REALLY Free Credit Reports & Scores

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

You know those awful commercials for freecreditreport.com (link purposely excluded). They sure get your attention, right? Turns out, it is not really free. At all.

Check out the fine print:

“IMPORTANT INFORMATION
When you order your free report here, you will begin your free trial membership in Triple AdvantageSM Credit Monitoring. If you don’t cancel your membership within the 7-day trial period**, you will be billed $14.95 for each month that you continue your membership. ConsumerInfo.com, Inc. and Freecreditreport.com are not affiliated with the annual free credit report program. Under a new Federal law, you have the right to receive a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies. To request your free annual report under that law, you must go to www.annualcreditreport.com.”

And of course, they require a credit card upon sign up. Boo, hiss.

Thankfully, there are alternatives. While I don’t believe a credit score is terribly important (Dave Ramsey fan, here), I do think it is wise to monitor your credit regularly. Identity theft is all too common to ignore what could potentially pop up on your report.

I recommend 2 resources for 100% free, 100% safe credit reports and scores.

The first is thanks to a Federal Law: www.annualcreditreport.com

This helpful site gives you access to all 3 credit bureaus one time per year. You can space them out every 4 months for better monitoring. This will give you detailed information about all of your debt, accounts, and/or collections. What is does not give you is a score. That will cost you.

This is where my second recommendation comes in handy: CreditKarma.com

I was skeptical of Credit Karma for a long time. However, I noticed several other personal finance bloggers recommending it, so I gave it a shot. Credit Karma provides its users with a credit score, and some basic info about your debt. There is no credit card required, and no strings attached. It is completely free. How, you wonder?

Very simply– ads. From their website:

How can this be free when other services charge people?
Our free credit scores are sponsored by partners who share our vision that consumers should have free and regular access to their score.
With that said, rest assured that Credit Karma will never share your information with third parties or even our partners without your explicit permission. Our privacy policy has been reviewed and approved by TRUSTe, an independent third party, to ensure your privacy is strictly protected.”

While there are many ads on Credit Karma, you can simply choose to ignore them and check your score.  A common misconception is that checking your credit can lower your score. Not the case when you are the one checking it.

I decided to check mine today just out of sheer curiosity.  Since my husband and I paid off all of our credit card debt last summer, I wondered how this would impact the score.  Just as I expected, it was actually lower than I remember it. A high credit score typically results from frequent use of credit.

Yes, cutting up all your credit cards, paying them off, and closing your accounts will actually lower your score.  And that is just fine with me!

“Debt is normal. Be weird.”

Comments

  1. says

    FYI, even without debt, your credit score is important–it can affect how much you pay for auto insurance, among other things. Some jobs require a credit check before employment, especially jobs where you need to able to be bonded or have a security clearance.

  2. says

    Thanks for pointing out credit karma! I usually check my credit yearly, but this will allow a closer watch. And even if you don’t experience identity theft, its good to know whats on there. My husband looked at his credit report a few months ago and found out he had multiple open credit cards, including one with absolutely no perks that he hadn’t used since 2003 but had open since be was 18. (Ironically, we never noticed it when we were buying a house 2 years ago. I think we just saw our scores and thought, yay we have good credit, and didn’t look any farther.)

    And, Charlene is right about good credit getting you good insurance rates. We have full coverage on a newer vehicle and we pay the lowest amount possible. Why? We have good credit. We do use one credit card for most of the household purchases, but we don’t carry a balance. Still haven’t run into a job that requires a credit check though, just criminal background checks.
    .-= Rebecca´s last blog ..Taking Flight! =-.

  3. says

    This is sooo true!

    And, when you try to cancel (from the company whose link you excluded), they give you the run-around. One of the CS reps would NOT let me cancel… even though I gave them my SS#, my DOB, EVERYTHING! She said the reason she couldn’t cancel was because the maiden name I gave for my mother was incorrect. I was like, “WHA???”

    So, I gave it a few days, called back, and the CS rep I got that time was like, “No problem.” And, it was canceled immediately.

    Stay away! Stay very far away! {giggle}
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Yummy Mochas with Alyssa =-.

  4. Rachel says

    Love annualcreditreport.com…I’ve used it for years and I’ve always felt safe about it. Only thing is you can only get one a year but if you spread it out right since there are three agencies you can get a free credit report every 4 months. :)

  5. says

    I’ve never heard of credit karma before. I’ll have to try it out! We get a free credit report every year from the free gov’t approved site…and it annoys me so much how all the other sites deliberately try to deceive you into thinking they are free also.

  6. Stephanie B says

    I love that you mentioned Dave Ramsey in your post. I am totally with you there! We will be totally debt free including our house in 6 years!! His book “The Total Money Makeover” has changed our lives! It would be wonderful if you could do a post about that book and his website!!

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