Credit scores are important not only for lenders to determine the risk level of a borrower, but for those who wish to evaluate their own financial habits. Anyone who wishes to improve their financial responsibility will do well by gleaning relevant information off of a credit report. However, it isn't always free to acquire your credit report. Everyone is entitled to a free credit report annually though, so how does one find their credit report for free? There are a number of ways to do it, and you may receive reports based on differing scoring models, but the end result is a better understanding of your borrowing habits.
Here are several of the ways a credit report can be acquired for free:
1. The FICO Open Access program
FICO recently announced its Open Access program, which provides people who use specific credit cards - such as Discover and Barclaycard - with free access to their FICO credit scores through their card company, according to Credit.com. The frequency with which one can view their scores differs depending on their card. Some allow scores to be viewed monthly, and others quarterly.
Other companies, such as Capital One, provide similar credit tracking services. The FICO Open Access program will also soon extend to student loan borrowers who borrowed through Sallie Mae.
2. A Rejection
Not the best option, but you still get free access to your credit report - a tool that can be utilized to prevent rejections in the future, Credit.com noted. If you are rejected, law requires that you receive an adverse action notice and the name of the credit bureau that provided your lender with a report. After this you have 60 days to access and review your credit score for free. Sometimes the adverse action notice will have your credit score listed on it.
3. Alternative Credit Scores
Some bureaus will provide your information for free. Alternative credit scores provided by bureaus such as PRBC aren't only free, they take into account factors that other major bureaus don't, which can help paint a better picture of you as a fiscally responsible borrower. PRBC takes into account regular payments such as rent, utilities, cable and cell phone bills, that other bureaus won't. If you have had trouble with larger payments, but are always consistent with smaller bills such as heating or subscriptions, a free alternative credit score may be perfect.