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We often talk about how important it is to stay on top of your credit reports and scores. We encourage consumers to review their free credit scores, whether that’s through Credit.com’s Free Credit Report Card or another service.

But the truth is, once you have that information, figuring out what to do with it can be tricky. When it comes to taking action, what’s really important — and what’s not?

The Number: Don’t Obsess

Yes, it’s true that the three-digit number that represents your credit score can be significant. If you are trying to get a loan to buy or refinance a home, for example, a difference of a few points in one of your scores could cost you a lot of money in the long run if it means you have to pay a higher rate.

But at the same time, obsessing about your credit scores can be not only frustrating but fruitless. There are many reasons for that:

  • Your scores can change as often as information on your credit reports change.
  • Every lender has different standards, so the same score may earn you the best deal with one lender but not with another.
  • And, perhaps most importantly, you have many scores, not just one, so trying to figure out which scores matter most can be an exercise in futility.

In fact, when we recently included a free credit score with our free Credit Report Card — one of our most popular tools — we wanted to make sure that consumers understand that they don’t have a single score. That’s why we provide an Experian score, but also show consumers their VantageScore along with it. After all, there are dozens of scores available at any given time, and if you focus on just a single number, you may miss the bigger picture.  If you want more insight into the different kinds of scores out there, read about what’s really in a credit score.

What Goes Into The Number: A Bigger Deal

If focusing on the number isn’t the most important thing, then what is? Understanding the elements that make up your scores can be much more important. Our Credit Report Card, for example, assigns a grade to each of the main factors that go into a score:

• Payment History
• Debt Usage
• Credit Age
• Account Mix
• Inquiries

Within those, we recommend you put your efforts toward the things you can control. If you get a “C” or “D” for a particular factor, you’ll get suggestions for things you may do to address that grade. Some of these may be things you can address immediately while some may not be under your direct control.

If you earn a “D” because your credit report reflects a large number of recent inquiries, for example, then you can stop applying for credit for a time (action you can take) but you also will have to just sit tight while the current inquiries get older. After a year or two they won’t have the same impact on your scores.

What Your Credit Score Does For You: The Biggest Deal

The reason you want great credit scores is that they can help you save money and achieve your financial goals. If, for example, you have high-rate credit card debt, a decent credit score may help you qualify for a personal loan that you can use to consolidate that debt. If you walk away with a fixed-rate personal loan at a lower interest rate that you pay off in three years, for example, you can save money and get out of debt faster.

It’s important to put your scores in context. Even mortgage lenders look at other factors, like debt-to-income ratios and employment history. As any loan officer can tell you, even a perfect score can’t get you a loan if the appraisal comes in too low, or if income or assets aren’t well documented.

Finally, When searching online for those free credit reports and scores, first, be aware that we are all entitled to one free credit report — though not credit scores — each year from each of the three national credit reporting agencies. Second, Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card provides access to two of your credit scores, and, because credit reports can be difficult to understand, it breaks down the information in your credit report in an easy-to-understand way, using letter grades.

More on Credit Reports and Credit Scores:

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  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Mortgage lenders currently use FICO classic scores for the most part, since that’s what Freddie and Fannie accept. FICO has a new program that makes those scores available to consumers. But outside of mortgages a wide variety of scores are used. We wrote about that in this article: FICO vs. FAKO: What’s Your Real Credit Score?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    There could be a number of reasons for this discrepancy. One is that the model that you are seen in your credit monitoring service runs on a different scale than the score being used by the auto lender. We talked about that in this article:

    What Is a Good Credit Score?

    The other factor is that the credit scoring models used by auto lenders are often tailored to the auto lending industry, and as such they weight information differently.

  • GG

    I have no mortgage, no loans, dont owe any money , jus the montly utilities and insurances, which i understadnt can look at one’s credit score without permission. However, my credit card (MC) of 25 + yrs, wrote and said they have dropped my availability of credit from 14,000 to 500 dollars, our emergency travel card. They cannot tell me why. The free credit reports says to send in Driver’s License, paystubs, W-2’s, and even a copy of the house deed, plus $7 each for a complete report. Do I need to mail all of this sensitive information in to get a free credit report? Blogs say the online report is inaccurate noncrediable.

  • Lesley

    I just did it recently for the 1st time thinking I would get my credit report & score for free. Well, I got the reports but to get my score, I’d have to pay Transunion for constant monitoring (which wasn’t what I wanted) and either Experian or Equifax for a 7 or 14 day ‘trial period’. With my luck, I’d forget and get billed every month and have to wonder if I’d ever see an actual score. Transunion and either Experian or Equifax did send me the report within a couple of days. I disputed one item for a charge card at a store I had never been to but it showed I never charged anything so it was removed from both companies report.
    Either Experian or Equifax is terrible to deal with – I’d need to pull the paper work.
    When I worked, I had credit cards and when I retired, boy, did I have debt!! I managed to pay everything off so none of that is showing.
    I do have a debit/credit card attached to my bank account that doesn’t show up so basically, I have no debt in their eyes.
    My car ins. keeps going up dramatically which is why I went digging into this. I have a perfect driving record, no tix, accidents, claims in 40 yrs. of driving & I noticed one ins. co. I had called had checked my credit. Note too, my car was bought new, is 6 1/2 yrs. old and I haven’t hit 22,000 miles yet !!
    So – where’s the ‘free’ credit score ? I’ve got the reports but don’t have a ‘score’ ? I’m retired now, my income is fixed and I need to get this insurance down to an affordable level. What I’m getting for quotes isn’t cutting it and ins. is mandatory in my state.
    I don’t believe there’s such an animal as a ‘free’ credit score.

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      All three credit reporting agencies are required by law to make your credit reports available to you annually. Your credit scores come from information in those reports; that’s why it is so important to make sure the information in the reports is accurate. Your credit score changes often, and the credit-reporting bureaus calculate it differently. More important than focusing on the particular number is checking to see whether it’s rising, dropping, or staying about the same. You can get an idea of your score with Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card..

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    It’s unlikely that the inquiries dropped your score significantly. Inquiries are now grouped so that comparison-shopping for loans is not likely to have an outsized influence on your credit scores. You may find information in this post helpful:
    An auto loan inquiry dropped my score

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Trevor – there are a couple of options to consider. If you have a parent or family member that has great credit, they may be able to add you as an authorized user to one of their credit cards to help you establish credit so that you can eventually qualify to apply for your own card. For this to be effective and help you build a positive credit history, the account would need to be an older, well established card with a very low balance in relation to the credit limit, and no record of late payments.

    If that’s not an option, and you’re looking to establish credit entirely on your own, another option is to start with a secured card. You can read more about building credit from scratch in the following resource:

    How to Build Credit: Establishing Credit From Scratch

  • glenn

    car rentals ask for a credit card at pickup, and then let you pay off with a debit card

  • garbageboy

    I am aware that one can get a credit score for free but I am paranoid that the agencies are using my info so that they can give me grief over anything that might be a skeleton in my closet. Any thoughts out there?

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      The credit reporting agencies are a repository that collect the data reported by your lenders or other companies that you have credit relationships with. Legally, they can’t harass you or give you grief about the data in your credit report. With that said, ordering your credit score can be a little intimidating, but if something is being reported that shouldn’t be there, it’s important that you know about it so that you know what to expect if/when you go to apply for a loan, for example.

      If you apply for a loan, the lender or credit grantor will see it, and it helps you stay one step ahead of your credit and keeps you informed. If there are skeletons, you’ll at least know they exist and you’ll be able to address them. In some cases, those negative items you might be dreading, may not even exist — or they could be errors, in which case you could dispute them to have them removed. Not knowing is likely what’s causing your apprehension.

      If ordering your credit score makes you uncomfortable, you may want to consider just ordering your credit reports to start. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you’re entitled to a copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies once every 12-months. To make sure you’re using the federally mandated website, make sure you order them through http://www.annualcreditreport.com. You may find that it’s not half as bad as you’re expecting and that the skeletons may not even exist. 🙂

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Hi Jack — if the credit cards are currently delinquent or have been sent to collections, it’s going to be difficult to qualify for a refinance. Most mortgage lenders would require you to address any outstanding collections or unpaid accounts. And then, if the accounts recently went delinquent, they’re probably having an large impact on your credit and credit scores (which can also impact your ability to qualify for a mortgage refinance).

    Having said this, if you’ve never missed a payment on your mortgage, your mortgage lender may be able to help by offering a modified payment while you search for employment. And depending on when you purchased your home, and whether or not you’re underwater on your mortgage, you may also be eligible for a mortgage modification loan. You can read more about this here:

    Underwater On Your Home? Option 3: Get a Loan Modification

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Henador – I am not sure what you mean by “this website.” If you mean AnnualCreditReport.com then you are correct – you cannot get a truly free credit score there. If you mean Credit.com, however, then you can get your credit score for free once a month. No payment information is requested when you get your free Credit Report Card so there is nothing to cancel. Hope you get a chance to check it out!

  • Gerri Detweiler

    First, congrats on paying off all that debt! That’s terrific. And your plan for starting to rebuild your credit is a sound one.

    I’d suggest two things for you. First, if you sign up for Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card (which is truly free – not a trial offer) you’ll get your credit score along with offers you are more likely to qualify for. I’d suggest you try that to see if you are presented with an unsecured card that interests you.

    If not, we recently published our latest review of the Best Credit Cards in America secured cards, and that should help you narrow down your choices for a secured card. http://blog.credit.com/2013/07/the-best-secured-credit-cards-in-america/

    I should add that as long as you keep your utilization ratio low and pay your bills on time, any credit card is equal to another in terms of helping you build or rebuild credit. That’s provided it reports to all three credit reporting agencies, of course.

    Hope this helps! Do let us know how it goes for you.

  • Ted

    Hi Gerri i have some credit stuff still on my credit scores that goes as far back as 12 to 13 years, can they still hold on to files that long. I am trying to build my credit up, but these past stuff that i had still are hanging ther and i don’t know what to do. The credit agency want talk to me about them.They tell me they have a right to hold these bad debts that far back and some of the stuff don’t even belong to me, but they refuse to take it off. Any suggestions.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Hi Edith — The Credit Report Card is free and does not require a credit card to access your free credit score. If you choose to purchase or order a credit report or credit monitoring service, those services will require a credit card. However, to clarify — the Credit Report Card is free, and we do not require a credit card to sign up and access your free score. Hope this helps.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Winski, apologies for the error (but thank you for forwarding and pointing it out!) I’ve forwarded the error to our technical team and they should be contacting you directly with an update. If for some reason you don’t get a response, double check your spam filter for an email from @credit.com.

    • Winski

      Thanks !!!

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Winski — Can you share a little more info on the problem you’re having? From here, it appears the site is working and others are able to access their free reports (you will need to enter identifying information to authenticate your identity with the credit reporting agencies) but the free service is working. If you’re getting an error, please forward the exact error you’re getting and we’ll forward to our technical team to check into.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Heavyw8t -With scores in the low 600s, you’re probably looking at a secured card, at least until your scores improve enough to qualify for a card with better rates and terms. As far as which card is best, it really depends on the individual and how you plan to use the card. Doing your research is key and paying attention to consumer reviews is definitely a wise decision. Keep in mind, however, when it comes to rebuilding your credit, the card itself isn’t as important as how you manage the card. The drawback to credit cards for poor credit is that they carry very high interest rates, but because your options are limited (until your scores improve) … they at least provide a stepping stone to better options. One way around the high interest is to charge only what you can comfortably afford to pay in full at the end of the month. As long as you pay the bill (in full) before the grace period, you avoid paying interest at all.
    Credit cards for poor credit carry high interest rates but the key is to use the card as a tool to show the credit scoring models that you can manage credit responsibly, have learned from your past mistakes and are now a good credit risk. Once your score improves to where you’re eligible for better interest rates, rewards and terms — you’ll want to switch to a card that’s much better suited for your individual needs.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    David – Legislation has been proposed to allow consumers access to their free credit score but until it’s passed or approved, credit scores are not a part of the federally mandated annual free “credit reports.” You can, however, get your free credit score from Credit.com through Credit.com’s Free Credit Report Card. This free score also includes free monthly updates that give you the ability to track your score over time. That’s the free score we’re referencing in the article title “Can You Really Get Your Credit Score for Free.”

  • Gerri Detweiler

    That’s a very high score! Good job.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Exactly Rocky.

    Plus, that’s how the credit reporting agencies make money – by selling credit reports and credit scores to lenders, insurers and others with a permissible purpose to obtain the reports. Also keep in mind, Carole, that when a consumer obtains his or her own score report or score (including through services like Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card), it is a “soft inquiry,” which doesn’t affect your score. But when a lender pulls it, that’s a hard inquiry which can affect the score.

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  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Flora – this is a great strategy, and one option that many consumer advocates recommend because it keeps you focused on checking your reports regularly — which is all too important when you consider just how much our credit can affect our financial lives. Thanks again for sharing!

  • Denise C

    What’s frustrating is when the Credit Reporting Bureaus have wrong information, it practically takes an act of congress to get it changed. I was denied credit several times, not really knowing why, until it was pointed out to me (by a car dealer) that the reason I was denied a car loan was because I lied on my application about being single, when my credit report came back that I was married. They listed my father as my spouse. My dad once co-signed for me, and that was the only reason I could think of, why the one credit bureau had him listed as my spouse. I had to provide my birth certificate (which I had to pay for from Vital Statistics, because it had been lost) and then send it by certified mail just to have them correct it. I feel that when I called to inform them of the error, “they” should have investigated it, instead of it costing me. So, needless to say, I have very little respect for the Credit Reporting Bureaus, who unfortunately, have a grasp on us that we cannot do anything about, unless we can afford to live by cash only. Which I can’t.

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Denise – Could the error have been due to the the co-signed account rather than marital status? The reason we ask is because credit reports don’t include marital status — neither do they include information on your race, gender, ethnicity, religion, medical or criminal history, or political affiliation. When you’re denied for credit, the lender is legally obligated to send you an adverse action notice that tells you why you were denied and also provide information on how to obtain a copy of the credit report that was used to make the decision. It’s true, trying to get information corrected can be a hassle, and the system is slow and archaic — but you shouldn’t have had to verify that you were single to the credit bureaus directly — could it have possibly been the actual lender you had to deal with? While credit scores and credit reports don’t factor in income (or joint incomes from a spouse), lenders will typically look at this information as part of the loan approval process.

      In the end, the Fair Credit Reporting Act gives us all the right to fair and accurate credit reports — which also includes the right to dispute negative information. In the event you have to go through this process again (hopefully you won’t), here are a few resources that can help you through the process with as little hassle as possible:

      How to Order Your Free Annual Credit Report & Steps to Correcting Credit Report Errors:

      How to Order Your Free Annual Credit Report
      A Step-by-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes
      8 Rules of an Effective Credit Report Dispute Letter

  • Denise C

    Try reserving a plane ticket or renting a car, with cash. No credit/credit card means no reserving services one may need.

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  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Stephen – To get your three free credit reports you have to use the federally mandated website at http://www.annualcreditreport.com. This site does not ask for a credit card unless you add a credit score to the order. For detailed, step-by-step instructions, Credit.com created the following resource:
    How to Order Your Free Annual Credit Report

    Hopefully this helps.

  • FRE000


    It would also be a good idea to contact one’s federal senators and representatives. We need a law to make the credit reporting agencies more responsive to consumer needs.

  • FRE000


    You’re right, but why are you afraid to use the word “racket”?

  • FRE000


    Thank you; you are right.

    It would cost the three credit agencies NOTHING to provide the credit score with the reports. It is OUR score, and it should be provided. It will take legislation to force them to provide it.

    It’s a racket.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      There have been legislative proposals to do just that. In the meantime, you can get your credit score from Credit.com once a month and it’s truly free, using our Credit Report Card.

  • FRE000

    The credit system is a racket set up by the financial industry. I say that even though I have a high credit score from all three agencies.

    We are FORCED to use credit, even if we neither need to nor want to. If we do not use credit, we will have no credit score and be forced to pay too much for home and car insurance.

    For 10 years, I lived outside of the U.S. My credit history disappeared, so I had to pay too much for insurance when I returned.

    Also, there is a serious risk of identity theft. Forty years ago, some of us knew that using social security numbers as a universal identifier would lead to serious problems, but our concerns were ridiculed. Now, it has happened. Because the credit industry has powerful lobbies, we can do nothing about it.

    The credit industry has created a dangerous system that puts all of us at risk for ID theft and now they expect US to pay for ID theft protection!

    Also, the three credit reporting agencies will not provide the exact formula they use for calculating our credit scores. That information should be available to the public. Moreover, they will not provide scores to us unless we pay them, even though providing the three-digit number with a credit report would cost them nothing. It’s a racket!

    • thereviewhubdotcom

      I agree with everything that you state in this post!!! Point taken!!! I hope that we as consumers are able to make our voices heard!!! Our credit-based system is totally out of control!!!

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  • Cheryl Ziemann

    You forgot to add that if you do not establish credit with loans or credit cards it can jeopardize employment or the cost for car insurance. Businesses want to see how you manage your money.

    • FRE000


      You’re right; it’s a racket. I say that even though I have a high credit score.

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  • Leonardo Scarpati

    Americans your banks are asking ,you to get more credits , that is the way they are controlling you , most Americans are heavily in debt to the banks, ( credit cards, house ,car, student loans ,you named }, every loan come with a high interes ,What a shame , they are ripping you off ,get out of debt .

    • FRE000


      You are right. I deal with the problem by paying off credit card bills in full when they come in; that way, I have no interest to pay.

      It may make sense to borrow money for one’s first car if one cannot get along without a car. But by the time the car needs to be replaced, people should have saved enough to pay cash for the next car. If they cannot pay cash, they should get the least expensive car that is reliable.

      Most people need to borrow to buy a house, but they should make sure that they can easily afford the payments.

      Student loans are a different matter; perhaps some people cannot avoid them. Fortunately, I never had a student loan.

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  • Carole

    Is it true that credit information from the big three credit agencies is accessible FREE to everyone (credit unions, banks, employers, apartment owners, car dealers, etc.), except the owners of the credit card, who has to pay a small fee or give them a credit card number? So you could drop into your bank and ask the loan officer what your credit score is?

  • ray boy

    annualcreditreport.com is free once a year

    • Thinker

      Yes…… Free for each of the THREE Credit Bureaus.
      Experian………….. and……..

      Now we all learned something new

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  • Consumer

    What one gets from a “free” credit report is not the same as what a business gets, you get an entirely different version and not one that has real meaning when a company figures if you are credit worthy or not.

    Call it a SHAME because that is what it is.

    • Credit.com

      The credit report data itself is the same, regardless of whether it’s a lender, consumer, employer, insurance company, etc. The score you receive, however, is usually different. In most cases, credit scores sold to consumers are consumer scores and are not used by lenders. The exception are FICO scores, which are sold through Equifax, TransUnion and FICO’s website. Then there are the free educational scores that are available to consumers. These are not used by lenders but they are helpful in giving consumers a general idea of their credit standing without having to pay for a score (that a lender may not use). There is some good news here, however. Credit.com’s Credit Report Card now uses the latest version of the VantageScore, which IS used by lenders. As long as the lender is using the VantageScore model (which is used by 7 out of 10 lenders), it means you get the same score a lender gets—for free.

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  • http://Frontier Earl Lofton

    I Did

  • http://Frontier Earl Lofton


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  • William Dietrich

    Laura, I agree.

  • http://doesitreallymatter clarence

    Just pay your bills on time and dont waist your precious time on credit companies

  • Maria

    I have 780 credit score.
    98% credit availability
    and only 2% on debt; that because I am playing my house and my car.

    • Cheryl Ziemann

      From which source? Trans union scores are from 250 to 850. Vanguard is from 550 to 950.

  • Stephanie E. McDonald

    There is a Law Firm out that says they can eliminate your debt for a $6,000 fee. Paul A Herman. They claim that there are violations that credit card companies have violated consumers rights. Is this law firm a SCAM!!! They are so convincing but I would like to know if you have heard of this company. They are located in Boca Raton,Fl 33498-6747.

    • Credit.com

      Stephanie – It appears to be a legitimate law firm but based on their service listing they’re not offering a debt elimination service, but legal council for lawsuits related to violations under consumer protection laws (like the FDCPA, FCRA, etc.). It’s not necessarily a scam but we’d be very apprehensive about using any service that claims they can eliminate your debt for “$6,000” before even speaking with you or knowing your situation, especially if it’s under the auspice of defending you for violations under consumer protection laws. If credit card issuers have violated your rights (whether it’s under the FCRA, the FDCPA, or any other law), and it’s a legitimate, solid/good case — most consumer law attorneys would work with you on contingency or with no cost to you because the other party would have to pay legal fees if they are breaking the law.

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  • willy D

    i just spent a good hour PLUS reading comments and being one that is not shy i feel strongly that gerri and c-com are on the right track… keep it up c.c. and i will be l@@king into using your free service… take care willy ” D “

    • Credit.com

      Willy D — We agree, Gerri is worth her weight in gold. Thank you for the kind words! 🙂

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  • Lynda

    Is it possible to purchase your FICO score on line? That is really the only one that counts, as far as I am concerned.

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  • mike

    Its all set up in favor of big business and against the consumer.

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  • ladywisdom

    The best thing to do is to pay everything with CASH. Paid all credit cards off and everything else but the house. If I dont have the cash to get something I dont get it. The borrower is slave to the lender.

    • Credit.com

      Credit card debt can be a nightmare so kudos for paying of the credit cards. Because you already have a home, going cash only isn’t a bad thing but for most consumers, opting to go cash only in credit based system does have some downsides. The biggest downside to the “cash only” principal is that most consumers don’t have enough cash up front to cover large life purchases like a home or car, for example. And if they choose to go the cash only route, and decide later on that they want to purchase a house, their options are extremely limited because they won’t be able to qualify. Cash only means no credit history (it eventually falls off your credit report so there’s no history if you need it), and no credit history means no credit. In the long-run, it’s not that having credit is necessarily “bad.” It’s how we manage that credit that can either cripple us or help us leverage it so that it benefits us from a financial perspective.

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  • http://yahoo.com Mike

    I have been able to get my credit score from the entity I was doing business with i.e.:buying a house,or a vehicle etc..those scores appear to be the TRUE SCORE! OF COURSE I NEVER REVEALED THE INFORMATION OF MY SOURCE ! Therefore I have been able to know my situation!
    And I don’t buy houses or vehicles every year and do pay my bills on time and most often more than is required! Including my credit card(s),house and vehicle!

  • Jim

    I used credit.com recently. First, it gives you a number for one agency only. I believe it was experion. It makes some recommendations as far as what you can do to raise your score. Mine was 770. No information on specific accounts you may have. What good is one score when most lenders look at the “average combined” score when doing your evaluation? If you want the other two agency’s then it will cost you a considerable amount of money to get those numbers….Kind of like “gotcha” if you ask me.

    In short, there is no such thing as a “free” total credit score from each of the three agency’s…..period!

    • Credit.com

      Jim – It’s true, the Credit Report Card is a free service for consumers that provides a “credit score” based on the information in your Experian credit report. The reason you don’t see specific information on accounts is because we only provide the free score, not a free credit report — there’s a difference between the two.

      To your point, there is no such thing as a free “TOTAL” credit score from each of the three credit reporting agencies because there is no “total combined” score — it does not exist. Each credit reporting agency is an individual entity, they’re actually competitors and they don’t share information. Nor do they provide free credit scores. By law, they are required to provide one free credit report to you once every 12 months but you’d need to go to http://www.annualcreditreport.com to claim the annual freebie. If you’ve already claimed your one free annual report and want access to your credit report again, you have to purchase it. As stated, the law only mandates that they provide one copy every 12 months as stipulated in the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

      To clarify any confusion you may have about lenders and their use of credit scores, most lenders do NOT look at an “average combined” score as you’ve stated. That’s a misconception and is completely inaccurate. The only time a lender will pull all three credit reports and credit scores is when you go to apply for a mortgage loan, and even then, they do not do an average “combined” score — they take the middle score. Most other lenders will only pull your credit report and score from one bureau. As to which credit report and which credit score they use, it depends on the lender. For a more in-depth explanation at why the score your lender pulls might be different that a credit score you’ve ordered, this article will help: 3 Reasons Why Your Free Credit Score Looks Wrong

      If you haven’t already done so, here’s a helpful guide that explains exactly how to go about obtaining your free annual reports under the guidelines in the Fair Credit Reporting Act: How to Order Your Free Annual Credit Reports

      It’s also important to point out that when you claim your free reports, your credit score is NOT a part of the report. The bureaus will ask you if you want to purchase your score along with your free report. This is a choice that is left up to the individual consumer but with services like the Credit Report Card, you can obtain your credit score for free — to be clear, it’s the score that’s free in this case. We do not provide or advertise “free credit reports,” just the score.

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  • tom

    the problem with credit.com is their information is not always correct and they do not give an avenue to correct their information. I FILED MULTIPLE complaints against the tree big credit reporting agencies and have found that no one oversees them to insure the information they use is correct……..

    They all want your money for reports and scores but make little effort to correct the information and or your score.I strongly advise you to file a complaint with the Fereral Trade Commision, Better Business Bureau and your state attorney generals office. The amount of money they cost consumers with their mis-information is costing us millionsof dollars because of their scores that are not correct …

    • Credit.com

      Hi Tom – There may be a bit of confusion here but unfortunately, Credit.com has no control over the information reported in your credit reports, nor do we have access to your credit report data. This information has to be corrected directly at the credit reporting agency in which the credit report was generated (if based on the credit report card, it would be your Experian credit report) and the credit reporting agency would need to update and make the change. It’s also important to point out that every consumer with a credit report in the United States is covered by the Fair Credit Reporting Act and is entitled to have the information on their credit reports to be accurate and free from errors. As part of this law, the credit reporting agencies are required to address each and every dispute and has 30 days to investigate the error and either correct it or remove it from your credit report. To dispute information in your credit report and have the information corrected, we provide several resources to help guide consumers through the process. Here are a few that should help:

      A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes – http://blog.credit.com/2013/02/a-step-by-step-guide-to-disputing-credit-report-mistakes/
      Credit Report Mistakes? Here’s How to Fix Them http://blog.credit.com/2011/05/credit-report-mistakes-heres-how-to-fix-them/
      How to Order Your Free Annual Credit Reports — http://www.credit.com/credit-reports/article/2010/08/00017/how-to-order-your-free-annual-credit-report

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  • dee bell

    why do you write titles that have nothing to do with the article? and you cannot get a free report from any of these sites. they request every bit of your personal info (lord knows what they use it for) and direct you to only one place where you have to sign up for monitoring for a fee. the law says you are entitled to a free report, but I guess it does not compel the three bureaus to give you one. they do this non compliance with the govt’s blessing.

    • Credit.com

      Hi Dee – The law does give you the right to a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies, it’s mandated under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and was part of an amendment in 2003 – The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act. The law states that each and every one of us are entitled to one free copy of our credit reports every 12 months. In order to claim the annual freebie, you have to use the federally mandated site at http://www.AnnualCreditReport.com. Outside of that one free credit report, unfortunately, you’d have to purchase your report. The title of this article is relevant to the entire piece so hopefully this helps to understand the process. As far as a free credit score, you can always get that for free from Credit.com with free monthly updates in the Credit Report Card – https://www.credit.com/free-credit-score/. This doesn’t include a copy of your credit report, however. As previously stated, the law only provides one freebie a year.

  • gilbert villa

    I was shopping to refinance April 11 and I was shocked to learn from the lender that the credit bureaus have me as “deceased”. Don’t these lenders check if there is activity in my name, then I must be alive? Doesn’t one have to be breathing to pay the bills, shop, charge, loan, etc in person? How can they keep maintaining my score if I were deceased?
    Now I will be at their mercy by just trying to prove that it is their mistake. I know these credit bureaus don’t care for the consumer but I will fight them to my last breathe to have myself resurrected!

    • Credit.com

      Hi Gilbert – This is a frustrating situation but filing a dispute with the credit reporting agencies should help clear up the confusion. To clarify, whenever there is a “deceased” indicator reported in a credit report — it raises a red flag with credit scoring models and a score will not be generated. It’s one of the minimum requirements for a FICO score. If there’s a deceased indicator, a lender won’t be able to obtain a credit score on you. It is a hassle, we agree, but in cases like these it’s a protection to keep scam artists and identity thieves from trying to take over the identity of a deceased person.

      Here’s a handy guide that can help you through the process:
      A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes – http://blog.credit.com/2013/02/a-step-by-step-guide-to-disputing-credit-report-mistakes/

  • http://IE ronnie l morrow

    I belong to the General Mills Federal Credit Union.I get a free report that they use for my credit.We are redoing our home and using a home improvement card that has always been paid in full.The 5% discount pleased my wife so she maxed out the card.She paid the account off instore and charged more stuff that day.My score dropped 7 points over credit utilization, 4% LOL.House is paid,for cc’s and autos are all we use credit for.

  • Chris Dudley

    Can you put your side of the story into the credit agency’s ? I have a dispute with Vector Security, as I have a cancellation letter and jumped through all hoops to cancel my service with them when I moved away from Florida Sept. 12 last year. Nobody used the service since then, they insist to bill me the whole time. I called, sent registred mail all to no avail. I know they will put in the report in and since I know all was done, have proof, I will not pay them. So can this be explained and would it have to go to all 3 ??? Some things in life are just costly and frustrating !

    • Credit.com

      Chris – In cases like this, the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) gives you the right to add a consumer statement to your credit reports. Consumer statements are limited to 100 words so you’ll need to keep it succinct and specific. It’s important to note that even if you add a consumer statement to your reports, it won’t change the impact or damage caused to your credit or credit scores.

      Because you have documented proof and a cancellation letter for confirmation, if the data furnisher (Vector Security in your case) refuses to correct the change during the dispute investigation, you may need to resort to legal action and consult a consumer law attorney. To find a consumer law attorney familiar with FCRA lawsuits in your area, visit the National Association of Consumer Advocates at http://www.NACA.net

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  • ger

    credit reports are free from many sites, but it is just a report, not a score. still the reports do provide you with a history of much credit based transactions, but not a score.
    if you want a free score do this; go to a car dealership and “buy a car”. this will take about a half hour of time. pick any new car. say you’ll buy it and will finance the whole price. they will have to check your credit score to give you a rate. when they come back and tell you the financing arrangement they will give you a loan percentage based on your “credit score”. simply get them to reveal what that score was that gave you the loan rate they quote. from that point you just walk away saying you’ll think about it.

    same thing at a bank. apply for a new car loan, or equity loan, or anything else that requires $$$$$ to finance. they check your credit scores and give you a rate. ask what they found then dont sign any contracts.

    may sound like a hassle but it takes the same amount of timme as trying to do all this on the internet and come up fruitless. plus the score you get from those agencies is reliable b/c they are the ones taking the risk so they are trying to protect their interests.

    one last point. any company that is financing your purchase takes a look at your credit score you are entitled to a free report and a free score of that report. federal law. period. gerald the finance guy

    • Dee

      Why would anyone drop their credit score to find out a number? Anytime you apply for credit (car, credit card, mortgage, etc…) that’s a hard hit on your report, meaning you loose points.

      On the other hand if you’re really looking to make a purchase, make sure you do it within the month of applying. Meaning hit all car dealers in the month then decide, it doesn’t count as a hit each time if done in the same period of time. Dee the careful girl.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I would beg to differ on this. If the car dealership pulls your credit report it will be a “hard” inquiry which affects your scores. If you get your credit score from a service like Credit.com (and we do offer a truly free credit score, not a free credit report) then it will be a “soft” inquiry which does not affect your scores. And I hope you find it a lot faster than going into a dealership! 🙂

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  • http://Credit.com Jose flores

    How is your credit score is really tallied? Early in 2009 I applied for a loan and my credit score was 798, the comments right below the score listed the different reasons why a score can be low:
    —too many inquires
    —debt-to-income ratio….
    A late 2012 inquire with a score of 648 listed exactly the same comments.
    How can you have an almost 800 vs 650 and the comments be the same.
    How often are these comments updated?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Jose –

      My guess is that the same factors apply but there were two different scoring models used. The first time it was the lender’s scoring model and the second time…? Not sure from your comment but unless you applied with the same lender it was probably different (and even with the same lender it can change). I explain that issue in this story: 3 Reasons Why Your Free Credit Score Looks Wrong Slightly different topic but the same principals apply.

      And this article should help explain those “reason codes”: How to Decode Your Credit Score

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  • http://None Ruth Peterson

    My son had to prove his identity and then his report was crossed with his son, who has the same name.

    My credit score went down because my other son’s home was foreclosed, and on top of all that, my score is different for all three companies….no two are the same.

  • CLS

    I recently went on annualcreditreport.com to get all three reports. The report is free but does not come with a score. You have to pay an additional $7.95 for each of the three companies to receive a score. In other words, it’s a bunch of bull when they say it is free. People want to know their score so the report is useless without it.

  • Barbara

    Iagreewithpat,somepeoplewhoaskforyourssn,donotneeditatall.somedo,somedo not.sothinkbeforeyougiveitout.barbaracampbell

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  • Carol

    I always do my request for a credit report from annualcredit.com by phone. I always get my copy of the report in less than a week. It takes about 3 minutes to answer the questions on the phone. I get one report in January, one in May and one in September. It’s better to stagger them. I can’t explain why your wife didn’t get her reports. The only thing I can say is that maybe by doing in paper form they are just bogged down with paperwork and things may just take a very long time. I suggest you try by phone. Also, if you request a report and/or stagger them, make sure you order after the date of your previous report or you will get a letter saying you already requested the report within the year.

    • Paul

      Online took me about 5 minutes to get the credit reports.

  • Don

    Never had a problem getting a free credit report but to get the score free. I have had no luck. The reporting companies want you to buy your score. They have all kind of deals. I wanted to get a major loan so I bought into their program and got my score from all three of the reporting companies. It is good to know what your score is before you start to get a loan. I ended up with a good loan at a good rate and because of my scores being in the 800 area the bank was easy to deal with. But I did have to spend a little money to get the scores.

  • rosa

    Nothing irritates me more than when a question is asked, that is simple and straight forward and the respondent does everything but answer the question…. It’s even worse when you are the one who posed the question and then doesn’t answer it…..

  • HLG

    New legislation may be coming on free credit scores. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323639604578368820334744676.html

  • http://Aboutaritcal pat

    I always believe That There is never anything for Free! Just stop and think? Why would anyone from the Goodness of their Heart want to give you any information FREE? If it did not benefit them in some way! It’s not free for them to post this and take their time to answer back on all the commits posted here. So go figure!!!!

    • Paul

      Federal law requires the credit reporting agencies to provide FREE credit reports annually via annualcreditreport.com.

  • Jennnifer Swaner

    You can get a free credit report once a year from each of the three reporting credit bureaus-Credit SCORES on the other hand usually require you to enroll in a credit reporting program-free for the first seven days unless you cancel, and then you are charged monthly. Be aware!

  • Eileen

    A score is a product and the people who came up with the “score” want to rightly get paid for it when someone requests it. It is not free or a right – you have to buy it from the company that produces it. The financial institutions pay a fee every time they pull your credit report with the score. Don’t have a lot of debt and pay your bills on time – it IS that easy. Lenders do not manipulate the score – it is only a product they buy to try to decide if this person is going to pay them back on time. And while there might be a number of different score models, the most widely used one is the FICO score or any one used by the 3 main credit bureau companies. If you pay your bills on time and don’t have 10 credit cards with the balances maxed out the system will work, barring identity theft issues.

  • orestes

    From my painful experience, I found out that credit assessing companies are too happy to give you a bad report. That, of course, suits fine with the credit companies, especially insurance companies, the greatest of all thieves. My son and I have the same name, except for the middle initial. But we have DIFFERENT Social Security Numbers and employments. Therefore, it doesn’t take an investigating reporter to know the difference! Both of these elements are attached to any credit activity and can be easily available…if you are an honest broker, that is!

  • http://credit.com Ryan

    After I’ve paid off something that was in collections shouldn’t that disappear from my credit report? I have a bill from 3 years ago that I paid off but it still shows on my report. It shows as paid but I don’t think it should even show up anymore. Thanks

  • Jackie

    I’m confused about the inquiries and don’t want to try to product in this article until I understand. Much like Max a little ways up, I’d like to know about inquiries. When a bank ‘pre qualifies’ me for a credit card, does that count as an inquiry? If so does it have a negative impact? How about if a bank I’m already in business with does so, to check if for example my credit line can be increased? I noticed something earlier in the comments about how it is better if this is done in a short period of time. When I sign up for a site to see my scores and reports, and just view inquiries into my own account, does that have some effect as well? If so, I don’t understand how shopping around without signing up (on my part) and receiving offers (on the part of banks that want to have me as a credit customer) reflects badly on my debt and payment?

    Thank you to anyone who can answer this.

  • Leo

    Consider asking your bank / financial institution about providing monthly FICO updates. I belong to two credit unions. One of them provides me with a monthly FICO score, but the other does not offer this service. The number can change month to month, but stays in a narrow range of about 6 points.

  • Bob

    No, you CAN’T get your credit score for free… you get some lame number that means nothing. If it isn’t FICO, it isn’t real.

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  • Rick K

    The problem with consumer credit scores is that they are not the same scores that every lender in America uses. Just ask any lender, whether you are applying for a car loan or a home mortgage, if they accept your Triple Advantage Credit Score when applying for a loan.

    As soon as you show them your freshly printed score of 750 from Triple Advantage, Free credit score.com, etc. they will insist on running your credit on their system, where it will miraculously come back anywhere between 40 and 100 points lower than the one you just printed out from Experian, Trans Union and Equifax.

    Here is what Experian told me after I took my 750 credit score to my Toyota dealer to buy a car, and their system came back with a score of 625:

    “A consumer credit score is only meant to be used as a basic estimate. Lenders utilize our customizable credit scoring systems that are sort of like a road map where some destinations are printed on the map, and others are left blank so that the lender can input their own criteria. This customizable criteria can alter a person’s score by as much as 100 points, or more, depending on the lender. ….There are over 2000 different scoring systems throughout the USA, of which there is no Federally regulated standard scoring system”.

    And there lies the problem. Consumers do not have access to the same scoring systems lenders use, because they are all different, and there is no regulated standard, therefore, lenders are free to manipulate our scores in order to increase our interest rate, add points to loans, or flat out deny a loan based on overlays they add to our scores.

    Just try demanding a lender give you a loan based on your free credit score and see what happens.

    • Paul

      Did the toyota dealer show you the 625 in a complete print out? If not, they were lowballing you at the financing arm of the dealership. You should have gone to a bank or credit union first to see what they said, then armed with some info, you would know if the dealer was just trying to charge you a much higher interest rate on your car loan.

  • Kevin M

    The confusion from all the available credit scores out there is that you are essentially never getting the same scoring product being used by your lenders. When they publish a score requirement, it is a requirement for the specific scoring product as applied to one or more credit bureaus.

    Over 90% of credit decisions that use a score are based on a FICO score. You will not get your FICO for free unless you are turned down for the credit.

    The free score offered here is basically a tool that you can use to see how your credit is trending. You cannot take it to a lender and tell them that they have to give you a loan because your score is higher than the minimum threshold established by the lender. It CAN be and indicator of your general credit health. It can also be used to watch for a large drop in score that can be an indicator that you have been a victim of ID theft. Free self monitoring if you use it right.

    If you are doing the right things with your credit, you will not have to worry about your score outside of . On time payments, using less than 10% of your available credit on credit cards, rarely opening new credit (once you are established, new credit should only happen once in several years) and sticking with the same credit cards will put you in a position that your score will always be good enough.

    • Paul

      “Over 90% of credit decisions that use a score are based on a FICO score”. I challenge that statement. If you are talking about home mortgages, you might be somewhat correct, but auto loan dealers use equifax and experian generated scoring models.

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  • s c bushnell

    they lie! they won’t give you a free report. i filled out everything and they kept refusing my ss# which i have had since 1941 and used it all these years. just another scam i guess

    • Gerri Detweiler

      What kind of message are you getting when you try? They should give you a phone number to call or an address to write. Have you tried that? I’d suggest getting to the bottom of this.

    • D. Poston

      Sounds like someone may had been using your number and may had die. And your number was remove from the SS database.

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  • http://n/a Stacy Millen

    Gerri and Michael – Where can I get a credit report that meets all these following four requirements? 1. Soft pull 2. No monthly credit monitoring service 3. Report that is similar to a report that is obtained by mortgage lenders 4. Reasonable fee.
    I am sure a lot of consumers are looking for this kind of service.

    • Michael Schreiber

      AnnualCreditReport.com — it’s free and you can get your credit report from each of the bureaus. Soft pull. No services associated.

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  • Jack Smythe

    The title is deceptive. Yes you can get your credit score for free from these types of sites. But these companies also automatically enroll you in some kind of fee-based monthly credit monitoring service, usually a pricey one at that. And to unroll yourself after the cancellation period is very difficult. Some people end up cancelling their credit card in order to stop these unwanted monthly fees. READ THE FINE PRINT or better yet the three credit reporting bureaus have to by law, give you your credit reports once a year for free but without credit score. And freezing your credit is the cheapest best way to protect yourself. Credit monitoring services are unnecessary, expensive, and pointless.

    • Michael Schreiber

      Jack – the title is not deceptive and we do nothing of the sort. The Credit Report Card is absolutely free – it doesn’t require a credit card or any type of payment at all. There are credit monitoring services available on Credit.com, but we don’t automatically enroll anyone in anything. You’re right about the bureaus having to give you your credit reports for free every year. In fact we along with many others note that in these comments and we’ve written about that in dozens or articles on Credit.com. We appreciate the fact that you care enough about this issue to comment, but we work pretty hard at making sure people understand how credit and credit scores work. Gerri, in particular (the author of this post), helps people on this site every day. Your critique is knee jerk and baseless. That said, thanks again for reading, and hope to see you here again.
      Mike Schreiber
      Editor In Chief, Credit.com

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  • Ted

    Credit scores and credit reports are not the same thing. You can get your credit report (the one complied about you without your consent) fairly easily on- line. Since the credit reporting/scoring companies are required by Federal law to provide this at least annually at no charge, they just put it on the web for you to view whenever. The credit score they assign you (based on information they collect and store about you without your consent) is for sale. Period. Never free as in ” no cost or obligation. Not ever. Also, there are other things they report to commercial customers (derived from information they collect about you without your consent) that they won’t tell you. Not ever. All of which is mentioned in the article this site is linked to, humorously enough. Any of you asking these questions didn’t read the whole article, apparently. And yes, the “free credit score” (not report) is a lie. It’s always for sale, never free. Not ever….

    • Paul

      Hmmmm Ted, I have been getting my credit score for free via credit.com from experian for 4 months now. On other sites, when they ask for credit card info, do not provide the info. Its only free if you provide NO credit card info.

  • http://www.credit.com cynna

    It works — you can get a free credit score without having to enter any credit card information. I appreciate the free credit check. More information is reported than I expected. It was quick and painless. I am always a little skeptical but less so than most people so I tried it and viola — immediately got valuable information in seconds. No infomercials or gimmicks.

  • http://Credit.com Sharyl D. Connor

    On approximately 2/20/13 I guess my credit score (or Fico) was 778/900. On this date 3/16/13 score is now 758 with six days to go before the next update. Any explanation of the changes of my scores. Thank you so very much.

  • http://Credit.com Gwen

    Thank you so much for the useful information. I knew there was a place to get my credit score but was tired of following the ‘get your credit score “free”‘ threads that led to a purchase. Your article is clear and simply needs to be READ, not glanced over, to be understood.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Thanks Gwen! Appreciate the kind words and glad it helped.

  • Judy

    I tried to refinance and was told I did not qualify as I had outstanding delinquent chg card balances, when in fact I have been 1099 on them. I had not used the cards since 2005 and informed the lender of all the above. I know more then he does, sad when I told him about the 1099 and could produce copies. He did not know what to say or do as he submitted to an automatic underwriting program..Incompetent for sure.

  • mg

    Anyone can directly call Experian, Transunion, or Equafax and request their credit report free. I believe once a year.

    Be aware their are different levels of Credit Reports. There are reports that concern school loans, rentals applications, employment apps., home mortgages, commercial loans, credit card loans, security, and so on.

    Your credit score concerns your personal debt (mortgages, credit cards, school loans, auto loans, unpaid judgements, liens, or any line of credit secured.

  • http://www.bills.com Daniel Cohen @ Bills.com

    As a study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau pointed out, credit scores that consumers get access to differ from the credit scores that lenders use. “The study found that about one out of five consumers would likely receive a meaningfully different score than would a lender.” http://1.usa.gov/RfnoW0

    The Fair Access to Credit Scores Act of 2013 (http://bit.ly/13Y5LC6) would require consumer reporting agencies to “disclose a current credit score generated using the scoring algorithm, formula, model, program or mechanism that is most frequently used to generate scores sold to creditors.”

    Similar legislation was proposed before and did not pass. Govtack.us gives the bill only a 2% chance of passing.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Good point! Thanks for sharing that legislative update.

  • John Britto

    Is this FREE Credit report service available in Canada? If so, can you please provide me with details of how to obtain my FREE Credit report in Canada? Thanks in advance. John

  • Dano

    One other way.. Apply for a Credit Card.. One that will turn you down.. Then you can get your Credt report for free..

  • Max

    I have a question for Gerri or anyone else who knows about the credit.com Credit Report Card. I understand that this is a “soft” inquiry, is that right? If so, is there any number of soft inquiries that looks bad on your credit or can bring down your score? Does getting a soft inquiry every month potentially bring down or hurt the look of your credit in any way? What about multiple soft inquiries? Thanks.

  • charles fox

    Can anyone explain how it’s possible for lenders to be reported one score and the consumer a different score from the same scoring agency. I applied for a car loan and before applying checked my credit score. A few hours later I got a copy of a report from the lender showing my score 25 points lower than what I was shown by the same scoring agency. There was no change in my credit history during those few hours.
    In talking to the lender they say that happens all the time. My sense is that consumers are being highballed…..OR…..lenders are adjusting the scores down to justify a higher interest rate.
    Am I the only one suspecting credit scores are largely a scam by the financial industry to manipulate consumer credit markets?

    • Michael Schreiber

      There are dozens of different scoring models and scores, Charles. Unless you’re getting a mortgage or an adverse action notification (meaning you were rejected for credit or are being charged higher interest rates), you generally don’t see the actual score a lender is using. But lenders, credit reporting agencies, insurance companies, etc… all use different scores.

  • Bart

    Beware of sites that offer you a “VantageScore”. This is a fictional product that no lender uses. This model was created by the credit bureaus to avoid paying Fair, Isaac and Co (FICO) for the scores that lenders rely upon day in and day out. These “VantageScores” have no real world translation into the modern world of credit and are just another example of how the three repositories engage in deceptive practices every day.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Bart – It’s true that VantageScores aren’t as widely used as FICO scores but they are used by lenders, and of course VantageScore is working hard on trying to increase those numbers. We’ve written about some changes coming with version 3 of their score: 3 Big Changes Coming to Credit Scores

  • http://Yahoo George Bartenfeld

    If it says free better stay away from it,Nothing is free anymore

    • Paul

      So you would rather pay for a credit report than obtain one for free that is truly free and mandated by federal law to be free? That is your choice.

  • Nora

    Yes, you most certainly can get your credit report for “free.” annualcreditreport.com

    No tricks…by law a person can do it once a year and what I find helpful is not to get all three agencies at one time. Why get all three reports at same time, instead get one every 4 mos. over course of year.

  • Verla Ryder

    There are NO FREE SITES, PERIOD! Just gimmicks and entrapments.

    • Paul

      Absolutely false! There are several free sites. Read the letters above and you will find the correct info. Take a little time and save a lot!

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  • Kelly

    As a lay person I find the subject of credit scores, the credit reporting system(s), and the available information regarding them enigmatic and confusing.

    As a consumer tool, my credit scores are meaningless to me unless I know these things (which I don’t):

    1) Which of my three different credit scores is ‘right’?

    2) What is their significance; that is, are they ‘good’ scores, and if so, to whom…and why?

    3) Against what, exactly, can I compare my scores; that is, where do they fall within the entire spectrum of scores?

    4) Are all scores assessed in the same manner? Were my scores and others’ similar scores arrived at by the same means?

    5) Do score numbers retain consistency; that is, does a score of, say, 725, have the same significance, or meaning, this year as two years ago? Five years ago? Or to put it differently, do I need to update my understanding of what constitutes a ‘good’ number each year?

    How do I make sense out of the credit score miasma? Depending on who is doing the talking, and what circumstances are under discussion, the messages are mixed. As a lay person with limited access to, and understanding of, the inner workings of the whole credit reporting ‘system’, its logic remains indecipherable to me. The conundrum, as I see it:

    1) If, as we are constantly led to believe, credit scores are ‘important’; and

    2) If credit scores vary among the three credit reporting agencies; and

    3) If credit scoring systems vary among various credit issuer’s market segments (i.e. credit scores are not interpreted using a standardized scoring ‘system’ nor used in a standardized manner); then

    4) How are my credit scores even relevant?

    Rather than placing importance on score, which is nothing more than some vague, undefined number, it seems more important to me to review my credit history for completeness and accuracy; then take appropriate action to correct any errors I may discover. I review my credit history annually from each of the three credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax and Trans Union – and I’ve noticed that the scope and range of each always vary. While they are all correct, they all report different data.

    In lieu of any agreed-upon credit score standard (other than the commonly held belief that a higher number is better than a lower number) I use my credit score as a comparison metric; that is, I weigh my three scores for similarity (i.e. do they reasonably agree?) and historical context (i.e. given my credit history, are my scores behaving appropriately/as expected?).

  • swan

    I have never attempted to get my score. I’ve been afraid to put my personal information online. These comments make me worry. Things like, using a different email to be safe, and don’t click but leave if asked for credit card info. If I’ve gotten to the point of them asking me for credit info, I’ve already typed my personal (SS#) and other stuff. Just because I don’t click for the credit card, doesn’t mean they (someone) doesn’t have my (ss#) now. So what’s a person supposed to trust? I just got a bill in the mail for a hosptial bill. I haven’t been in the hospital in at least 15years. I was going to check my credit to see if someone has stollen my identity but it seems like I would be giving it away if I go to any site online?

  • Tomcat

    Can you get your credit score free?? this is a BIG NO!! I tried one of these free sites where they said get your credit score free and I was charged 19 dollars so this free stuff is a bunch of bull crap! So be very careful if you try one of these “free” sites.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Tomcat – There certainly are services that offer free trials for credit score monitoring products. But I can assure you our Credit Report Card is truly free. We don’t ask for a credit card number so it’s not possible to charge you for it. If you need more information (such as credit monitoring or additional credit scores from a different bureau) you will be offered those products, but they are completely optional. Hope that helps!

  • rrose

    Greetings again….
    I have just finished trying the web site. It was easy and simple. It did not cost me anything. I did have to sign in (create an account), (now we’ll see if my email gets spread to the four corners and the spam starts – if this happens I will be back to comment on this point). The questions asked were ‘normal’ for identity verification and the score appeared quickly. My credit is generally quite good so I did not have an issue with the score(s). As usual, the scores are all over the place and have different max limits which just helps confuse the general consumer who is checking their scores. The other two tabs are the ‘up sell’ tabs – look at them but don’t touch anything (click on anything) if you don’t want a credit card or loan – and if you do click on one of them, don’t complain later that you were mislead, dupped, lied to or what ever. As stated by another blogger – YOU are in control of what you click on, look at, deduce, or abuse.
    Be smart, and if you agree that there should be only one scoring system so that everyone is on the same ‘level playing field’, write to your congressman, it’s your RIGHT and you can demand answers – and will usually get them back from their office.
    Make sure you get and correct your complete annaul credit report – it’s very important.


    • Gerri Detweiler

      Thanks Rose for sharing your experiences.

  • rrose

    I just read through all of the comments (including the article). I have not tried the web site Credit.com but will as soon as I have written this comment – after going through the web site I will then report back with my comments about the site.
    I obtain my credit reports directly from the three ‘biggies’ each year and correct any issues (usually an incorrectly reported name or address, accounts that have been opened without my direct verbal consent or my ‘obvious’ knowledge that the account is being created) – these accounts I usually close (which raises the question on whether this hurts the credit scoreS (the upper case S is intended). A comment from Gerri would be helpfull on this point.
    The Fed’s should mandate only one way to calculate a consumers credit score and get rid of all this abiguity, frustration, and general mistrust. (this should get a few comments 🙂 )


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  • Elle

    Go to annualcreditreport.com
    Yes it’s free. No credit card. The 3 main credit reporting companies are here so you get them on-line. You get 1 per company for free a year.
    Read this article. Good stuff.

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  • Jerry

    I use credit.com and i find it a useful tool. but the score i get is not even close to my real score. i recently had a car dealer do a light check on my credit, and it was over 80 points less than credit .com says. so why should i continue to use this as a guide if its not even close to accurate?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Jerry – That’s a great question. As I pointed out in the article you don’t have one score; you have many. In fact, even with the Credit.com Credit Report Card you will see that in addition to the score we provide, we also provide your estimated FICO and VantageScores. (Auto scores, by the way, are going to be more heavily weighted toward how you have handled auto loans in the past.) We hope that what you will find helpful with your Credit Report Card is the breakdown of the factors that are affecting your scores. If they are all A’s then that’s great. But if some aren’t as strong as you like, then you can look for suggestions on what you may be able to do.

      Hope that’s helpful!

  • http://credit.com the silver lady

    i was wondering- if a payment went to collections and then was paid -is there a way to get this put on credit report instead of under collections on report- I have paid off all outstanding credit cards and bills and am looking to improve my score. How do I do this ?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Unfortunately if an account was placed for collection it will be reported as a collection account on your credit reports. That’s true whether it is paid or not. We wrote more about collections and credit reports here.

    • Katie

      One thing you can do after a collections account is paid, go back in and dispute the account on the report, stating that there are inaccuracies reported. They have 30 days to respond. Once it is paid, most creditors will not bother to verify the collection, and many do not update the account to reflect that it is paid. If they do not respond, or if the report is deemed inaccurate, it will be removed. At the very least, your accounts will reflect that you have satisfied the debt, which will improve your credit worthiness.

  • Frank

    Does anybody know where I can get a free burger with my free credit score?

  • donald duck

    Annual Credit Report.com is the only place where you can get a FREE credit report. All of the other sites are a scam!

  • L. Castellano

    Is it true that every time your credit score is ‘hit’ with an inquiry, that it is a mark against your credit?

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  • Eric


    I have a question concerning credit age. Say i have a home mortgage with a bank for 3 years. That loan gets sold to another bank and a new account nubmer is assigned etc. Does the age of that account get reset to zero?



    • Barry Paperno

      Hi Eric,

      No, even after the loan is sold or transferred, the open date for the loan on the credit report remains the same, which is what a credit score looks at to determine the age of the account. To make sure of this, take a look at your credit reports from each of the credit bureaus by going to http://www.annualcreditreport.com.


  • robert love

    I’m not knocking the author or article, they are not at fault. However, the very complexity of the system (designed to squeeze evrey penny they can from us) and the secretive nature of witholding our own information speaks the truth of it.

    There should be a web site that anyone can go to and immediatley see all three reporting systems, all of our our own personal information and all of our scores. This information should be available to use all day every day without exception, exclusion or cost. No sign ups, no marketing, no offered services etc. Once again the very fact that the current system exists speaks the truth of it.

    User, be ware………………………………………..

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Robert – You’re not the only one who feels this way. There have been a number of efforts over the years to increase access.

      We’re trying to do our part with our free Credit Report Card. Unfortunately too few people take advantage of the opportunities we already have to get free reports and scores. The CFPB recently reported that only about 1 in 5 consumers get their credit reports each year even though they are free in a number of circumstances, including the free annual report mandated by federal law.

  • Maggie

    You can get a free credit report from your bank.

    • Paul

      Maggie, the bank will pull the credit report and its a hard pull meaning it will cost you several points on the scoring model. If you pull it through a service like credit.com its a soft pull costing you no points. Be careful!

  • J. Tabor

    My idenity was stolen back in the 90’s. My ex husband and his girlfriend took out student loans in my name. I have been fighting to get them off my credit and stop the collection process since 2000 with no luck. Everytime I start with a “servicer”, my request for a phone hearing is ignored even after I send in all the documents required, and then I don’t hear from anyone for 6mos to several years then a NEW “SERVICER” starts the collection process over. HELP!!!!! I am at my wits end!!!

    • Gerri Detweiler

      J. Tabor –

      Are you aware that the Fair Credit Reporting Act prohibits a creditor from selling or transferring a debt that has been flagged as due to identity theft? It’s possible these servicers are breaking the law. See page 59 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. However, you have to have first taken certain steps such as filing a fraud affidavit. You’ll learn more at IdentityTheft.gov.

      • J. Tabor

        Thanks so much. I’ll try that route.

        • Paul

          your ex husband and his girlfriend took out student loans in your name? Did you sign for them? Why would you sign for your ex husband’s girlfriend? Am I missing some info here?

  • ronald r cutshall

    i was in the hospitol for a few months and being on disabilty when i got out of the hospitol. igot behind on my bills so icalled my creditors to try and set up apayment plan on each of them all but one agreed with my plan one more payment and i ll have them payed off. the others keep calling and i tell i can pay you so much but thats not good enough. so what can i do ican pay so much out of my check

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Unfortunately Ronald, they aren’t required to accept what you can afford to pay. So all you can do is stand firm and pay what you can afford to pay. I talk about that in this story: Four Medical Bill Myths That Can Cost You Dearly. But I’d also warn you that if your medical bills are very large and your income is low it may be that you should have qualified for charity care or a reduction in the original amounts. Not sure if you pursued that, but if you didn’t you may want to try. We have a whole series of articles on medical bills that may be of help to you. For more help dealing with medical bill problems, read The Ultimate Guide to Solving Your Medical Bill Problems.

      • C.D.

        Question: I don’t have the specifics, however I know there are hospitals that allow a one-time (in a lifetime), write-off for procedures due to inability to pay-whether it be no insurance, or denial of procedure through coverage.
        Are you aware of this practice and if so, what criteria (in general), is needed? It may help others before they fall into the financial abyss of medical bills (i.e. paper cup for meds in hospital being charged $40 as a medicinal dispensary unit).

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Hospitals may have a financial assistance policy but it is usually specific to the hospital and will be based on income and other factors. It varies.

  • Roddy6667

    Forget about credit. You don’t need it. A good credit rating is proof that you are good at being a Spendaholic. I have no credit. I also have a paid-for house and a few hundred thousand in savings. Eight years ago I was broke and owed $4000 in medical bills. Don’t play the debt game. Pay cash and don’t let any bank or finance company own you.

    • Paul

      Wow I am impressed! Lets say you live in southern california or the Silicon Valley. So you have a paid for house and never borrowed to own it? First, a 4 bedroom house in neighborhoods with good schools runs around $700,000. How did you scrape up that sum in the past 8 years with no credit? What do you drive? Any decent good working used car is around $7000 +. How did you manage a few hundred thousand in savings? The interest rate on savings is around 1%, doesn’t even cover inflation. So I guess you do not have to ever pull a credit report or use credit cards. How do you travel when you need to rent a car? Pay cash for the deposit? Most rental agencies will not take cash for a deposit. I’m intrigued by your answer, tell us more.

  • Mark

    I am beginning to think that Credit Reports and Scores are all like the Weather Channel. Neither can make up their minds what is the real deal.

    Every time there is a pending snowstorm predicted for the East Coast days in advance, the WC trots out all their forecasting models that never agree on the timing and track of the storm that leaves the traveling public at their mercy how to proceed with travel plans.

    On the Credit side, there are so many reports, scores, etc, it has become extremely difficult to read what is really important in the report and score.

    My point is there are so many details, it is difficult to know how to proceed with anything. What did happen to simplicity?

  • Ahsan Khan

    1) You can check your Credit Report (NOT YOUR CREDIT SCORE!!!) for free once a year from all the 3 agencies on http://www.annualcreditreport.com

    2) You can check you Credit SCORE for free once a month on http://www.credit.com.
    This website shows your credit score ONLY from Experian and NOT the other 2 agencies

    • Michael


      Too much confusion lies in the difference between ‘REPORT’ and ‘SCORE.’

      • Gerri Detweiler

        I agree. The terms are sometimes used interchangeably. And then there is the generic term “your credit” which sometimes refers to scores and sometimes to reports!

  • Mark

    You can get a free credit report but the more deeper you want to dig into your report, then you have to enter a 7 days free trial then pay leter. So in a sense, this is a con job.

    • Michael Schreiber

      Everyone can get all three of their credit reports for free from annualcreditreport.com. It’s federally mandated. The credit report card is truly free… doesn’t require a credit card number. Beyond that there are subscription services if you want access to your credit reports more frequently. No con job here.

  • Leo H

    Thank you for the overview of credit information, even if it’s to direct someone to a proprietary service. Between the answers and the article, this is a helpful thread, but sadly, it also highlights a clear reason why today so many people are in credit trouble and will continue to be, the unnecessarily vague, complicated and convoluted credit control banking has over ordinary peoples’ lives unnecessarily.
    For heaven’s sakes, just days ago there was an article describing discussing a DATE’S credit score after the first or second date!!

    The proffered ‘benefits’ to increased individuals’ credit “score” benefits overwhelmingly favors the financial industry and leaves but scant crumbs of doughnut to the individual while more often ensnaring them in a negative financial fog.

    No reflection intended to the author’s words, just stark reality.

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  • Linda

    Last night I got my TransUnion free credit report but not my credit score. Yes, it took a bit of doing to get past all the sales hype and I was able to download it (first time not by mail!) That was great. I am still leery of putting personal info online. Always go to the website yourself – don’t click “here”. Look for the https:\ which means it’s a secure website. Let you software protection do it’s job. If it pops up saying it’s an unverified site, click it off.
    Also go to Optout (www.consumer.ftc.gov or http://www.optoutprescreen.com) You can “opt-out” of electronic offers for 5 years and mail offer permanently. It has cut my mail and shredding down considerably.
    I did not go to Free Credit Report because you have to open an account. I’m tired of “joining” so many sites and then having to unsubscribe or block all the crap. Last suggestion: Create a separate e-mail just for purchases and offers – I can control what I want much easier than being mixed with my friends/family e-mails.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Good tips Linda! I especially like the separate email trick. I started doing that recently. I like that I can go in periodically and just purge everything that’s old and not worry that I’ve missed a message from a friend. Wish I had done that ages ago.

      I’ll also add that if you want to monitor your credit score, Credit.com’s Credit Report Card is truly free – nothing to cancel. I hope you’ll find that helpful as well.

      • Karen Wunderlin

        What a good idea, Linda. Never thought of a separate email. GOOD THINKING!!

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  • harry

    inquires can hurt lower your number, but what if your shopping around for refinancing your mortgage for the best rates? this may take 3 or 4 loan lenders?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Harry – If you do your mortgage shopping within a relatively short period of time you should be fine. There is a logic built into the scores that groups all mortgage (and separately auto and student loan) inquiries within a specific period of time and counts them as a single inquiry. Depending on which model is used it may be a 14-day or 45-day window. So my advice is to gather all the information you need, be prepared and then spend a serious two weeks shopping. Remember, in addition to the rate make sure you are taking into account closing costs and check out whether the lender/broker you are dealing with has a good reputation. Good luck!

  • Carlo

    I must say that I’m impressed that the author, Gerri, is personally answering some of the comments herein – even the snarky, attitude-laced ones. Now I haven’t tried this service and don’t know if I will, but I respect a person who stands by their product.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Thanks for the kind comment Carlo! We try to help as much as possible.

      • Robin

        I read the article as well as all the comments. I was impressed by the professional responses made by the author and other members of Credit.com, even though some of the comments we very negative and critical in their comments. I realized most of the negativity was made by people who haven’t even tried it. So, I logged in and was able to view my Report Card within seconds. I was amazed by how fast and easy it was. With all the fraudulent scams going on concerning peoples credit this site gave me piece of mind. There was absolutely NOTHING misleading about this sight. THANK YOU GERRI!!!!

  • Brenda

    No…Sight says debit card not good although I was holding it in my hand and verified all numbers!! Just another scam…And they want a monthly payment!!

    • Paul

      what site Brenda are you talking about? Why are you providing a debit or credit card number for a FREE site? Do you know what you are going to pay for? Why provide a number if you are not certain about exactly what you get?

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  • helmut

    this is a scam why is it that credit.com gives me a score and another crreit site gives me another score that is 24 points higher than credit.com. what a joke

    • Michael Schreiber

      Helmut – it’s not a scam, but credit can definitely be confusing. The reality is, as we note in this article, we each have many different scores (“you have many scores, not just one, so trying to figure out which scores matter most can be an exercise in futility.” Different lenders, different credit bureaus, different scoring companies… all use different scoring models. In the Credit Report Card, we provide an Experian Scorex Plus Score, in addition to estimated FICO and Vantage scores. Each can be used to track your overall credit standing, and alert you when there have been changes in the underlying credit information used to generate the score… in other words, if your score rises or drops significantly, you know that something may be going on.

  • H

    I am surprised by the tone of some of the responses to this article written by those who did not fully understand what was written. Read carefully. Think. Take notes if necessary, or print the article and highlight it. All of the information in the article is clear and accurate. Also, once you get to the place in a web site where you are entering personal information, look up at the web address again. The address will have changed somewhat and will begin with the letters “https”, indicating that you are on a secure site. If a web site is asking for your credit card number, the business is trying to “upsell” services you don’t need. Don’t get angry, simply perform the web browsing equivalent of turning around and walking out the door.

    Remember, you are in control of the transaction, and in control of how you react to misunderstandings or frustrations. Be civil, and ask yourself (or the person you are dealing with) what you might have misunderstood or misinterpreted. We usually cause our own problems because of our own haste in reading or acting, or our own misunderstanding.

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  • Anthony

    Not only is it sensitive information (SS#, DOB), the site is not a secure site… But we all know, If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. The Federal Trade Commission sponsored annualcreditreport.com is the only truly free, no-strings, source to get your credit report for free (once a year). However, it does not include a “score” as there are many types of scores out there that will vary depending on the lender and the purpose. The bureaus can still charge you for a specific score like FICO.

    From the FTC site: A Warning About “Imposter” Websites

    Only one website is authorized to fill orders for the free annual credit report you are entitled to under law — annualcreditreport.com. Other websites that claim to offer “free credit reports,” “free credit scores,” or “free credit monitoring” are not part of the legally mandated free annual credit report program. In some cases, the “free” product comes with strings attached. For example, some sites sign you up for a supposedly “free” service that converts to one you have to pay for after a trial period. If you don’t cancel during the trial period, you may be unwittingly agreeing to let the company start charging fees to your credit card.

    Some “imposter” sites use terms like “free report” in their names; others have URLs that purposely misspell annualcreditreport.com in the hope that you will mistype the name of the official site. Some of these “imposter” sites direct you to other sites that try to sell you something or collect your personal information.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Anthony – Can you clarify which site you are talking about not being secure? Both Annualcreditreport.com and the Credit.com Credit Report Card are secure. Perhaps you are referring to a different one?

      • D. Poston

        You use Norton Secured and VeriSign. You call that secure???

  • http://msn.com kathy

    The “free” credit report is only available by mail, and you need to include copies of VERY sensitive information. SSN Card, drivers licence, birth certificate, W2 forms, etc. This is VERY deceiving!!!!

    • Rick

      It is only necessary by mail if you are not able to correctly answer the qualifying questions that are asked. All of those answers, barring anything being incorrect in your actual credit report, are things that one should readily know. They ask for the ‘VERY sensitive information’ to be certain that they are not providing information to anyone other than you. You would be even more upset if they didn’t and all of your information went out to anyone with an envelope and stamp, wouldn’t you?

      I personally check my three reports online by choosing one of the available three every four months. Although they can contain different information, most larger credit providers report to all three agencies. This allows me to see any new accounts on a more frequent basis.

      Yes, you can check them online.

    • ev

      I was trying to get my FREE ANNUAL CREDIT REPORT ONLINE! I FAILED! LOL. SO YESTERDAY I CALLED 877factact (it took me 6,5 minutes. plz go some where very quite). then I did my daughter’ 6.ex). now I’m getting ready to request my 16 yrs old. because all of the crooks. u better check your children’s names. I don’t know about the SCORES YET. BUT I WILL GO ON .GOV AND RESEARCH. SO MY FELLOW NEIGHBORS BECAREFUL. DON’T GIVE OUT ALL THAT SENSITIVE INFO AND YOUR MONEY!

    • Paul

      Kathy, the free credit report is NOT available only by mail. I receive mine online in a matter of a couple of minutes. Very convenient, then I make a hardcopy. Simple and quick.

  • JJ

    And I just hate it when it’s “free” but you have to jump through hoops. You have to sign up for a service to get the freebie, and then remember to cancel the service. Oh, and of course, they will “lose” your cancellation, and then you get charged anyway and have to fight the charge……….

    “Free” isn’t really “free.”

    • http://www.credit.com Gerri

      JJ –

      We hear you. That’s why with Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card, which gives you a free credit score each month, we don’t ask for a credit card number so there is nothing to cancel. 🙂 And with AnnualCreditReport.com, the federally mandated free credit report you get once a year, they may try to upsell you on services but if you don’t go for those, you shouldn’t end up paying anything.

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  • Ronnie Samson

    Norman is correct. The links to Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion will provide you with a free credit report. The actual corresponding credit SCORE is not included in these reports. The above article is fairly vague and seems to be promoting the credit.com website, which I have not used.

    • Michael Schreiber

      Ronnie — there’s no one corresponding score, as the article mentions. There’s no one experian, equifax or transunion score. Many different kinds of scores are calculated based on the information with the credit reporting agency. There are more than 50 FICO scoring models alone. Some scores are educational, meaning they are used by consumers who want to better understand where they stand and what kinds of products to apply for, and then their are scores used by lenders, most of which are proprietary and not available to consumers unless they get an adverse action notice (meaning they were denied credit or given a higher interest rate). But the scores that we give you in the Credit Report Card, are in fact free. One of them is a Scorex Plus Score from Experian, and it is in fact used by some lenders. They other two are estimated FICO and Vantage scores. Here’s some more on the subject, which you may find useful. http://blog.credit.com/2012/04/whats-a-credit-score-really/

  • norman scott

    The answer is NO you cannot get your score for free. You are dishonest. When I try to leave a comment to this effect you “sanitize” and erase it. Nice!

    • Jaime

      use this link: https://www.credit.com/free-credit-score/

      it worked for me. I saw the experian, FICO, and Vantage scores.

      • Heather Johnston

        I think some people reading this article need to first KNOW the difference between a credit SCORE and a credit REPORT.

        My husband and I were both able to pull our scores successfully as well as two comparative ones using that free website. It did ask us for an email address but not for a credit card and we did NOT have to even sign up for so much as a regular email.

        I have had no trouble requesting our credit reports in the past from the free government site. I usually pull once every 3-4 months from only ONE site, thus they are free each time. I realize this isn’t as accurate as pulling all 3 several times per year but have found it fast and free.

      • alan bennett

        I once thought there were only 3 reporting agencies: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. I learned that because some agencies are “used” by potential creditors more than others, the “number” you receive as your credit number may differ between the agencies. Since, however, I’m finding out there are more agencies such as FICO and Vantage, neither of which I knew of. I’m wondering how many other reporting agencies are out there, and which of the agencies are “used”, and consequently, more reliable in giving you fair credit report than others. Do all agencies rely on monthly credit accounts more than existing ‘debts”? or is it more the “existing debt” that is the controlling issue in determining credit worthiness? Like one gentleman wrote, I have a fear about giving out certain information to what appears is a secure site but may not be, and I don’t want bombarded with phone calls and emails from prospective credit companies looking or my business. How do I know I’m getting a square deal? How do I know what website to use to check my credit report and get the most used reporting agencies’ information about me?

        • Anacio

          Alan, there are three main CREDIT BUREAUS, Experian, Equifax, Transunion. They receive information about your financial habits from your creditors – banks, credit card companies, mafia bosses, etc. FICO (Fair Isaac Corp) is a CREDIT SCORING company. It analyzes information provided by the credit bureau and calculates a credit score (FICO Score) based on this information, and its obscure, tortured logic. It charges the credit bureaus when it provides them with the score. It originated the whole game back in the 1950s. Wishing to save the fees to FICO, the credit bureaus came up with their own scoring system, the Vantage score. Almost nobody uses the Vantage score. The only score worth obtaining is the FICO.

        • joma kenyatta

          Alan, there are three main CREDIT BUREAUS, Experian, Equifax, Transunion. They receive information about your financial habits from your creditors – banks, credit card companies, mafia bosses, etc. FICO (Fair Isaac Corp) is a CREDIT SCORING company. It analyzes information provided by the credit bureau and calculates a credit score (FICO Score) based on this information, and its obscure, tortured logic. It charges the credit bureaus when it provides them with the score. It originated the whole game back in the 1950s. Wishing to save the fees to FICO, the credit bureaus came up with their own scoring system, the Vantage score. Almost nobody uses the Vantage score. The only score worth obtaining is the FICO.

      • Paul

        Norman, believe me I get a free credit score via credit.com from experian every 30 days for the past 4 months. It is true. Avoid the experian site, they charge for everything! Hope this helps.

  • Norman Scott

    You can look at a report but you can’t have your credit score for free. I went to the experion site. The article is not accurate. Have we totally given up on being straight with people?

    • Jaime

      I just tried the site and I didn’t think I would get the score for free. Amazingly I did. I had my BF get on too and his score showed up. Don’t go directly to Experian, they wont give it to you, you have to go through Credit.com, but you can only do every 30 days.

    • Mike

      YEs…but you have to sign up for a credit monitoring service that will charge you after a certain time.


    Very information article. QUESTION; when you company compiles the score how is the inquiry input? Hard, Soft or consumer request ??

    • Gerri Detweiler


      Glad you found it helpful. The inquiry created when consumers use the Credit.com free Credit Report Card is a consumer inquiry, and it is a soft inquiry.

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  • Dan Forde

    Your article indicates that you can get a free credit report every 30 days. Does that mean for free? I have always heard and read that you get a free report ONLY ONCE each year! Confirm if true or not true!

    • Gerri Detweiler


      As I mention in the second sentence you can get your free credit reports once a year from AnnualCreditReport.com. I wrote about how to get extra free copies of your credit reports here.

      However, you can get your free credit score once every 30 days from Credit.com using our free Credit Report Card. Hope that helps!

  • http://AOL Laura Barmettler

    The title question was never answered. Can you really get your credit score for free? Yes or No? It is a simple yues or no question.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Hi Laura –

      The answer is yes. 🙂 They can use our free Credit Report Card mentioned in the first paragraph to get their credit score every 30 days. It’s truly free – no credit card number is requested. Thanks for letting me clarify that.

      • Dean

        No, you can’t get it for free at credit report card.com. Yes, it says no credit card required, but if you read the fine print they want to pull your credit (soft pull which won’t affect your score) so they can send you pre-qualified credit offers ‘until you cancel the service’. That’s how they make their money (and give it to you for ‘free’). Credit companies pay them to “pre-qualify” you for offers. Don’t fall into that trap! I say, just pay your bills on time and do what you’re supposed to….the rest will fall into place. If you really NEED to see your credit report, just pay the $5, or whatever it cost, on the REAL credit websites, or go to annualcreditreport.com and get a free copy (but I don’t think that one provides the score, just the history) and get you a copy.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Sorry if I wasn’t clear Dean. I was referring to Credit.com, not the website you mentioned. You’re correct that the AnnualCreditReport.com website that you mentioned s the place to get your federally mandated free copy of your credit reports from each of the major credit reporting agencies. I recommend requesting those as well.

          • Ed

            I went to this http://www.annualcreditreport.com & printed the forms as stated!
            I filled out (1) for each of us, as was stated form & mailed those into Annual Credit Report Request Service followed by the stated address on the form.
            Doted all the T’s & all the I’s, etc., step by step!
            Later I received mine but my wife never received hers.
            Therefore I sent a letter requesting, attached a copy of the filed out form, as to why she never received her C/R but never a reply.
            Later, perhaps a month or so went by, still nothing!
            I sent a 2nd requesting letter, same as stated.
            To this date & time she did receive (1) from Trans but nothing again from Equifax nor Experian!
            Someone had to have received @ least (1) of my letters due to her receiving a report from Trans..
            Later I read an online article, dated: 02/20/2013, titled somethinmg as:
            “10 things credit bureaus won’t say!”
            After reading the article, I am having a concern here trying to comprehend what is fact or fiction!
            Either way, I dislike being totally ignored especially after I sent (2) request letters,
            we have decided to go another route rather than this So-Called,
            “FREE Credit Report!”
            This ” FREE ” word reminds me of a saying of long times past as follows:
            ” Believe in half of what you see & None of what you hear! “

          • Gerri Detweiler

            Ed – Your wife should be able to get her own credit reports. Something isn’t right here. I’d suggest you file a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

          • Larry Curtis

            Gerri, I hate to be “Got” by anyone. One way you can get a “Free Report” for a whole year is a formula a friend told me. You can get a free report once a year from each one. In order to receive an accurate report, each company is required to get a report from the other two companies. So now start the formula. In January ask Trans Union for a free report. Then in May ask Equifax for a report. Then in September ask Experian for a report. Then guess what, it is January and you have received a whole year for free. Have a good day and good reports.

          • Gerri Detweiler

            Larry – I sort of agree with that strategy. If this is the first time you are getting your reports to review, I suggest getting all three at once. They don’t share information with each other and if there is a mistake on just one you’ll want to know. After the first year, I think it’s fine to stagger them.

            Also, if you are aware there is a mistake on one then get the other two. You’ll want to make sure the correction is made with all the agencies reporting the error.

        • israel

          You said it all thank you

        • Sally

          you are absolutely right..There is nothing in this world specially in internet that is free.
          I been trap in the internet so be careful of FREE OFFERING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • Michael Schreiber

            Well, the credit report card is actually free. The article you are reading is also free, along with all the other articles here. Well… you’re paying for your Internet service. You got me there.

        • NAN

          I go to AnnualCreditReport.com every year in my birth month. It’s free, PLUS I remember when I checked it last.

      • liarliarpantsonfire

        NO — in letters 10 feet high. There is no such thing as a free lunch. The credit reporting agencies are greedy bastards that don’t comply with the law. They always look for some minor technicality to deny giving you your free report. In my case, I sent a notarized letter to prove my identity, and they still refused to provide the free report.

        • Justa namennumber

          I had the same experience. I wrote to all three and provided a mountain of identity verification. They sent letters saying I must further answer these questions to prove my identity. The question was multiple choice, where did I get my mortgage from and there were three or four financial institutions listed. I’ve never had a mortgage….never. There was no option for N/A. I told them that and never got a response from any of them. It’s just maddening and shouldn’t be that way. Something is very wrong with credit bureaus and my instinct is to back away and not f*** with them. It’s only an exercise in aggravation.

          • Gerri Detweiler

            Were you ever able to get your reports? If not, I would suggest you complain to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They seem to be doing a good job of responding to consumer complaints.

          • Kim

            Just want to let you know I order my credit reports from annualcreditreport.com every year. By law they have to provide you with one free credit report for each of the three reporting agencies once a year however, the credit score does cost $6.00 at least that is what it was the last time I ordered. The questions that you are asked are to verify your identity some of them are intentionally incorrect to prove who you are and the have a box to check for none of the above when no me of the answers match your history.

          • Credit.com

            In cases like this you might consider filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB was granted a supervisory role over the credit reporting industry (over the credit bureaus) in July 2012. It’s def. a good place to start if you feel like you’re getting stuck in an endless cycle and getting nowhere.

      • http://yahoo michael d.

        hold on….
        i had to purchase a credit service….i’m not saying that i think it was worth it….
        although the service is expensive after a week…
        i will say that i found some issues i need to address…..
        although i am NOT doing the credit thing anymore…because i think people are CHEATED by greedy companies that use our need to provide for our famillies,survive in a hostile and decietful world to put us over a barrel…because they know we have no choice unless we want to live under a rock…..
        but i guess i will find out how safe this site is…and blog about it on u-tube….and anywhere else i can….if

        • John

          You spelled deceitful rong!

          • Kathy

            Go play control freak somewhere else…

          • Ronda

            LOL how do you spell WRONG??!!!

          • http://me.com Whut Whut Whut??

            Im’s thinnkin he spellded bisseness wrung, rite??

    • mswalli

      The article in fact tells you that you can get a copy of your credit report for FREE and even provides a couple of website addresses. Don’t know what you were reading!

      • Linda

        No you cannot relie on free credit scores, they are normally higher than what mortgage lenders find when they call the agencies they contact. know that for a fact they were off anywhere from 10 to 20 points, makes a big difference when looking at mortgaging a house

        • darrin

          so true linda!!!!!!!!! my home lenders came up with totally different numbers than these free credit scores, and like you said……..they were off up to 20 points.

          • Mag

            Depends on which credit score you’re talking about. The Vantage credit score that the credit agencies are using are higher than your FICO score. Just make sure you know which one your mortgage lender uses and check both so that you know.

          • Paul

            Not exactly true. I rely on free credit scores. I rely on free credit reports. If you want the exact same report that lenders use, ask them which credit score they utilize then order a copy for you. Yes it will be slightly different since auto lenders get a scoring model that matches up with and emphasizes auto credit. Same for home mortgage lenders. Your borrowing capacity is also important thus the lender wants more info than a credit score. There are a number of credit scoring models so ask first. If they refuse to provide the info, seek your loan elsewhere!

      • Rosa

        The article brushes over the topic and focuses more on how to reach your credit score etc… Like many others I fear going to these sites becaue I don’t trust them, the title of the article makes you believe you will learn more about the sites, what are good sites to go to, why some are better than other sites, which one’s protect your privacy and don’t sell you info for marketing purposes etc etc etc…. I appreciate the comments may of that have been posted because they actually teach you stuff to help you be a smart consumer and how to protect your self, so at the end I’m getting the info I was looking for but it didn’t some from Gerri, it came from the readers who shared their story. Thanks to all who posted their comments!

    • Fred

      Another hidden “bait” just like the “free trials” that do not let you in on the consequences if you do not cancel within a month or two. Pure graft. Your credit card company will help you with these type scams. They helped me.

      When tempted, remember this–why would they do it for “free”? It costs them! There is nothing for free!

      • Paul

        Annual Credit Report is free. Its made available as part of some federal consumer laws. So yes some things are free.

        • Mike

          You are entitled to a free credit report every year. However, they are NOT required to give you your CREDIT SCORE. Consumers must pay to see their credit scores. So, in a nutshell, one can get his credit report free, but not the credit score.

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