How You Can Obtain THREE Credit Reports


By now, most Americans are aware that they’re legally entitled to receive a free annual credit report. Yet the law allows for a free annual credit report from each of the three credit bureaus, which means you can get three free credit reports each year! You may be wondering, “Who needs three reports?” Yet it’s important to take a good look at reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion to make sure all the information is accurate and complete.



By law, creditors must subscribe to and present their information to one of the three bureaus, so your reports may not necessarily be the same. To gain approval for student loans, mortgage loans, personal loans, small business loans and auto loans, you will want to have the most accurate information listed.


Some people decide to order all three reports at the same time. This is recommended if you haven’t checked your credit report in years. With a 3-in-1 credit report, you’ll be able to go over all the details and ensure that your reports match up. Others want to space out their free credit reports. This is recommended if you are monitoring your credit for identity theft or working to improve your credit score. The best way to order your reports is online.


Video: How To Get Free Credit Reports

What’s the Cost of a Credit Report?


You should not pay a single dime for your credit report! While the law requires Experian, TransUnion and Equifax to provide you with one credit report each per year, there are a number of other services you may order as well. On some third party sites advertising “free credit reports,” you will be automatically signed up for a monitoring service or subscription, which you must cancel after the free trial expires.


What Offers Come with Credit Reports?


The most commonly purchased offer is one’s FICO credit score. Many people are surprised to find their exact number isn’t automatically provided with their free credit reports. Buying your credit report with a score costs about $15, although Experian lets you check your Vantage Score for $5.95.


Should You Buy the Extras?


credit reportsRight now Experian is offering to give you a free credit report and credit score if you enroll in a 7-day trial of their “Triple Advantage” plan. During the seven day period, you must cancel the service or you will be billed $14.95 per month. With Triple Advantage, you’ll get your credit report, your credit score and daily monitoring of all three credit bureaus, including email alerts with key changes. These extra services aren’t needed unless you’re super paranoid about someone jacking your identity. Experian also offers a 3-in-1 credit report for Experian, Equifax and TransUnion with unlimited access throughout the year for $39.95. However, you can get all your reports in one place by simply ordering them yourself.


The “Equifax Credit Watch” package offers a 3-in-1 report, unlimited Equifax reports and up to $20,000 in identity theft insurance for a free 30-day trial or $14.95/month. If you’re worried about identity theft, you may also want to try the “Equifax ID Patrol” package, which alerts you if your information is being used on internet trading sites, locks / unlocks your credit file based on your request, monitors all bureaus’ activities and provides up to $1 million in identity theft insurance. To monitor your credit for changes, you can pay $9.99/month for the “Equifax Credit Watch Gold” or “Score Watch,” which monitors your credit score for changes.


TransUnion offers three-bureau credit monitoring for $14.95/month (after a 30-day trial) or one-bureau credit monitoring for $11.95/month. You may also order a 3-in-1 credit report for $29.95. 


In most cases, you don’t need any of these extra services unless you suspect you’re a victim of identity theft. Even if you’re planning to buy a car or house this year, you can monitor your credit perfectly fine by spacing out your free copies of each credit bureau report. Credit monitoring services are designed for people who are extremely pressed for time who would rather have someone else keeping up on changes to the report.


Video: Comedian Paul Myrehaug Talks About Identity Theft


How Often to Obtain Credit Reports


At minimum, credit reports should be checked once a year for accuracy. Most financial professionals recommend spacing out your reports throughout the year. For instance, in January, you’d get your Experian report, in May you’d get your Equifax and in September you’d get your TransUnion. Once you’ve assembled all three, you can go over your files and see that they all match up. While it’s not as neat as gathering all the information side-by-side in one orderly report, it is free! Since the creditworthiness demonstrated on your credit report is the key to your purchasing power, it’s crucial that you see where you stand and work towards improving your situation.