Credit Infocenter

22 Ways to Monitor Credit Reports and Scores

February 28th, 2017 · No Comments · Consumer Info

by Kristy Welsh

(Last Updated On: December 10, 2017)

22 Ways to Monitor Credit Reports and ScoresIf you don’t know all the ways to monitor credit reports and scores, you’re missing out. Because once you realize there are as many as 22 ways to go about it – both free and for a fee – the more effectively you can pick and choose a combination of things that works best for you, an essential tool in maintaining good credit, repairing bad credit, and catching mistakes and fraud so as to minimize damage.

Free Ways to Monitor Credit

1) AnnualCreditReport.com

Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you are legally entitled to see copies of your credit reports – for free and from all three major credit bureaus – every 12 months. You have to request them, though, through AnnualCreditReport.com.

Be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Your name
  • Social security number
  • Current address
  • Previous address (if you have lived at current address less than 2 years)

You will also be asked questions to verify that it is, indeed, you making the request.

If you’d rather not request your credit reports online, you can make your request by phone at 877-322-8228, or by mailing the Annual Credit Report Request Form to P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

Should you request all three at once?

You can request all three credit reports at once or you can stagger them throughout the year.

If you’re planning to apply for credit anytime soon – and you’re not sure which credit bureau the creditor is going to use – it’s probably a good idea to see all three so you can catch any errors and try and correct them, need be.

Otherwise, you may want to request one of the three every 4 months. Granted, what’s on one credit report may not be on the other two, but staggering them is generally a good way of checking in with your credit reports more than once year. (Questions about credit reports? See 11 things simply explained.)

What about your credit score?

Unlike credit reports, you are not legally entitled to see your credit score for free every year. There are however, plenty of ways to see your credit score, as outlined below. (Questions about credit scores? Make sense of them once and for all.)

Sites that monitor credit for free

You can monitor your credit reports (and scores) for free anytime you like when you sign up for any of the free credit monitoring sites listed below. You will, of course, have to give these companies access to your credit so that they can pull your credit report information and scores from the credit bureaus. Note, however, these do not count as hard inquiries so they will not affect your credit.

The credit scores provided through these services are VantageScores (and the Experian Credit Score), not FICO Scores. But it’s still a great way to monitor your credit for a couple of reasons:

  • Many lenders do you use VantageScores to make lending decisions
  • As your VantageScore goes up or down, it’s a good bet that your FICO Score is doing the same; yes, they are different scoring models, but they both use similar information to calculate a credit score (e.g., payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, credit mix, new credit)

As you’ll see, not all of these sites provide information from all three credit bureaus. So, in order to monitor all three, you’ll need to sign up for multiple sites.

Also, though all of these sites offer free ways to monitor credit, be aware that you may see offers to upgrade to a paid subscription plan.

UPDATE: Many free credit monitoring sites will not work when you have a credit freeze in place. Yet, in the wake of the Equifax hack, keeping a credit freeze on all of your credit files is recommended on a pretty much permanent basis. Note, Credit Karma will work with a credit freeze in place; you’ll just need to unfreeze it to allow Credit Karma access to your credit files then re-freeze after the sign-up process is complete.

2) Credit.com

  • Credit Report Card (limited info from Experian report)
  • VantageScore 3.0 based on Experian credit report
  • Experian Credit Score (based on their own unique algorithm)

3) Credit Karma

  • TransUnion and Equifax credit reports
  • VantageScore 3.0 based on TransUnion and Equifax credit reports

4) Credit Sesame

  • Credit Report Card (limited info from TransUnion report)
  • VantageScore 3.0 based on TransUnion credit report

5) LendingTree

  • VantageScore 3.0 based on TransUnion credit report
  • 6 factors from credit report that are impacting your score

6) myBankrate

  • TransUnion credit report
  • VantageScore 3.0 based on TransUnion credit report

7) My.CreditCards.com

  • TransUnion credit report
  • VantageScore 3.0 based on TransUnion credit report

8) Quizzle

  • TransUnion credit report
  • VantageScore 3.0 based on TransUnion credit report
  • Every 3 months

Free Credit Monitoring Sites9) WalletHub

  • TransUnion credit report
  • VantageScore 3.0 based on TransUnion credit report
  • Updated daily

Other ways to check your credit for free

10) Experian

Through its CreditWorks Basic plan, you can see your Experian credit report every 30 days. This includes credit alerts and toll-free phone support. Note, a credit freeze does not affect Experian credit monitoring.

11) Credit card issuers

Many credit card issuers make free credit scores available to consumers. As reported by NerdWallet, here are what some of the biggest credit card companies offer:

  • Free FICO Scores for anyone – Discover
  • Free VantageScores for anyone – CapitalOne
  • Free FICO Scores for all cardholders – American Express, Bank of America, Barclaycard US
  • Free FICO Scores for some accounts/cardholders – Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo

12) Adverse action notice

If you receive an adverse action notice from a creditor, you are entitled to see the credit report and/or credit score that the lender used in making its decision. Examples of adverse action include not extending you credit or making negative changes to the terms of existing credit. (Note, you must make your request for a free credit report within 60 days of receiving the notice.)

13) Risk-based pricing notice

If you receive a risk-based pricing notice from a creditor, you are entitled to see the credit report and/or credit score the lender used in making it decision. You may receive a risk-based pricing notice if you do not receive the best of credit terms due what’s in your credit report. (Note, you must make your request for a free credit report within 60 days of receiving the notice.)

Special circumstances

In addition to any of the free ways outlined above, you may also see your credit report for free if:

14) A change is made to your credit report due to a credit dispute

Just because a credit bureau tells you they’re going to make a change to a listing you disputed, that’s no guarantee it’s actually going to happen. Make sure it does by requesting a copy of the credit report so you can see the change with your own two eyes.

15) You have reason to believe the credit report is inaccurate due to fraud

The sooner you catch fraudulent activity, the more you can minimize the damage. That’s why it’s so important to request copies of your reports if you have been a victim of fraud. You could catch fraudulent uses of your existing credit or new credit lines that a thief opened in your name.

16) You are unemployed and looking for work

Some employers check credit reports, particularly for positions that require the handling of financial or sensitive personal information. That’s why it might be a good idea to check what’s on your credit reports before you start looking for work. (Note, written permission from you is required before any employer can view your credit reports. And employers do not see credit scores.)

17) You are receiving public welfare assistance

Though your receipt of public welfare assistance will not show up on your credit reports, receiving it does entitle you to an extra credit report every year.

18) Your state offers a free credit report

Your entitlement to a free credit report via AnnualCreditReport.com is a federal law. So, if your state has a similar law of its own, that could get you another free report during the same 12-month period.

Paid Credit Monitoring

Credit monitoring through the credit bureaus

19) TransUnion

1-Bureau Credit Monitoring – Subscription

For $9.95 a month, TransUnion says you get:

  • Access to your TransUnion credit report and VantageScore 3.0
  • Alerts when significant changes are made to any of the big three credit reports
  • Alerts when credit is applied for in your name (if you didn’t do it, you know there’s been some sort of mistake or identity theft)
  • Ability to lock and unlock access to your TransUnion credit report
  • Personalized Debt Analysis and Credit Score Trending
  • Score simulator that lets you test how certain credit choices might change your scores
  • Toll-free access to identity theft specialists
  • Up to a million dollars of identity theft insurance

20) Experian

Experian CreditWorks 1-Bureau Credit Monitoring – Subscription

For $1, you can start the 7-day free trial membership. If you do not cancel after 7 days, you are automatically enrolled into Experian’s credit monitoring subscription service for $21.95 a month. Whether it’s just for 7 days or ongoing via the month-to-month service, Experian says you get:

  • Access to your Experian credit report and FICO Score 8
  • Experian credit alerts
  • FICO Score tracker with alerts
  • Toll-free support 7 days a week

Experian CreditWorks 3-Bureau Credit Monitoring – Subscription

For $4.99 your first month and $24.99 for subsequent months, Experian says you get:

  • Quarterly access to your credit reports and FICO Scores from all three credit bureaus
  • Daily access to Experian credit report and FICO Score 8
  • Credit alerts
  • Fraud resolution support
  • Up to a million dollars identity theft insurance

Experian 3-Bureau Credit Monitoring – One Time

For a fee of $39.95, Experian says you get one-time access to your credit reports and FICO Score 8 from all three bureaus.

21) Equifax

UPDATE: In response to the hack, Equifax is not offering paid subscriptions at this time, but free credit monitoring through TrustedID Premier. Learn more.

Equifax Complete Premiere Plan – Subscription

For $19.95 a month, Equifax says you get:

  • Regular access to Equifax Credit Score, which is based on their own unique algorithm (not FICO or VantageScore)
  • Annual access to 3-bureau Equifax Credit Scores and credit profiles
  • Alerts when changes are made to credit reports of all three bureaus
  • Alerts when changes are made to your Equifax Credit Score
  • Lost wallet assistance and financial alerts
  • Internet scanning for your information on suspicious websites
  • Automatic fraud alerts
  • Up to a million dollars identity theft insurance

Equifax Complete Advantage Plan – Subscription

For $17.95 a month, Equifax says you get:

  • Regular access to Equifax Credit Score (not FICO or VantageScore) based on Equifax credit report
  • Annual access to 3-bureau Equifax Credit Scores and credit profiles
  • Alerts when changes are made to credit reports of all three bureaus
  • Lost wallet assistance and financial alerts
  • Up to $25,000 identity theft insurance

Equifax Complete Family Plan – Subscription

For $29.95 a month, Equifax says you get:

  • Credit monitoring for two adults
  • Alerts when changes are made to credit reports of all three bureaus
  • Regular access to Equifax Credit Score (not FICO or VantageScore) based on Equifax credit report
  • Annual access to 3-bureau Equifax Credit Scores and credit profiles
  • Lost wallet assistance and financial alerts
  • Internet scanning for your information on suspicious websites
  • Automatic fraud alerts
  • Up to a million dollars identity theft insurance
  • Monitoring and locking of Equifax credit reports for up to four children

Score Watch 1-Bureau Credit Monitoring – Subscription

For $14.95, Equifax says you get:

  • Access to Equifax credit reports twice a year
  • Access to FICO Score 5 (based on Equifax credit report) twice a year
  • Alerts when significant changes are made to Equifax credit report or FICO Score

22) myFICO.com

FICO Essentials 1-Bureau Credit Monitoring – Subscription

For $19.95 a month, myFICO says you get:

  • Access to Equifax credit report
  • Access to FICO Scores 8 and 9, and industry-specific scores (e.g., credit cards, auto, mortgage)
  • Alerts when significant changes are made to your credit report and scores
  • Analysis of what’s affecting your FICO Score 8
  • Credit score simulator that lets you test how certain credit choices might change your FICO Score 8

FICO Ultimate 3-Bureau Credit Monitoring – Subscription

For $29.95 a month, myFICO says you get:

  • Access to credit reports from all three bureaus
  • Access to FICO Scores 8 and 9, and industry-specific scores (e.g., credit cards, auto, mortgage) from all three bureaus
  • Alerts when significant changes are made to your credit report and scores
  • Analysis of what’s affecting your FICO Score 8
  • Credit score simulator that lets you test how certain credit choices might change your FICO Score 8

FICO Score 1-Bureau Report – One Time

For a one-time fee of $19.95, myFICO says you get:

  • One-time access to your credit report from the bureau of your choice
  • One-time access to FICO Scores 8 and 9 – and industry-specific scores (e.g., credit cards, auto, mortgage) – from the bureau of your choice
  • Analysis of top factors affecting your FICO Score 8
  • Credit simulator that lets you test how certain credit choices might change your FICO Score 8

FICO Score 3-Bureau Report – One Time

For a one-time fee of $59.85, myFICO says you get:

  • One-time access to your credit report from all three credit bureaus
  • One-time access to FICO Scores 8 and 9 – and industry-specific scores (e.g., credit cards, auto, mortgage) – from all three credit bureaus
  • Analysis of top factors affecting your FICO Score 8
  • Credit simulator that lets you test how certain credit choices might change your FICO Score 8

The Ultimate (Free) Credit Monitoring ComboFinding the Right Credit Monitoring Combo

Only you know the combination of approaches that works best for you to monitor credit reports and scores. But here’s one way to do it.

On a regular basis, get all that you can for free:

  • Free credit reports every 12 months from AnnualCreditReport.com
  • Free credit monitoring subscriptions from Credit.com (for Experian) and Credit Karma (for TransUnion and Equifax)
  • Free FICO Score through Discover or your credit card issuer
  • Free credit reports and scores for various special circumstances outlined above (as applicable)

Then for those times when you’re ready to finance something big – like a car or a house – it’s a good idea to pay to see the credit score lenders are likely to use in that lending decision. The FICO Score 3-Bureau Report will give you one-time access to that information, or go with the FICO Ultimate plan for monthly access (to the same information), which you can cancel anytime.

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