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What Is A Credit Report? How To Get Yours For Free

Dayana Yochim  |  December 10, 2023

What is a credit report? Hint: something that can have a big impact on your life. Here's how to get yours for free.

What is a credit report? That’s a question every person should know the answer to. If you’re not in the know, or are looking for information on how to get yours (weekly) for free, read on. 

What Is A Credit Report?

A credit report is a statement that details your current credit activity and your credit history (for example, what credit cards you have, information on loans in your name, etc.). Credit companies–also referred to as credit bureaus–receive information from creditors (like your credit card company or lenders), and package it all up in what’s known as your credit report. 

The Best Things In Life Are Free…Including Your Credit Report

The information on your credit report helps formulate your credit score. This number can have a big impact on your life, as it influences everything from whether lenders will loan you money (and at what interest rate) to whether someone will rent an apartment to you.  In simple terms, it gives decision makers an idea about how reliable you are when it comes to paying your bills. For more on how to read your credit report, click here

The COVID-19 pandemic turned life–and finances–upside down for Americans. In response, the three credit reporting agencies (also known as credit bureaus) Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, began offering free access to credit reports. The program was extended twice and then made permanent in 2021. In pre-pandemic times, free credit file access was limited to one per year from each of the three major credit bureaus, as mandated by federal law. Pulling a report once every three months provided us a quarterly window into what lenders and other entities were saying about us. Now the floodgates of credit information have been flung wide open. If you use your all-access pass to pull three reports every week, you’ll have more than 150 files of riveting bedtime reading for the next year. And yes, that might be overkill, but it’s so nice to know that we can access this information whenever we want it!

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How To Get Your Free Credit Report

First, go to and click on the “Request your free credit reports” button at the top of the page. Then, follow these steps:

  • Fill out a form to request your report. You’ll provide your name, current address, previous address (if you’ve lived at your current residence for less than two years) and Social Security number.
  • Indicate which credit report you want (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion) or all three in one visit.
  • Answer some questions to verify your identity. You’ll repeat this step for each credit report, and the questions will be different (and in my experience, perhaps a little odd).
  • Print your report, save it as a PDF, or view it online. Note: Online viewing requires lots of scrolling.
  • Click “Get your next report or finish” at the top of the page. You can review multiple credit reports in one session, or spread the fun across several days of the week and come back to pull your credit report from a different bureau.

Be careful not to inadvertently sign up for a for-pay credit monitoring product or credit score — offers will be made on the page, so just close out of them if they pop up. But don’t close your browser window completely, as it will cause you to lose access to that week’s free report. (In other words, finish up your business before navigating back to your inbox.) 

What’s Not Included: A Free Credit Score

The information in the credit reports you pull from will NOT include your credit score. (They’re not legally required to offer it.)  So brace yourself for the hard sell for this, as well as other credit monitoring products. 

Of course if you’re interested in services like these, by all means, sign up — just don’t feel like you have to. These days, free credit score access is offered by many banks and credit unions, lenders, credit card companies and websites like CreditKarma.   

What To Do With All That Credit Info

Getting a free weekly credit report from all three bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — may at first seem like overkill. But, actually, it’s smart to take them up on their offer, at least every month. Consider the following: 

  • If you notice something that doesn’t look quite right on your report, it could be a red flag for fraud or identity theft. Regularly reviewing your report can help you avoid becoming a victim. 
  • Free weekly credit reports will help you know where you stand if you’re applying for a mortgage, refinancing, or getting a car loan or college loan in the near future. 

Wondering what to look for on your report? This checklist from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a good guide to what to look for as you scour those PDFs. If you spot any funny business, here’s how to dispute an error on your credit reportTake this opportunity to catch errors quickly before they do permanent damage to your credit score.


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