By Anna Davies | American Express Credit Intel Freelance Contributor
4 Min Read | May 11, 2020 in Credit
Every American is entitled to one free annual credit report from each credit bureau.
Some credit knowledge services like MyCredit Guide also allow users to regularly view their credit report.
Reviewing your free credit report can help you report errors and see how your credit behavior is reported.
Your credit affects multiple aspects of your life, from housing to employment. That’s why it’s important to understand your credit score, as well as understand what’s on your credit report. When you have a handle on your credit report, you can take steps to fix any errors, strengthen your report, and potentially bolster your credit score in the future. But the first step is making the decision to access your credit report.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires, by law, the three nationwide credit reporting bureaus—Transunion, Equifax, Experian—to each make available a free of charge credit report to you every year.1 But even though you have a right to a free credit report, many online companies charge for information that includes access to your credit report. That’s why it’s key to make sure you use a provider that offers free credit reports without any fees attached.
MyCredit Guide gives you free access to your monthly TransUnion credit report, in addition to services that allow you to view your credit score, build credit report alerts to protect your credit accounts from fraud and identity theft, and see what you can do to improve your credit score.
Sometimes, companies that have a fee associated with credit report access offer additional services and benefits, such as credit monitoring. But your bank or credit card may also offer free credit reports, with the same services.
American Express offers a free monthly Transunion Credit Report through MyCredit Guide, even if you’re not an American Express customer. MyCredit Guide also features benefits such as a credit score simulator and credit report alerts to make credit monitoring simple. Finding a free option to request a credit report is a smart strategy.
Put simply, a credit report is one-way lenders assess your history as a borrower. Your credit report has several categories of information, which are reported to credit bureaus by lenders. Lenders may not necessarily report to all three companies, so there may be some discrepancies between the credit reports from the three credit bureaus. Your credit reports may also differ depending on when lenders file information to the bureaus.
Your credit report includes:
In short, your credit report is a snapshot of your financial history—and can be a way for a lender to assess how risky it would be to take you on as a borrower. A short credit history, a credit report with late payments or bankruptcy, or a lot of credit inquiries in a short time may be a red flag to lenders.
While a credit report is a tool to help assess your creditworthiness, it’s also a good idea to look at your credit report regularly. Here’s why it’s smart to check your credit report.
Regularly scanning your credit report is one way to ensure that no accounts have been opened with your personal information. To safeguard your identity even further, consider signing up for a credit monitoring service as well.
Sometimes, credit reports contain errors. This could be an erroneous name, address, or account information. If you do see an error on your credit report, you can submit an investigation request. The credit bureau will investigate, issue your results, and may update your credit report accordingly. Removal of errors can also immediately increase your credit score.
Your credit report, along with your credit score, may be used by landlords, lenders, and even employers in certain states. By regularly looking at your credit report, you can understand what loan and credit card offers will be made available to you.
If there is something that could be considered a black mark on your credit report—such as a bankruptcy filing or debt settlement—you can attach a 100-word explanation to your report that details the circumstances surrounding the incident.
Your credit report can be a valuable resource to see any financial habits you may have fallen into, letting you build a plan for the future. For example, if you have open credit lines across multiple cards, you may wish to make a debt consolidation plan to pay off high-interest debt. If you have a history of late payments, you may need to come up with a better budgeting strategy to ensure you can pay the bills on time.
MyCredit Guide, from American Express, offers a free monthly credit report from TransUnion. This is available to customers and non-customers of American Express. In addition, My Credit Guide features benefits such as:
At the end of the day, knowledge is power. Accessing your free credit report is a smart strategy for taking control of your financial story.