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Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report each year from the three major credit bureaus - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can order copies of your free credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com.
There are some limitation on what is provided under the FCRA.
- You may only obtain one report from each bureau per year.
- Your credit score is not included.
It is recommended that you always check your three credit scores before applying for a new credit card, personal loan, auto loan, or mortgage.
Where to Get Your Credit Score
Just below we make recommendations where you can get your credit score. The free score offered by CreditSesame provides the basics - but is not necessarily the same score . But
Basic: Free Credit Scores
CreditSesame offers a FREE version of your credit score, though not necessarily the same score as provided by the major credit bureaus. No credit card required.
Intermediate: All 3 Credit Scores
If you want more advanced credit monitoring, GoFreeCredit.com will provide you FICO credit scores from TransUnion, Experian and Equifax, as well as other credit building and protection resources.
Advanced: Credit Score, Credit Monitoring and Identity Protection
IdentityForce is able to provide you a complete package of credit score, reporting and monitoring services:
- Protection backed by a nation-wide $1 million insurance policy
- Daily 3-Bureau Credit Monitoring - Including Credit Report, Score and Score Tracker
- 24/7 fully-managed restoration services by Certified Protection Experts
- Free Two Week Trial
What is a Credit Score?
Creditors use your credit scores to determine your risk as a borrower. Your credit risk tells potential creditors whether there's a good chance you'll pay off your credit card debt or make on-time payments on a new car loan.
Better credit scores will also allow you to pay less for credit and open up more credit opportunities.
Creditors make many calculations based on your credit scores and information on your credit report. Your financial history is actually public record, and your financial information -- including payment history -- is located and condensed by three major credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.
A high score indicates you are a great candidate for paying back loans on time, while a low score means you do not have a history of responsibly paying back debts.
Credit Score Ranges
- Excellent Credit: 730 - 850
- Good Credit: 700 - 730
- Average Credit: 650 - 700
- Fair Credit: 600 - 650
- Poor Credit: Less Than 600
The data that the three credit bureaus accumulate becomes your credit report and it used to calculate your credit scores. It's important to realize that even a single piece of information can change your score and may mean the difference between getting approved for a credit card and getting rejected.
Your credit report includes identifying information (including your name, current/former addresses and employer), along with your credit and loan history, inquiries into your credit, collection records and public records, such as a tax lien or bankruptcy filing.
It is possible to end up with different credit scores from each bureau because they may be looking at slightly different information when determining your score. For that reason, we recommend checking both your score and the details of your credit reports with all 3 bureaus to confirm accuracy. It will also help you figure out what type of offers you are entitled to when seeking new lines of credit.
How Do I Learn More?
To learn more about your credit report, check out our article on Understanding Your Credit Report.
And to learn more about how your credit score is determined, check out Factors Affecting Your Credit Score.