Contrary to popular belief, there is no free credit score provided by the government via its AnnualCreditReport.com website. Let us repeat: Despite the many misconceptions out there, the government does not provide a free credit score in any shape or form. If they were to do so, credit reporting companies would be out of business.
This website only provides free credit reports from the top three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You may order one report, two reports, or all three concurrently, up to once per year.
Some people recommend that you stagger your retrieval of the credit reports for more effective credit monitoring by ordering one every four months. For example, you could order just your Experian credit report, then order your Equifax credit report four months later, followed by your TransUnion four months after that.
This can be an effective way to stay on top of your credit history, though it should be noted that the credit bureaus may report differently, so you could also make the argument to order all three reports concurrently to compare and contrast.
Note that when you order a free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com, you will be offered the opportunity to purchase your credit score from the credit reporting agencies. The charge is typically around $10, but you don’t need to go this route. This certainly isn’t the most cost effective way of getting your credit score.
Where do you get a free credit score?
You may be asking yourself, if the government doesn’t provide a free credit score, who does? Well, it depends what your definition of “free” is. There’s no free lunch right? Right. If you want a free credit score, you can order one from the credit reporting bureaus’ websites or via an independent service.
To avoid being charged, you must cancel during the trial period, so be sure not to forget that. It is opt-out, not opt-in program, so if you fail to cancel, you’ll be charged on a recurring basis. This is why these services also require your credit card upon sign-up.
Don’t fret though – it’s pretty easy to sign-up for a free credit score and subsequently cancel. And because you need a credit card to receive your credit score, you can always call your credit card issuer if the service provider gives you any flack about canceling.