If you’re looking for an “absolutely free credit report with no trial required,” there’s really only one place to go.
The credit bureaus offer this type of free credit report with absolutely no strings attached at Annualcreditreport.com, as required by federal law.
I say no strings, but that doesn’t mean they won’t bombard you with advertising once you do order your free credit report.
Picture e-mail after e-mail urging you to buy a credit score from them. Pretty clever how they created a great marketing channel for themselves after they were forced to hand out free credit reports to consumers.
Credit Report Sans Credit Score
Okay, enough of my rant. While it is absolutely free, no trial, no sign-up, no credit card needed, no nonsense, it doesn’t include a free credit score, so it may not be what you’re looking for.
Most consumers don’t even know how to read a credit report, so their interest lies in that ever-powerful three-digit credit score.
But having free access to your credit report, even if it doesn’t include the credit score, isn’t a bad thing.
You get all the information you’d get on a typical credit report that you’d have to pay for (or at least sign up for via a free trial) without all the hassle.
With AnnualCreditReport.com, you’re limited to one credit report from each of the 3 major credit bureaus once per year, so you can order all three at once, or spread it out through the year so it’s staggered.
Keep in mind that information is reported differently amongst bureaus, so be sure to track all three if you want the complete picture.
Start with the Free Credit Report
Personally, I like to start with a free credit report to determine if a paid or trial credit report complete with credit score is actually necessary.
If I don’t see anything derogatory or fishy on the initial credit report ordered, I can get a fair estimate of my credit score using my handy credit score range as a barometer (what is a good credit score?).
Warning: When signing up for the absolutely free credit report via the government website, watch out for attempts by the credit bureaus to charge you for a credit score or “more access.”
Be sure to click on the “no thanks” tabs when prompted, usually below the oversized print telling you to sign up for full access. =)
Update: You can now gain free access to your credit report (based on TransUnion data) via Credit Karma. The company that brought you free credit scores now offers free credit reports as well, which are currently in beta.
Their so-called “full credit report” displays an overview of your credit profile, along with your open and closed accounts, balances, payment history, and more.
Overall, it’s a nice tool to go along with the federally mandated free credit report. I like that I can check it periodically throughout the year as opposed to ordering one free report annually, or every 4 months via the three different bureaus.
When it comes to credit reports, it’s important to get timely information. The downside is that the data only comes from one credit bureau, so it could still miss some things. But then again, the credit reports via AnnualCreditReport.com are also per bureau as well, it’s just that you can order all three.
For the record, my full credit report from Credit Karma seems to be pretty accurate. All my accounts are listed, even fairly new ones. Check it out if you’ve got a CK account.