How to Check My Credit Scores and Reports
Learn about the differences between your credit reports and credit scores as well as how to check and monitor them both
Monitoring your credit is important because it can help you stay on top of your financial health. But how exactly do you check your credit?
Keep reading to learn how credit reports and credit scores differ—and why it’s so important to monitor them both.
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Basics of Credit Reports and Scores
Your credit reports are statements of your credit history. And there are three major bureaus that compile credit reports: Equifax®, Experian® and TransUnion®. Each credit bureau compiles its own credit reports, so your credit reports may be slightly different from one another.
Your credit scores are based on the information in those credit reports. Generally speaking, the higher the score, the better. FICO® and VantageScore® provide some of the most commonly used scores. But keep in mind that you have many different credit scores that different lenders use.
As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) explains, “Your score can differ depending on which credit reporting agency provided the information, the scoring model, the type of loan product, and even the day when it was calculated.”
Where Can I Check My Credit Scores and Reports?
There are a number of places that might be able to show you your credit reports and scores. Just be aware that some of those places may charge you for the information.
But you can visit AnnualCreditReport.com to learn how to get free copies of your credit reports. And you can use a service like CreditWise from Capital One to get an idea about your credit scores—and more.
You can read more about both options below. There may also be options from other credit card issuers, credit bureaus, scoring services or credit counselors. Just remember that you may be charged to use them.
It’s also important to remember that decisions about loan applications or credit cards are ultimately up to each lender. And because there are multiple scores and reports out there, what you see in reports and scores you’re given might not be exactly the same as what lenders use to judge creditworthiness.
How to Check My Credit Without Hurting It
Some places may charge you to check or monitor your credit. But you don’t have to pay to use CreditWise. You can use it to access your TransUnion credit report and weekly VantageScore 3.0 credit score for free anytime—without negatively impacting your score.
You can even see the potential impacts of financial decisions on your credit score before you make them, with the CreditWise Simulator.
CreditWise is free and available to everyone—not just Capital One customers.
How to Get Free Copies of My Credit Reports
You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion—by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. It may help to collect personal information ahead of time—things like your Social Security number and previous addresses—so you can verify your identity. But the process is relatively simple.
What Do Lenders See on Your Credit Report?
What you see on your credit reports may be slightly different from the things lenders who are reviewing your credit might see. But generally, if a lender is reviewing your credit, they might see your:
- Personal information, such as your name, current address and previous addresses.
- Credit and loan accounts, including information about your payment history.
- Employment history.
- Public records, such as bankruptcies.
- Recent inquiries where you applied for other loans or credit cards.
Why Should I Check My Credit Report Regularly?
Your credit is important because many companies use it to predict future financial behaviors. So the better your credit, the better your chances of qualifying for things like credit cards, loans, mortgages and other credit products. And the better your rates and terms might be.
By monitoring your credit, you may be better prepared as you apply for loans. And it can give you an idea of areas where you can work to improve your credit.
We hope you found this helpful. Our content is not intended to provide legal, investment or financial advice or to indicate that a particular Capital One product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.
Capital One does not provide, endorse or guarantee any third-party product, service, information, or recommendation listed above. The third parties listed are solely responsible for their products and services, and all trademarks listed are the property of their respective owners.
Your CreditWise score is calculated using the TransUnion® VantageScore® 3.0 model, which is one of many credit scoring models. It may not be the same model your lender uses, but it can be one accurate measure of your credit health. The availability of the CreditWise tool depends on our ability to obtain your credit history from TransUnion. Some monitoring and alerts may not be available to you if the information you enter at enrollment does not match the information in your credit file at (or you do not have a file at) one or more consumer reporting agencies.
The CreditWise Simulator provides an estimate of your score change and does not guarantee how your score may change.