How much does a credit report cost?

Can I Get a Credit Report for Free?

“We need credit to do anything nowadays, to buy a phone, get PG&E, a car.”

Fredrika, a 33 year old mom living in East Oakland hits the nail on the head. From renting an apartment to getting a car loan or even applying for a job, credit is important in almost every part of your life.

If credit is really just not your thing, understanding how credit reports and credit scores work can be confusing and intimidating.

“I had to learn the hard way. I didn’t really have anyone to teach me about lines of credit, bank accounts, things going into collection[s], any of that type of stuff.”

One common question that comes up is “What does it cost to get a credit report?” Let’s get you up to speed on how to get and use your credit reports effectively.

How Much Does a Credit Report Cost: the Basics

Let’s clear up what a credit report actually is. A credit report, compiled and maintained by a credit reporting agency, is a comprehensive record of your overall credit history. It includes information like:

  • Personal identifying details (name, address, social security number)
  • Credit accounts (credit cards, loans, mortgages)
  • Payment history (whether you make payments on time)
  • Credit inquiries (who has requested a copy of your credit report)
  • Public records (bankruptcies, liens, judgments)

These reports are compiled by credit bureaus. The three major credit bureaus are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Why Your Report Credit Matters

Lenders, landlords, and employers alike will all use a credit report to see if you are “creditworthy,” aka if you can be trusted with a loan or lease.

Your credit report also directly influences your credit score, a number that represents your creditworthiness. The higher your credit score, the better your chances of qualifying for loans and getting favorable interest rates.

The Cost of Accessing a Credit Report

Now, let’s address the cost of accessing a credit report. Traditionally, credit reports were not freely accessible and getting one involved a fee.

However, under federal law, you and every other consumer in the United States can access one free credit report every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

What About Paying for Your Credit Report and Credit Score?

There are some reasons you might want to check your credit more often than the one time a year you get for free. If you know your credit has recently taken a hit, checking in on your score often is an easy way to see how far you’ve come, and how far you still need to go.

There are certain credit monitoring tools out there to help you keep tabs on your credit score and credit report, like free weekly credit reports. A credit monitoring service is an important tool to take advantage of in between free annual credit reports.

Kikoff is the #1 way to build credit safely, quickly, and easily. Designed to be affordable and accessible, Kikoff can help you grow your credit – starting at just $5 a month.

“You can pay Kikoff a few dollars a month to build your credit. It’s for our future. It’s for our kids’ futures.”

Looking at your score six or more months before you make a major purchase can help you know that you’ll get the best available interest rates on car loans or mortgages.

Understanding Free Credit Reports

The only authorized website, according to federal law, where you can check your free credit report is AnnualCreditReport.com.

In addition to free credit reports, you can also look at your free credit score through certain services. The bottomline is that monitoring both your credit report and credit score are important when managing finances effectively and protecting against identity theft.

How to Obtain Your Free Credit Reports

To obtain your free credit reports, follow these steps:

  1. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com: This official website allows you to request your credit reports online.
  2. Provide Your Information: Enter your personal details, including your name, address, social security number, and date of birth.
  3. Choose Your Reports: Select which credit reports you’d like to access. You can choose from Equifax, Experian, and specifically, you can also request a free TransUnion credit report, which is an example of one of the reports available without charge.
  4. Verify Your Identity: Answer security questions to confirm your identity.
  5. Review Your Credit Reports: Once you confirm your identity, you can view and download your credit reports instantly.

The Value of Regularly Checking Your Credit Reports

The major credit bureaus provide these reports, and it’s crucial to regularly check your reports from the three major credit bureaus to ensure accuracy and detect fraudulent activity. Credit monitoring is important for several reasons:

  • Spotting Errors: Reviewing your credit report helps you identify errors or inaccuracies that could hurt your credit score.
  • Detecting Fraudulent Activity: Monitoring your credit reports can alert you to unauthorized purchases or identity theft.
  • Tracking Your Progress: By regularly checking your credit reports, you can monitor your credit-building efforts. Credit monitoring reports from Kikoff can help you stay on track to grow your credit and see how much progress you’ve made to date on your credit journey.

The best way to stay safe and prevent identity theft in the future is to take action. The latest product from Kikoff, Keenly, helps you do this by removing your data from data brokers, flagging whenever your information is part of a data breach, blocking spam calls and texts, and monitoring your credit.

Understanding Credit Scores

“Kikoff helped me build my credit, but they also helped me understand credit.”

In addition to accessing your credit reports, understanding your credit scores is crucial. While your credit report provides detailed information, your credit score takes all that info and turns it into a number. Credit scores typically range from 300 to 850, with higher scores indicating better creditworthiness. There are two main types, a FICO score and a VantageScore.

Conclusion: Knowledge is Power

Accessing your credit report and credit information is often free, or costs a minimal amount of money. If you have low or no credit, getting a free report is a great first step to financial confidence and improving your creditworthiness. The more you can learn, the better.

In addition to getting free reports, there are many low-cost paid services that can help you take charge of your financial future, especially if you want to build credit. A Credit Account from Kikoff is designed to address the 3 key factors of your credit score: payment history, credit utilization, and age of accounts.

With a Credit Account, Kikoff helps you

  • Build monthly payment history that is reported to Equifax and Experian
  • Reduce your credit utilization
  • Raise your age of accounts

Getting your free credit report and checking your credit score regularly go hand in hand. Whatever your next goal is, we want to give you the knowledge and tools to achieve it!  

“Kikoff will always be a great stepping stone for me. I say stepping stone because it’s not the end of all for me…they are just there to help you transition into the greatness that you have the potential to be.”