Your credit score is one of the most important financial factors when it comes to getting approved for credit cards, mortgages, auto loans and other types of debt products. Because of this, it’s important that you check your credit score regularly and monitor for changes. Paying a credit card bill late, carrying too high of balances or fraud can all impact your credit score - meaning that you may end up not getting approved for a certain product or paying a higher interest rate.
We’ve reviewed around 15 different free resources, apps and tools to give you unbiased advice on the best ways to get your free credit report and track changes to your credit score automatically. Here are the ones to consider:
Summary: AnnualCreditReport.com is the only website that’s authorized by federal law to provide you with your free credit report from each of the bureaus every 12 months. You’ll get 1 report from Equifax, Experian and Transunion.
Birch Comments: The site isn’t as attractive as other credit report sites, but it’s free, legit and get’s the job done. It only took me a few minutes and a struggle with captcha to verify my identity and pull back a report from all 3 companies. One limitation is that if you exit out of your browser you lose access to the report, so make sure you save each one to your computer.
CreditWise by Capital One
Summary: Capital One has been one of the most forward thinking banks when it comes to offering products to all consumer and improving their tech. CreditWise is free for anyone, including non Capital One cardholders, to track your credit score and monitor for changes. They pull from one bureau - Transunion - and provide ongoing tracking and a simulator to test for changes.
Birch Comments: We like Capital One’s CreditWise app because it’s super easy to use, doesn’t have any pushy product placements and is totally free. It’s trustworthy since it comes from the bank itself and is a nice product being offered by a bank that puts consumers first.
Summary: Credit Karma is the top, non-bureau affiliated credit report and credit score tracking tool. With over 75 million users, they consistently rank of one the top and most trusted credit resources available. It’s totally free, no credit card required and you’ll get your score and report from both TransUnion and Equifax.
Birch Comments: Credit Karma is definitely the gold standard of credit score tools. You can take their apps on the go or use the website to see actionable recommendations on how to improve your credit score and the factors that impact it. It’s easy to navigate, has a clean and simple design and just works. You can set up alerts for when your credit score changes or there’s a new inquiry. We give it a 4.5/5 stars because their credit card recommendations aren’t very personalized.
Sites you should avoid:
Ideally, avoid any sites that charge you for a “$1 month trial”, as they’ll most likely hook you in for a monthly subscription fee of anywhere between $10-$12 after that promo ends. TransUnion and Equifax were actually hit with a pretty big lawsuit recently for deceiving customers into paying for their credit scores through a monthly subscription fee. If you’re interested in fraud protection, you’ll have to do some more research to see which company is the best provider. But, for the most part, there are ample free services that you shouldn’t need to be paying for your credit score or report.
I know, it sounds silly that the bureaus would be on the list of sites to avoid, but unfortunately they’re some of the worst when it comes to charging consumers exorbitant fees. In this case, it’s a $1 month trial and then $21.95 after that for your three scores and basic monitoring!
This site is owned by TransUnion, but they’ll charge you $9.95 a month to get all three credit reports. You shouldn’t be paying for your credit report, so sign up for a service like CreditKarma who gives this info for free. You’ll get almost identical credit alerts and monitoring of your accounts.