The three truly free credit reporting sites are Quizzle, CreditKarma, CreditSesame, and WalletHub. There are many other credit reporting sites that say they provide a free credit report, but often you have to buy a credit monitoring service to get the “Free” credit report or you have to provide a credit card number….so what makes this free? Although Quizzle, CreditKarma, CreditSesame, and WalletHub do provide credit reports for free, they each have their own nuances and unique features that you will want to know about.
But before we get into the nuances of each service, it’s important to point out that the credit score you receive from free credit services is not based on the FICO scoring model. FICO, a proprietary credit scoring model developed by Fair Isaac Company in the 1980’s, is used by the majority of banks and lenders in the US and is the score provided by the three national credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. The credit score you receive from the free credit agency is based on models developed by that credit agency and is only similar to a FICO score. So, even though the scores from the free credit reporting services are not official FICO scores, they can help you monitor and improve your scores, if need be. If you need to see your credit scores exactly like lenders might, go to the official myFICO website.
Quizzle gives you a free credit report every six months along with a free credit score known as a VantageScore – a credit scoring process that was developed jointly by Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, and is widely used by lenders. There are differences in how the two models calculate scores. For instances, VantageScores use a score range from 501 to 990, compared to 300 to 850 used by FICO. VantageScores also require a much shorter credit history than FICO, making it more likely to generate a score for people with very little credit. In addition, VantageScores assign a hierarchy to late payments, where a late mortgage payment will hurt your score more than a late credit card payment. FICO treats all late payments the same. Because creditors may report different information to the three bureaus, FICO scores may be different between Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Quizzle also provides lots of “Credit Builder” tools such as a credit comparison, credit timeline, credit trending, and a score analysis that are very helpful in determining how certain activities might impact your scores. If you want to pay for their services, Quizzle offers packages with additional benefits beyond what you get for free. For example, the Quizzle Pro Plan provides you with a monthly credit report, credit score update, and 24/7 monitoring for less than $10 per month.
Credit Karma offers a free credit report and scores anytime, not just limited to one every 6 months, and you can also sign up for free automatic credit alerts, email alerts when important changes occur, and identity theft tracking and protection. Credit Karma offers several simulators and calculators on their website so you can manage your credit better. Credit Karma tracks your credit using information from two of the three credit reporting agencies, TransUnion and Equifax. However, Credit Karma does not provide your actual FICO scores rather the VantageScores.
Credit Sesame provides a single bureau credit score on a monthly basis and tools that can help you monitor your credit. You can also sign up for daily monitoring alerts that inform you of day-to-day changes to your score or credit profile. The credit score you get through Credit Sesame is called the "Experian National Equivalency Score" and is not commonly used by lenders, though it is available to them. Scores offered through this method vary from 360 to 840, compared to 300 to 850 for FICO scores. In addition to offering a free credit score, Credit Sesame also provides suggestions and advice that could help you improve your score over time.
WalletHub gives you a single credit score based on the TransUnion VantageScore. WalletHub updates the credit score and credit report daily and provides tailored advice about how to improve your score. They also provide tools to help you save money for future plans such as buying a house or car.
So which credit reporting site is right for you? You don’t have to pick just one. If you want all of the benefits that these services offer, and a representation of your credit score from the three credit bureaus, you can easily sign up for all three because there is no cost to you. The most important thing is to stay on top of your credit profile, which means checking your credit regularly or getting some type of credit monitoring service. Also, remember that the scores you see on these free sites are only approximations of what your lenders might see. Whether you use just one site or all three, they all provide crucial data to you. Since all three of these sites offer this important information for free, you have no excuse not to sign up for at least one of them.