Your credit history, credit report, and credit score are some of the most important financial factors in your life if you ever plan to use credit. A negative mark on your credit report can dramatically raise interest rates on home mortgage loans, auto loans, and credit card rates that you qualify for.
Higher rates over 30 years on a home mortgage can mean thousands of dollars in interest payments over the life of the loan. Likewise if you purchase a car and have to accept a rate of 6% rather than the 0.99% offered, you will miss out on thousands in savings.
Not to mention the rates you could pay on a credit card if you don’t qualify for prime rates. How appetizing does 19.99% sound?
There are multiple ways to keep tabs on your credit, but many of them require you giving up your personal information or to pay a monthly fee for a service.
There’s one method mandated by the government that is 100% free.
Check Your Credit Report for Free
The only 100% guaranteed free option to check your credit report — your real, actual credit report — is through AnnualCreditReport.com.
AnnualCreditReport.com is a website that was created after a government mandate due in part to consumer confusion over “freecreditreport.com” which actually doesn’t give you a free credit report. (It tricks you to paying for a monthly subscription service by giving you one free report but capturing your credit card information, instead.)
How to Get Your Free Credit Report
1. Go to annualcreditreport.com
2. Select your state then click “Request Report”
3. Input your personal identifying information (you are giving this info to the credit bureaus that run the site, not a commercial entity, so that’s okay)
4. Go through the verifying questions
5. Get your free report and ignore all options to buy a credit score. The credit score that is sold to you isn’t a true FICO score and is mostly useless.
Note: You can get one free report from each of the three credit bureaus each year. When going through the options to view your reports, just select one report to view. If you select all three you won’t be able to check a free report for another 365 days. Pick one report now, one in four months, and the last one four months after that.