You may already know that it’s important to routinely monitor your personal credit information (it is!) You want to be on the lookout for fraud, but you also want to track your own creditworthiness so you don’t overpay when it comes time to borrow money.
Here, I’ll describe as simply as possible how to check your own credit for free without using a service that requires a credit card and starts billing you if you don’t cancel.
An honestly free credit score and report
There are a few places you can now get a totally free credit score, but the one I recommend most at the moment is Credit Sesame.
Credit Sesame provides you with instant, totally free access to your TransUnion credit score and report as well as:
- Free monthly updates to your TransUnion credit score and report
- Daily monitoring and alerts of changes to your TransUnion credit report
- $50,000 of identity theft insurance
Premium (paid) options are available from Credit Sesame for users who want to track all three credit scores or want increased identity theft insurance.
Credit Sesame offers a variety of free tools that will help you understand and make plans to improve your credit score.
Learn more: Try Credit Sesame now—it’s totally free
For most people, Credit Sesame will be an ideal way to track your credit score. For the credit-obsessed, you may want to get proactive reports if anything on your credit report changes. Check out our credit tracking app comparison page if you want a full comparison of the various ways to check and track your credit score—both free and paid.
Getting your free credit reports
Both Credit Karma and Credit Sesame provide you with one of your three credit bureaus (TransUnion). While this is adequate for reviewing your report and knowing what’s on it, you want to check your credit reports from all THREE credit bureaus—Experian (with enrollment in Experian CreditWorksSM, Equifax, and TransUnion—at least once a year.
Credit Sesame will offer additional reports (for a fee). But you can download a free copy of each of your three credit reports at annualcreditreport.com. It’s mandated by law, but this is the only site where you can do this. This gets you your credit report—the detailed lists of your credit accounts, debt balances, and payment history — but will NOT show you your credit score, the number lenders use to evaluate your creditworthiness and compare you to other borrowers.
- Checking your own credit will not cause your credit score to go down.
- Your credit report and credit score are related, but different. Hit up annualcreditreport.com for all three reports once a year, and Credit Sesame for a free credit score and TransUnion report.
- These sites will ask for personal information like your social security number (SSN) — they have to in order to verify your identity and pull your credit information.
- Do beware of sites that require a credit card number to check your report or score — they will probably charge your card monthly unless you cancel.