Instead of paying for monthly credit monitoring, why not do it yourself? Normally, the three credit bureaus…Equifax, Experianand Trans Union— only offer one free credit report per year, but due to the pandemic, these same reports are available for free every week until April 2022.
Where to get your free reports
Head to annualcreditreport.com, because it’s the only place you can get all three credit reports for free (they were $10 each after the first free report). Alternatively, you can also apply by calling (877) 322-8228, or submitting an application form by mayI.
If you already check your credit through a free portal like CreditKarma, CreditSesame, or Wallethub, there are also a few differences to keep in mind.
First, a credit report straight from the actual office will contain more detailed information about your payment history, names you’ve used and previous addresses where you’ve lived, details that make it easier to spot identity theft. . Second, most free credit reports offer VantageScore credit scores, despite the fact that your bank or credit card is much more likely to rely on FICO credit scores. Third, these “free” services often require registration, which results in being inundated with spam.
Of course, these free credit report services also offer premium credit monitoring subscription packages. Subscriptions can provide more detailed information for all three desktops (but not always), as well as some additional security protection features (like dark web analytics and change of address alerts), but they will also cost you $10-40 per month.
Save money with do-it-yourself credit monitoring
Instead of paying all that money, consider saving money by using annualcreditreport.com through April 2022. These credit reports will have everything you need to spot errors and identify theft, especially more than you will have reports of the three offices. The only catch is that while these reports will contain comprehensive information about your credit history, they won’t have your actual credit score– but it’s usually easy to get for free through your bank, credit union, or credit card provider.
This story was originally published in 2020 and updated May 11, 2021 to reflect the expansion of free credit reports and to provide new information.