Best Credit Score Site
If you haven't pulled your credit report in the last year, then you're entitled to request a credit report from each one of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). Though there are three major credit bureaus, there are many other credit reporting services that can offer you your best credit report. In this review I looked at reports and paid services, here are some options.
There are around 40 million people with mistakes on their credit report. It's important to check your credit report so creditors, land lords and potential employers are looking at accurate representations of your credit. We've explored the different reporting services available to find the best offerings.
Best Credit Report Site: What is Credit?
Credit is basically where you stand when it comes to your finances and reflects your status as a borrower. It's the way banks and other financial institutions determine whether or not you will be able to pay back loans based on your financial history. For example, when applying for a car loan, financing centers will look at how quickly and consistently you have paid back other loans and bills.
This will help them decide if you are dependable when it comes to money. This also applies to all sorts of institutions like student loan lenders, banks, credit unions, cell phone companies, landlords, utility companies, and even employers. Believe it or not, many employers check a prospective employee's credit history before hiring them. This helps them determine whether or not the employee will be financially stable. Credit is who you are financially.
Credit also takes time to build up. Paying your bills on time for two months will not automatically give you amazing credit. In fact, some landlords may check your credit, but they won't go through the trouble of reporting whether or not you pay your rent on time. Building your credit reputation requires different kinds of loans and a long history of paying them on time.
Think of it this way; your credit history acts as a resumé for whether or not banks and financial institutions want to do business with you. They want to see if you are dependable when it comes to paying back different loans. Do you pay your car payments on time? Do you pay your mortgage when it's due? Questions such as these determine if you are able to finance with them.
Best Credit Score Site: What to Consider
Are you wondering why you should enroll in a credit report service if you have the choice to receive your credit score and report annually? The biggest advantage lies in the host of additional features you receive as part of your enrollment package. These include things like financial alerts, identity protection, credit monitoring and so on.
These features are important because they are safety measures to prevent inaccurate details from showing up under your information, fraudulent charges from thieves, and a comprehensive snapshot of your financial affairs. Assess the five organizations listed in this review and select the one which suits your needs most adequately. When examining your report pay close attention to these eight key indicators:
- Wide variety of plan options – Does your credit report site give you different payment options? Do they provide multiple features? Do they offer credit reporting? What other plans can they provide?
- Credit monitoring – How does your credit report site let you monitor your credit? Is there a way to track the history of your credit? Can you see what actions might affect your credit positively or negatively? How many different resources can they give you?
- Mobile app capabilities – Does your site have an app that can give you access to credit monitoring while you are on the go? Can you accurately monitor your credit on your tablet or smartphone? Can you access all your sites' features through their app?
- Identity protection service included – Can your credit report site offer you identity protection services in case someone steals your identity? Can they help you if someone has unauthorized access to your credit? Can they report identity theft to other financial institutions?
- FICO & VantageScore – How accurately can your site provide you with your FICO and VantageScore? Do they have tools to improve your rating?
- Additional educational resources to learn about the process – Can they offer you educational tools to help you become better at managing your credit? Do they offer you financial education to be a more informed consumer? What videos and articles can they give you to help you learn more?
- One-time report option – Does your service provide a one-time report option? Can you sign up for a one-time service instead of paying monthly fees?
- Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – Does your service provide you with access to information from all three major credit bureaus? Does it cost extra?
With consideration to the above factors, our choices for best credit report service include Experian, MyFICO and TransUnion, as these sites offer a wealth of features and useful tools. You can read up on more information by looking through our articles related to credit reporting.
Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion: Which Credit Report is Best?
The US has three national credit bureaus that constantly update and record consumer credit histories: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. All three collect credit information in similar ways but may provide different credit scores. The reason being, they may have different things they look at for different methods of collecting information.
The best credit reporting agency will show all three scores. Some financial institutions may use scores from two bureaus and not the third. It is important to keep track of all three so that you know where you stand with all of them to give you the best credit reports possible. This could keep you from getting approved for certain loans.
Benefits of the Best Credit Score Site
Lenders use the credit reporting system to gauge your creditworthiness when you apply for a loan. Your credit report contains your credit score, which lenders use to calculate the interest rate you quality for.
The credit reporting bureaus gather information on your credit history and sell it to lenders. Your creditors provide information about you to the bureaus via a standard electronic reporting system. The credit information is sold to mortgage lenders, credit card companies, landlords, banks, insurance companies, employers and landlords. When you apply for a job, an apartment, credit and insurance, businesses and lenders consider your credit report in their decision.
Credit Bureaus and Credit Report Services
Consumers are entitled to request a credit report from the three major credit bureaus each year, TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. There are also several credit reporting services offering a wide range of additional features above and beyond the annual report. These services help you keep your financial house in order. Here are profiles of the top credit report agencies featuring services like credit monitoring and identity theft protection.
Identity Theft Protection
Credit report services monitor your credit in order to protect against identity theft. With over ten million Americans affected by identity theft each year, it has become critical to keep an eye on your credit. Identity thieves have become adept at using technology to commit a crime, but also use old school techniques such as looking through discarded papers.
With the purchase of credit monitoring services, you gain peace of mind that your credit is under scrutiny for suspicious activity. While customer service varies from each company, most will contact you within 24 hours of unusual activity.
Before signing up with a credit report service, compare the offerings from several services to find the best fit for you, as each has its own bundle of features on offer.
Highly rated Experian offers an easy user interface, online dispute tool and unlimited access to your Experian report and credit score. They provide identity theft protection and customer service via text and email. A one-time credit report option is available too.
The scoring model used by Myfico is the most common lending model, that used by large lending institutions. They have a large library on credit matters, Identity theft protection and ongoing reports from credit bureau Equifax (but not the other two major credit bureaus). Customer service is good, with a highly qualified staff available to help with your questions and concerns.
The Creditera service offers real time alerts, interactive credit score tools, identify theft protection and monthly reports. Their score summary tool puts your credit score in context with demographic information from consumers like you. Some of their features are aimed more at small business than individuals, but they are still highly rated.
Be sure to compare monthly rates from each service before purchasing. Certainly, you want identity theft protection from your service, but check each to see if they include access to information for all three major credit report bureaus. Keep in mind that consumers are eligible to receive a credit report each year from those three major bureaus.
The Best Credit Report Sites
Knowing your credit score is an essential part of managing your finances. Getting a credit report online is a good place to start but some companies offer additional services. Luckily, there are a variety of credit report sites from which to choose.
Experian Credit Report Review
- Online dispute tool
- Easy-to-view dashboard
- Unlimited access to Experian report/PLUS score
- Identity theft protection
- Educational resources
- Not the most widely used scoring model
Experian is one of the top credit reporting agencies in the world, having operated in more than 40 countries. They keep you informed on the latest news regarding your credit, while gathering information from the other two main credit bureaus, Equifax and Transunion. Experian also provides you with many different tools to gauge how certain actions may affect your score.
MyFICO Credit Report Review
- Most common scoring model
- Large educational library
- FICO Score Simulator
- Alerts of changes
- Identity theft protection
- Don’t receive consistent reports from all three bureaus
MyFico is one of the most accurate ways to determine your FICO scores while giving you monthly access to new credit reports. This is an important resource when researching mortgage, auto, and credit card lending agencies that use FICO scores to determine if you're creditworthy. One of the main features is a timeline that lets you track your score over time.
TransUnion Credit Report Review
- Fraud alerts
- Credit freeze feature
- Educational resources
- Helpful business tools
- Competitively priced reporting
- Only reports from one bureau
Transunion, in addition to being one of the three major credit bureaus, offers some off the best credit management software online. They also give you up to date alerts and protection in case of fraud. Additionally, they provide plenty of educational articles to help you make the best decisions when it comes to managing your credit.
Nav Credit Report Review
- Interactive scoreboard
- Score summary
- Updated reports each month
- Real-time alerts
- Identity theft protection
- No Equifax Score
- Better suited to small businesses
Nav gives you a detailed look into your credit while giving you insights and analysis into different factors that may be influencing your score. Additionally, Nav will let you see if your score has increased or decreased since the last time you logged into your account, while supplying you vital tools such as real-time identity protection monitoring.
Quizzle Credit Report Review
- Secure encryptions keep information safe
- Helpful tools with premium plan
- Educational resources
- Free report isn't frequently updated
Quizzle is a great way to check your credit for free. You can get a free credit score and free credit report from one of the most accurate resources on the web. You can even get a free VantageScore credit score and an Equifax credit score every three months.
Best Credit Report Site - Hard Inquiry vs. Soft Inquiry
You may be unfamiliar with the difference between a hard and soft credit inquiry so now is a good time to clear up any confusion. A hard inquiry is reported when you are actively trying to get credit. For example, taking out a car loan or a student loan would be considered a hard inquiry and that would affect your credit score. A soft inquiry, on the contrary, is created when you receive things like credit card offers and pre-approved 'promotional offers'. Also, inquiries on behalf of an insurance company or potential employer are also typically ignored when your score is calculated.
Be Careful of Hard Inquiries
Hard inquiries into your credit are vital when you are trying to apply for certain types of loans. However, too many hard inquiries can cause damage to your score. A typical hard inquiry will decrease your score a few points. When you apply for multiple types of financing, this can greatly affect your score, as it can make you seem desperate or unable to qualify for credit.
Another thing to consider is that hard inquiries can be disputed, but only if they have been done without your permission. If you have authorized the hard inquiry, it can take up to two years to be removed from your credit report. Also, the best way to dispute them is to contact the credit bureau directly, as this will put in touch with the right people to help you.
So be careful when seeking out multiple sources for a new car, home, or student loan, as they can do more damage than you think.
How to Use the Best Credit Report Site to Clean Up Your Credit
You can take effective ways to clean up your credit, no matter how tarnished it is. There are specific things you can do as a borrower, but other tasks require analytical savvy and you should seek the expertise of professionals. To give your credit its erstwhile polish, first determine your total debt and compare that amount to what lenders are reporting to the credit agencies. Then identify and fix potential errors, making sure you reach out to the right people.
As a borrower, you have rights and duties, so make sure to contact professionals like lawyers and debt consolidation specialists, among others, to determine what options are available to you. Once you clean up your credit, you can effectively control it by monitoring your credit profile continually and knowing your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
1. How Do I Determine My Total Debts?
To calculate your total debt, use an Excel spreadsheet or other types of template and list things like lender, amount owed, average interest payment and type of debt. Also, indicate the monthly payment and outstanding balance. You can use an online resource like the debt management tool provided by the nonprofit InCharge Debt Solutions.
You can also contact your bank account manager and ask him or her whether the bank has a tool to calculate and track personal debts. Go through your bills to determine your total debt payments. Also, pore over your bank statements to figure out those loans you pay electronically and for which the lenders don't send regular paper bills.
2. How Do I Know What's On My Credit Report?
By law, you have the right to receive a copy of your credit report every 12 months as long as you remain a U.S. citizen or legal resident and have sent a specific request to the credit agencies. Contact one of the top credit reporting agencies and request your credit report – it's called "statutory annual credit file disclosure," and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) mandates that each agency grants your request. Remember that you can place a request via phone, online and by mail.
3. Are There Effective, Quick Ways to Fix Errors on My Credit Report?
There are two steps in disputing and fixing errors on your credit report. First, send a letter to the credit reporting agency, indicating what information you think is incorrect. Provide any supporting documentation, such as bank statements, debt-release paperwork and correspondence you've had with lenders. In the letter, clearly state your name, address and each item you dispute. Use bullet points and break down each dispute by using words like "what," "who," "when" and "how much."
For example, if you disagree with the amount owed on a credit card account, clearly state what the dispute is about, who the lender is, when the item under dispute originated, and how much money you think you don't owe. Send your letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you have proof it was delivered, who signed for it, and when it was delivered.
The credit reporting agency would investigate your claim, notify the other two agencies, and contact the respective service providers. It will contact you within 30 to 60 days, and if your claim is valid, it will send notices of correction to various parties – such as lenders, credit agencies, insurers, companies that may have denied you employment based on your credit report, and landlords.
The second step in disputing credit errors is sending a letter to the reporting lender or institution. Use the same approach and detail level you used when sending correspondence to the credit reporting agencies. Contact the lender to determine the best and quickest way to file a dispute. Service providers typically allow customers to file disputes over the phone, online and via mail.
After receiving your dispute, the lender will investigate it and notify you within 30 to 60 days. The creditor also will notify the credit reporting agencies of the pending dispute. If the lender finds that your claim is accurate – that is, you don't owe anything or not as much as reported - it will not report that debt again.
5. Who Can I Talk to for Help?
Contact your state or local consumer affairs bureau and ask them about resources available in areas like debt management, credit cleanup, credit correction and debt counseling.
You can also contact, and file a complaint with, the Federal Trade Commission, the agency in charge of promoting consumer protection and eliminating anti-competitive business and lending practices.
Seek the help of a nonprofit specialized in credit report cleanup; alternatively, you can reach out to a for-profit debt management company. Contact your state's Department of Financial Services or the Better Business Bureau's local branch in your residence area. Give priority to debt organizations that are registered with state officials and the BBB.
Get legal representation, especially if the amount under dispute is substantial. Seek a lawyer who is familiar with the intricacies of debt management and has covered cases of credit cleanup in the past.
6. What Are My Rights?
As a consumer, you have several rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. For example, if a company uses credit information against in an insurance, employment or credit decision, you must be notified. The same requirement applies if the credit reporting agencies discover and/or fix inaccurate data in your credit report. You also have the right to know your credit report's contents. Other restrictions touch on how much and what others can see in your credit file, the fact that your consent is required before certain disclosures, and your right to sue someone who violates the law by accessing your file and using its contents without your approval.
You can clean up your credit and gradually control it if you know your rights and talk to the right people, especially those versed in the subtleties of debt management, settlement and consolidation. To make the cleanup effort a success, you should also know what is in your credit report and fix whatever inaccuracies it might contain.
Advice for the Finding the Best Credit Score Site
Before you make a decision on what credit report service to use, make sure to check out our advice guides to get all the information you need. We offer plenty of great resources to answer your credit questions and we'll teach you everything you need to know about credit. Here are some examples:
- What are the best ways to improve your credit? Can adding a small personal loan help improve your credit? Believe it or not, there are plenty of solutions to increasing your credit score.
- Can you get an accurate credit report? There are plenty of ways to get an accurate credit report that can save you up to $200 a month. You don't have to break the bank to get quality credit reporting services.
- How important is it to monitor your credit? Monitoring your credit regularly can benefit you in a variety of ways and help you make sure that your finances are safe.
- What are some myths and misconceptions about building your credit? You may have some of the wrong information about how to build your credit, due to some faulty information. Luckily, we provide an antidote to the bevy of bad credit reporting.
- Is applying for joint credit a good idea for you and your partner? Joint credit can be a good idea for couples who know how to save and spend, but there are many things that can go wrong if you're both not on the same page.
- How can you cleanup your bad credit and fix errors on your report? Are there quick, effective ways to fix your credit? What rights do you have when it comes to knowing what's on your credit report?
Best Credit Report Site Recap
Review these five companies once more before enrolling with one over the other. They all have their advantages and disadvantages-some more significant than others. Opt for one that provides your credit score from the three main credit bureaus, has an affordable monthly rate, and includes extras like identity theft protection and monitoring. Remember you are also eligible to receive an annual credit report and credit score from all three of the major bureaus.
If you've looked up your score and you are struggling with bad credit, take a look at the best credit repair services. They might be able to help you, especially if you are trying to qualify for a loan.
Many lenders highly weight credit scores; however, the best personal loan companies have created application processes that look at more than just your credit.
Best Credit Report Site FAQs
Who can help me improve my credit?
If your FICO score is less than stellar, don't worry. You can do specific things to gradually improve it. Besides the credit bureaus and the Federal Trade Commission, here's whom you can contact:
- Your state's Department of Financial Services, especially to check if a lender or another financial institution is in positive status
- Your local Better Business Bureau (BBB) branch
- Nonprofits that your BBB branch would recommend
- A financial planner
- An attorney proficient in debt management
You also can barnstorm online resources, especially the U.S. Government's Answers.USA.gov site, a comprehensive database that covers everything from credit score improvement to debt management and financial planning.
How do I get online credit?
Regardless of your credit score, you can apply for a loan online. Web-based lenders have been expanding lately, taking advantage of several opportunities that e-commerce and globalization have introduced into the modern economy.
The criteria for obtaining credit online are not different from what your local bank would mandate. These criteria touch on things like your income, debts, assets, and employment history. Assets can be cash and tax refunds or long-term resources like equipment or your mortgage-free home.
Contact a reputable web-based bank to learn more about online credit requirements and to figure out terms and conditions. Beware of online scams or shell banks that offer unreasonably low-interest rates. A good rule of thumb to distinguish a reputable online bank from a fake one is to verify the bank address, inquire with your state's Department of Financial Services, and check whether the institution is registered with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
The bottom line is that the bank needs to abide by regulatory requirements and have a physical address even its products and services primarily are sold via the Web. You would agree with me that the institution's personnel need a place to work and socialize with colleagues – and that wouldn't be in the virtual world.
What is the fair credit reporting act?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates how companies collect and circulate your credit information, as well as who accesses your credit file. Congress passed the law in 1970 to ensure the privacy and integrity of people's credit files. Currently, three institutions are divvying up the lion's share of the credit collection and archiving market: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. The way it works, your lenders send information to the credit bureaus every month, and the bureaus aggregate your information and use proprietary tools to evaluate your creditworthiness and come up with your credit score.
How long does negative information stay on my credit report?
Depending on the nature of the information, negative statements may remain on your credit report anywhere from 7 to 10 years.
Late payments-7 years
Chapter 7 bankruptcies-10 years
Chapter 13 bankruptcies-7 years
Public records typically remain on your credit report for 7 years but unpaid tax liens have the potential to remain on them indefinitely. Depending on the length of time these factors have been reported on your credit report, your FICO score may vary. For example, a late payment that has been reported for 6 years will be less significant than a collection that's 4 months old.
What information shows up on my credit report?
In over 90% of lending decisions, your FICO score is held as the standard scoring model. The FICO score was created by Fair, Isaac and CO, and is calculated using the following categories:
- Credit established (10%): the number and types of accounts
- Recent inquiries/ newly opened accounts (10%)
- Length of credit (15%): Time length of account activity since being opened
- Amount of credit debt (30%): Dollar amount owed on accounts
- Past payment history (35%): Includes late payments, wage attachments, past dues
Your FICO number should fall somewhere between 300 and 850. The lower the score, the "riskier" you are considered so if your score is around the 300's you'll be deemed a bad credit risk. Other information that shows up in your credit report is your date of birth, Social Security number, address, employment information, pub records from state/county courts, and any bankruptcies, wage attachments, liens, and foreclosures.
How is my credit score calculated?
There are several factors that go into a FICO credit score's calculations. Although, the exact calculations and algorithms that determine your credit score are not revealed, we do know the factors that contribute to a score and how they are generally weighted. There are five major contributors to your credit score; in order from most to least they are:
- Your payment history or your history of paying your bills. Do you pay your credit cards on time? Have you missed monthly loan payments?
- The amount you owe at a certain time. Credit reports like to see a small balance on a credit card that is paid faithfully. This shows you are responsible for paying your bills and you aren't avoiding credit use entirely.
- Your credit history's length. The longer you maintain good credit the better. On the other hand, if you have a long, rough credit history someone with a short, good credit history may have a better score.
- The different types of credit you have used. You don't need to use every type of credit but if you use a few different ones responsibly this will contribute to a good score.
- New credit. Opening new accounts will have a small impact on your score. One isn't normally a problem but many new accounts in a short about of time can be bad for your score.
How do I build good credit?
Whether you are just starting to establish a credit history or if you are trying to rebuild your credit, knowing what practices will improve your credit history is important. Here are a few basic pointers to use when you trying to build good credit:
- First of all, the most basic way to build good credit is to pay your bills on time. Don't let large balances pile up and accumulate fees. Not only is that a good way to hurt your credit score, it can lead to some pretty serious debt.
- Use credit. The whole point of a credit score is so that banks and lenders can see that you are responsible and you are capable of paying back debts. If you rarely use credit, lenders will have no idea if they can trust you so credit reports won't give you a good score.
- Don't pay the minimum balance but don't pay in full either. Paying the minimum balance on a credit card will take a long time to pay off and will cause you to pay a lot in fees. Conversely, paying them in full each month is a good way to avoid debt but if you want to build good credit you may not want to do that. Credit reports like to see small balances that are paid responsibly. Paying the statement balance each month is a good way to show that you are using credit without incurring fees or interest.
What are the three credit bureaus and how do they differ from one another?
The three credit bureaus are Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Two decades ago there was an abundance of these smaller credit bureaus, however, the aforementioned companies dominated the industry by seizing these smaller firms. As a result, consumers have access to national coverage in relation to their credit reporting. The three companies do not share the information with each other because they are essentially in competition. What's more, many lenders will only report to one or two of the credit bureaus rather than all three. For that reason, your credit information may vary slightly across the board. An important point to keep in mind is that when you apply for a credit card or auto loan, the lender will pull one of the three credit reports to determine your eligibility. When they do this, an "inquiry" will show up on the report. Hard inquiries like this may negatively impact your FICO score. In all, inquiries account for about 10% of your total FICO score. Mortgage applications are a bit of an exception because brokers typically pull all three of the credit agency reports.
How important are instantaneous financial alerts as compared to just checking my online account periodically?
Receiving financial alerts are valuable for a multitude of reasons, including becoming aware of fraudulent charges before they cause irreparable damage to your credit.
What is the easiest way to improve a poor credit score that's the result of fraudulent activity?
Online tools give you the ability to dispute your credit score online as opposed to by phone. In certain instances, this feature can expedite the claims process.
Why is an easy-to-read score summary in my online dashboard so valuable?
The ability to quickly check your credit score would allow you to bypass a hard inquiry if you could determine that you wouldn't be approved beforehand. Plus, the ease and convenience saves you time in the long run.
What should I take into consideration when choosing different membership levels for each credit report service?
Although it will vary from service to service, each membership level will have its share of pros and cons. It's your responsibility to decide what you do and don't need for your particular financial situation.
How important is it to receive consistent reports from all three bureaus, taking into consideration that not all credit report services offer this?
Up-to-date reports from all three bureaus allow you to know exactly where you stand in terms of your credit. This comes in handy especially when you're taking out a line of credit and what to know in advance whether you'll be approved.
Will I end up being charged extra money once I've signed up with a company to see my credit reports?
Always read the fine print because some credit report services charge additional fees for certain pieces of information.
Will I be able to see an improvement in my credit reports once I've signed up for a service to help me control my finances?
Not necessarily. However, certain services also provide you with educational resources and information which can help you better manage your finances-resulting in improvements to your credit score.
Are there any important features related to credit reports that I should be aware of when comparing services across the board?
Some credit report services do offer a greater level of identity theft protection compared to competitors, which could be invaluable if you're trying to repair your credit score.
Do I need to sign up for a credit report service even if I am young and do not necessarily have a bad credit score?
The ideal time to sign up with a credit report service is when you have a great score, but you can usually get away with using a less comprehensive plan since you won't require as many features as someone with bad credit.
Does it matter how popular the credit report service is compared to the rest of the competitors in the market?
The companies with the biggest names are usually popular for a reason, but it still pays to check around because newer companies might be adequate for the services you need.