Free Credit Reports Aren’t Always Free

Free Credit Reports Aren’t Always Free


Free credit reports. You’ve seen these types of ads before: if you use XYZ’s service, then you can get copies of your credit reports for free. Well, in reality what they are saying isn’t wrong, but you don’t need this type of service to get your copies for free.

free credit reportYour personal credit reports are available to you for free from each of the Big 3 credit reporting bureaus. Beginning in 2005, Equifax, Trans Union, and Experian were instructed by the U.S. Congress to supply one copy of your credit report to you for free annually on demand. If you choose to order more than one copy from the same bureau within that year you will pay for your report. Moreover, if you want your credit score, you’ll have to pay a fee for this service, generally costing you between $4 and $7 per reporting bureau.

Credit Reports, Credit Scores, Credit Monitoring

On the other hand, there are companies who market free credit scores as part of their package of selling to you copies of your credit reports and credit scores. In these situations you are paying for what is already for free elsewhere while getting your credit score included with that price. Essentially you are getting your credit reports and the free credit score as part of a package which usually includes a credit monitoring service as well. Regardless, you will probably pay more for the combined service than if you were to do the work yourself. Again, since it is a service that you are buying, expect to put out some cash if you choose to go with the free credit score with credit report package angle.

Congressional Mandated Credit Reports

For consumers wanting to bypass these types of offers, a visit to is a must. Once again, with this scenario your credit report will be free but don’t look for a free credit score. The previously mentioned $4 to $7 fee will be charged to your credit card, but only if you choose to get your score.

Like so many ads you would do best to shop around and read the legal print. Yes, companies do provide a service by offering reports and scores to you. For some consumers this is a great way to have someone remind them to get copies of their reports and scores along with the added benefit of monitoring your credit for you.

Get Your Credit Reports ASAP

Regardless of what method you choose to obtain this vital information, make certain that you obtain a copy of your credit report and scores today. If you are getting ready to make a major purchase (house, vehicle, college tuition) and expect to borrow money, then obtaining this information in advance of applying for a loan is important. Most credit reports contain errors, mistakes which when corrected can lower your interest rates while increasing the odds that you’ll be approved for a loan.


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About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".