Free Versus Paid Credit Reports

By law, every American citizen is eligible to receive one free credit report per year from the major reporting agencies such as TransUnion, Experian or Equifax. However, if you need another one within that twelve month period, you will have to pay a small fee.

Minor differences in the score offered by these companies mainly depend on the reporting agency they rely. Experian National Risk Sore is offered by Credit Sesame and they formulate data collected by Experian in the process.

A free estimate of your score is also provided by other websites that is rooted in data developed by Experian. With some systems, instead of receiving a number, your credit worthiness is designated with a letter grade. Companies such as Credit Karma provide two forms of measurement, including the TransRisk credit score and VantageScore both developed from data collected from TransUnion.

In order to get your free credit report, there are a number of methods to request through the internet, phone or mail. Should you need an additional report than the one provided free by law, you may have to pay a small fee to receive additional reports. The major credit bureaus that provide the free reports also deliver paid services as well.

Be cautious of sites that offer free reports as a marketing device to get you to sign-up for credit protection services and other applications. These forms of security can be expensive with dubious results in terms of security. Often they offer a free trial period for the service with your credit report. Once the period ends, you are billed a monthly fee.

As the data surrounding your credit is similar, you should receive a similar score regardless of from where you retrieve it. Your FICO score and you credit score will mirror each other in their values. Regardless of the models used, if you have fine credit you will have a strong score. In contrast, immaterial of the models used, you will have a poor score, if your credit is shoddy.

It is prudent to check your scores on all three major credit agency websites. With this approach, you can determine if there is a mistake on either your TransUnion or Experian credit reports and vice versa. You can also consider these measurement with regard to the readings you receive from sites like

At the same time, it may seem overwhelming to track them all since there are so many kinds of scores out there and lenders pick and choose which ones to evaluate. Just don’t get too caught up in the number itself. Be more concerned with type of risk profile you present to lenders. Remember that your income and job status can influence lending decisions just as much as your FICO score.


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