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Credit Report Offers: Free and For a Fee

Written by: Kristy Welsh

Last Updated: March 28, 2017

You know you need to see your credit reports before you even begin to repair your credit, but do know the best places to find them? Even if you already use AnnualCreditReport.com, that’s just scratching the surface. You can see your credit reports through numerous sites all year long — some for free, others for a fee. This comparison guide should help you make sense of the most popular (and legitimate) offers out there, so you can whittle them down into the best possible combination of credit report monitoring and to help you fix your credit.  

How to Order Free Credit Reports

1) AnnualCreditReport.com

Of all the credit report offers on this list, this is the one you do not want to skip. By law, you are entitled to see your credit reports for free — from all three credit bureaus — once a year. This is the authorized site you should be using to exercise this annual right:

  • By request through AnnualCreditReport.com every 12 months
  • Full credit reports from all three credit bureaus — TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax
  • See all three reports at once or stagger them throughout the year

NOTE: To see your credit reports, you must provide the personal information necessary to verify your identity and access your records. If you would rather not provide this information online, you can make your request by phone at 877-322-8228. Or fill out the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

2) Credit report monitoring

Though seeing your credit reports once a year is helpful, it’s really the bare minimum of credit report monitoring you should be doing on a regular basis. That’s why it’s a good idea to supplement AnnualCreditReport.com with one or more subscriptions to free credit monitoring sites.

Here’s a list of the top sites for seeing credit reports, as well as credit scores (VantageScores, not FICO).

By the way, Credit.com and Credit Sesame only show you a "Credit Report Card" for free; to see the full credit report through these sites, you’ll have to pay a fee. Quizzle also charges a fee for upgrade plans.

Credit.com

  • Credit Report Card* (limited info from Experian credit report)
  • VantageScore 3.0 based on Experian credit report (not a FICO Score)
  • Experian Credit Score (based on Experian’s own unique algorithm)
  • Updated every 2 weeks

*For a fee, you can see your full Experian credit report through Credit.com. (See details in “For a Fee” section below.)

Credit Karma

  • TransUnion and Equifax credit reports
  • VantageScore 3.0 based on Experian credit report (not a FICO Score)
  • Updated every 7 days

Credit Sesame

  • Credit Report Card* (limited info from TransUnion credit report)
  • VantageScore 3.0 based on TransUnion credit report (not a FICO Score)
  • Updated monthly

*For a fee, you can see your full Experian credit report through Credit Sesame. (See details in "For a Fee" section below.)

myBankrate

  • TransUnion credit report
  • VantageScore 3.0 based on TransUnion credit report (not a FICO Score)
  • Updated monthly

CreditCards.com

  • TransUnion credit report
  • VantageScore 3.0 based on TransUnion credit report (not a FICO Score)

Quizzle

  • TransUnion credit report
  • VantageScore 3.0 based on TransUnion credit report (not a FICO Score)
  • Updated every 3 months*

*For a fee, you can see credit reports through Quizzle more frequently. (See details in “For a Fee” section below.)

WalletHub

  • TransUnion credit report
  • VantageScore 3.0 based on TransUnion credit report (not a FICO Score)
  • Updated daily

NOTE: If you’re only going to subscribe to one of these sites, make it Credit Karma, as they show you credit reports from both TransUnion and Equifax. But it’s worth signing up for Credit.com, too. Even though the free option only includes a “Credit Report Card,” you at least get insight into your third credit report (and score) – from Experian.

3) Credit bureaus

There’s not a lot the credit bureaus offer for free, so it’s worth taking advantage of this free offer from Experian.

Experian CreditWorks Basic

  • See your Experian credit report every 30 days

NOTE: This makes a good supplement to Credit.com. Credit.com updates your Experian credit information every two weeks, but it’s only a Credit Report Card. Experian CreditWorks Basic shows your actual credit report.

Credit Reports For a Fee

1) Credit monitoring

All of the following sites offer free services (listed above), but if you want to see your full credit reports through Credit.com or Credit Sesame, it’s going to cost you. The same is true if you want to see your credit reports more frequently through Quizzle.

Credit.com — $21.95/month*

  • Experian credit report
  • Experian FICO Score

*Start 7-day trial membership for $1. If you don’t cancel before the 7 days is over, the subscription kicks in for $21.95 a month.

Credit Sesame — $9.95 to $15.95/month

  • One-time TransUnion credit report — $9.95 (flat fee)
  • Monthly credit reports from all three bureaus — $15.95 (recurring monthly)

Quizzle — $8 to $15/month

  • TransUnion credit report
  • VantageScore 3.0 based on TransUnion credit report (not a FICO Score)
  • Updated monthly

NOTE: We do not recommend any of these paid services. You can see your full Experian credit report for free through Experian CreditWorks Basic. You can see your full TransUnion credit report for free every 7 days through Credit Karma (as well as Equifax). WalletHub updates TransUnion credit reports daily. And as for your FICO Score, you can see that for free through Discover Credit Scorecard.

2) Credit bureaus

This next section might feel a bit overwhelming. If so, it might be worth skipping to our note at the end explaining why we don’t recommend any of these paid credit bureau services anyway.

Experian

Experian CreditWorks 1-Bureau Credit Monitoring — $21.95/month*

  • Experian credit report
  • FICO Score 8

*Start 7-day trial membership for $1. If you don’t cancel before the 7 days is over, the subscription kicks in for $21.95 a month.

Experian CreditWorks 3-Bureau Credit Monitoring — $24.99/month*

  • Quarterly access to credit reports and FICO Scores from all three credit bureaus
  • Daily access to Experian credit report and FICO Score 8

*$4.99 your first month

Experian 3-Bureau Credit Monitoring — $39.95 one-time fee

  • One-time access to your credit reports from all three bureaus
  • One-time access to FICO Score 8 from all three bureaus

Equifax

Equifax Complete Premiere Plan — $19.95/month

  • 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

Equifax Complete Advantage Plan — $17.95/month

  • 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

Equifax Complete Family Plan — $29.95/month

  • 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
  • Covers two adults

Score Watch 1-Bureau Credit Monitoring — $14.95/month

  • Access to Equifax credit reports twice a year
  • Access to FICO Score 5 (based on Equifax credit report) twice a year

TransUnion

1-Bureau Credit Monitoring — $9.95/month

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

NOTE: Since we have already outlined in previous sections how to see your credit reports for free, there is no reason to pay for them through the credit bureaus. Yes, these paid services give you access to FICO Scores. But you can see your FICO Score for free through Discover Credit Scorecard. And if it’s industry-specific FICO Scores you need, pay for them through myFICO.com (details below).

3) myFICO.com

Though it’s never necessary to pay to see your credit reports, it might be worth paying to see your industry-specific credit scores when you’re looking for auto or home financing. In that case, myFICO.com is the way to go.

FICO Essentials 1-Bureau Credit Monitoring — $19.95/month

  • Equifax credit report
  • FICO Scores 8 and 9, and industry-specific scores

FICO Ultimate 3-Bureau Credit Monitoring — $29.95/month

  • Credit reports from all three bureaus
  • FICO Scores 8 and 9, and industry-specific scores

FICO Score 1-Bureau Report — $19.95 one-time fee

  • 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

FICO Score 3-Bureau Report — $59.85 one-time fee

  • 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

NOTE: Of the four options above, we recommend the FICO Score 3-Bureau Report (for one-time access) or FICO Ultimate (for monthly access you can cancel anytime). The exception would be if you know which bureau a lender is going to check; in that case, 1-bureau credit monitoring may be all you need.

Ordering Credit Reports Summary

You’ll find the best credit report offers through:

  1. AnnualCreditReport.com for free reports from all three bureaus once a year
  2. Credit Karma for free reports (and VantageScores) from TransUnion and Equifax all year long
  3. Credit.com for a free Credit Report Card (and VantageScore) from Experian all year long
  4. Experian CreditWorks Basic for free access to your Experian credit report every 30 days

If it’s a FICO Score you need, subscribe to the free Discover Credit Scorecard. And for industry-specific FICO Scores, pay for FICO Score 3-Bureau Report or FICO Ultimate through myFICO.com.

Now comes the next step – figuring out what to do with the information you find on your credit reports. Check out our 20-Step Guide to DIY Credit Repair.