Updated: February 12, 2014
AnnualCreditReport.com was set up by the three major credit bureaus to comply with the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) Act and is the fastest and easiest way to get your free credit report. After filling out some identity verification questions, you'll be directed to the credit bureaus' websites where you can view your reports and purchase your credit scores, if you wish. You are only allowed one free credit report per year through AnnualCreditReport.com, though, so if you've already used yours, you'll have to wait another 12 months before you can check them again. AnnualCreditReport.com keeps things simple and only offers reports. If you're interested in more comprehensive services like credit monitoring, you may want to look at some other companies.
If you're looking for the best free credit report, Equifax will probably be near the top of your list. They offer one free credit report per year, which includes all the information common to a credit report, like hard and soft inquiries on your account, balances of loans and credit accounts, and information from public records. If after seeing your free credit report, you decide that you would be interested in more comprehensive credit services, Equifax makes an excellent choice. Offering access to all the major credit reports and scores, solid identity protection features, and even a mobile app. Equifax ranks at the top of the industry and is a great option for anyone looking to learn more about or protect their creditworthiness.
Experian offers one free credit report every 12 months, in accordance with the FACT Act. This credit report includes information about your accounts, credit history, and any inquiries that have been made. For those interested in getting more than just a free credit report, Experian offers reports from the other two credit bureaus along with credit monitoring, strong identity protection features, and some of the best online tools in the business. These additional features will come at a cost, but they can be valuable assets when it comes to keeping your credit score safe and strong and are definitely worth looking into.
By law, TransUnion is required to provide one free credit report each year, as are the other two major credit agencies. However, TransUnion makes that information really difficult to find on its site, which can be a little irritating for those who know that they are entitled to one free credit report but are not sure how to get it. With this report, you'll get access to all of your important credit information, including a summary of inquiries, account balances, and information about you from public records. In addition to a free credit report, TransUnion also offers a free credit score to those who sign up for a seven-day trial membership of their credit monitoring service. You must remember to cancel the trial membership within the first week or else you will be charged, but it is still nice to be able to get access to your credit score for free.
With a 10-day free trial of Score Watch from MyFICO, you can get access to your FICO score and a free credit report. However, unlike some other companies in this list, MyFICO only provides you with a free credit report from Equifax. In addition, you will have to remember to cancel your subscription to Score Watch within the trial period or you will be charged for the service. It is important to note, however, that this offer is somewhat unique in that it is the only free credit report that gives you access to your FICO score, the one that is most commonly used by lenders in the U.S. to determine an individual's creditworthiness. If this score is particularly important to you, it might just be worth the hassle of unsubscribing to the trial membership.