs, FAQs sections, and video tutorials to simplify potentially difficult material, and to help users make more informed credit report purchases. The best credit report companies also maintain a thorough knowledge base full of useful articles and other resources. Learning Materials is a less important category, but is still valued by those looking to navigate credit reports with more confidence.

  • Blog - The company maintains a blog with useful industry-related articles, tips, or other valuable content.
  • FAQs - The company provides a list of answers to frequently asked questions.
  • Knowledge Base - The company provides a knowledge base of detailed help articles.
  • Video Tutorials - The company provides video tutorials.

Mobile identifies whether the credit report company offers a mobile application and outlines the common features and functionality found in the app. Only the top credit report companies offer a mobile application, but expect this number to grow in the future. Some of the mobile features include receiving mobile alerts and having the ability to lock an account with suspicious activity from an iPhone or Android phone. Those that value technology and like to get more done on the go will appreciate mobile capabilities, but overall, Mobile is a less important category.

  • Access Account - You can access your credit report account from a mobile device.
  • Android App - The credit report company offers an Android-specific app.
  • Favorable Reviews - The credit report company has a combined 3.5 stars or greater for their iPhone and Android apps.
  • Get Credit Score - You can get your credit score through the mobile app.
  • iPhone App - The credit report company offers an iPhone-specific app.
  • Mobile Alerts - You can receive alerts for certain changes to your credit score.
  • Mobile Website - The credit report company provides a mobile-specific website.
  • Tablet - The credit report company offers a tablet-based app.

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