how to get your free credit report every week

Here’s How to Get Your Free Credit Report Every Week

Do you know what’s on your credit report? Did you know you can check it for free this week, and guess what? You can check it again for free next week, and the following week!

Everyone should check their credit report at least once a year to see what’s on there and to check for errors. The three main credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and Transunion now allow you to get a free copy of your credit report as often as once a week. This was inspired by Covid-19, but it’s now a permanent feature. The process is easy and completely free, so you have no excuse.

Why We Have Weekly Access to Our Credit Report

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we only had free access to our credit report once per year. Not only did COVID-19 wreck our daily lives, but it also affected our finances. In 2020, Equifax, Experian, and Transunion gave Americans free weekly access to credit reports to help monitor their financial health. The service was extended twice before all three bureaus announced in October 2023 that Americans now have permanent access to free weekly credit reports.

Why You Want Your Credit Report

Lenders check your credit report when deciding whether or not to grant you a loan or a credit card. It tells them how many loans you have, how many credit cards, if you’ve ever been late on payments, and how many hard and soft inquiries you have.

But there can be mistakes on it that hurt your credit score, which is why you should review it every so often. Mistakes can include things like late payments to a bankruptcy that’s not even yours. If there are significant errors, you may have been the victim of identity theft. The sooner you report these errors, the sooner your credit report will be fixed. Even one late payment can affect your future interest rates.

How to Get Your Free Credit Report

Go to AnnualCreditReport.com to request your free report or reports. You can choose one from the credit bureau of your choice, or all three.

Other websites offer you access to your credit report, but many of them charge for the service or sell your information. In the interest of good journalism, I went through the process of obtaining my credit report so you can do it, too.

Go to AnnualCreditReport.com and click the button, “Request your free credit report.” You’ll enter your name, address, social security number, and how long you’ve been at your current address. If it’s less than two years, you’ll have to put in your previous address.

Choose what credit bureau you want your report from: Experian, Equifax, or Transunion. You can request one from each if you want. I chose Experian. Then you’ll put in your phone number so they can either call or text to verify it’s you. I felt a mild ripple of fear at this, but it was easy: I got a text and I clicked the link. Easy peasy.

You’ll have to answer some tougher questions, or at least AnnualCreditReport.com said they would be tougher. Anyone with at least a nodding acquaintance with their finances should be able to answer the questions without looking anything up. They asked me what my monthly mortgage payment was (multiple choice), my current or previous employer (again, multiple choice), and which bank I have a specific loan with. Choose from five options.

And that’s it! Access to your credit report is almost instantaneous. As soon as I answered all the questions correctly, I got my report. It shows:

  • credit card accounts
  • hard inquiries
  • soft inquiries
  • anything potential negative
  • mortgages
  • car loans

The most surprising thing to me was how many soft inquiries there were.

Credit Report vs. Credit Score: What’s the Difference?

Keep in mind, your credit report is different than your credit score. Your credit report will not show your credit score, but there are some free ways you can monitor it, too.

Some credit cards offer access to your credit score as part of your benefits. Capital One, American Express, and Chase offer access to everyone. Bank of America, Discover, Barclays, and U.S. Bank offer it for cardholders. Citi and Wells Fargo offer it on some accounts.

Read more: How to Check Your Credit Score for Free

Your credit score is a number, somewhere between 350 (terrible) and 850 (excellent). There are a few different methods used to calculate your score, which is why your credit score may vary by a few points. Common methods to calculate your credit score include Vantage and FICO.

See also: Best Credit Cards for a 600 Credit Score (With Approval Odds)

Your credit score will take into consideration how many open accounts you have, if you have any late payments, any bankruptcies, the age of your accounts (how long you’ve had them), and your credit utilization. Credit utilization is how much you owe vs. how much credit you have available. For example, if you have a total of $20,000 in credit card limits and you owe $6,000, your credit utilization is 30%. Lenders like to see credit utilization under 30%.

How to Report Errors in Your Credit Report

Credit bureaus make mistakes. If you find a mistake in your credit report, write to the credit bureau. Describe what you think is wrong, and supply copies of any supporting documents. Sometimes the credit bureaus have a form for you to fill out. Make sure you keep a record of everything you send, and check your credit report frequently to see if the error has been removed.

The credit bureau will investigate your claim and react accordingly. All three credit bureaus can also accept disputes online or over the phone. Once it is done investigating, it will mail you the results along with a copy of your credit report.

Summary

Keeping up with your credit report is essential to your financial wellness. And it’s easy! It takes about ten minutes from beginning to end, and it could save you a lot of headaches later on.

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