How to Get a Free Credit Report Without a Credit Card

How to Get a Free Credit Report Without a Credit Card
••• GoldStock/iStock/Getty Images

By law, the three major credit bureaus (also known as agencies or CRAs) in the United States must provide every resident with a copy of their credit report on­ce a year, entirely free of charge. You’ll have to give some personal information to prove you are who you say you are, but there’s no need to register a credit card. Keep in mind that knowing your credit history puts you in a better place when applying for credit.

Free Reports From One Website

In the U.S., three national consumer reporting agencies – Experian®, Equifax® and TransUnion® – create and hold your credit reports. They gather data regarding your bill payments, credit cards, loans, foreclosures and court judgments, put this into a report and calculate a score for you based on this information.

By a law called the Fair Credit Reporting Act, every resident is entitled to receive one free copy of their credit report annually from each of the reporting agencies. You can order your reports by visiting each agency’s website, but an easier way is to simply visit AnnualCreditReport.com. Here you can order your free report from one or all three agencies at once. It’s a good idea to order all three reports since each agency uses slightly different information when creating your report.

To view your report online, simply answer the security questions, and your on-screen reports should pop right up. Alternatively, call 1-877-322-8228 and order a paper copy of your report(s), which should be mailed to you within 15 days.

More Free Credit Report Options

Besides your free annual report, all three reporting agencies offer you the opportunity to open an account for free and without a credit card. Opening an account comes with various benefits, depending on which agency you sign up with. Experian, for instance, will let you see your report and credit score online every time you log in.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, all three agencies have committed to offering free credit reports weekly through April 2021. You can get your free reports at AnnualCreditReport.com or directly from Experian, TransUnion or Equifax. This measure has been put in place to help people manage their credit and combat identity theft.

Some people are legally permitted to order additional free copies of their credit reports – in addition to the free annual report – in special circumstances, which include:

  • When someone has denied you credit in the last 60 days based on the data in your credit report.
  • If you think you have been the victim of fraud or identity theft.
  • If you’re unemployed or receive public welfare assistance.
  • If you live in a state that offers free or reduced-price credit reporting.

Credit Score Apps and Downloads

For smartphone users, there are a number of mobile apps that are designed to help you stay on top of your financial health. Perhaps the best-known app, Credit Karma, gets reports from the Equifax and TransUnion credit bureaus (not Experian) and is entirely free to download. Experian has its own app for Android and iOS, which is helpful if you wish to round out the reporting. Credit Sesame gets reports solely from TransUnion but comes with a My Borrowing Power feature that predicts how much credit you may be approved for based on your current credit score.

Checking your own credit score is classified as a “soft pull inquiry,” so you can rest assured that using these apps will not negatively affect your credit score. For even greater control, use in conjunction with a savings app to help you attain your financial goals a little more effortlessly.