Knowing how to get your credit reports and credit scores can be very confusing. There are just so many different options out there. First and foremost, there are a few key things to remember:
- You can get the free, annual credit reports you are entitled to by federal law at either http://www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228.
- If you have exhausted your free credit reports, you can get reports directly from the credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – for a small fee. Each of their website can be found by tacking on “.com” to the end of their company name.
- Overwhelmingly, the most common credit scores used by lenders are the FICO scores developed by the company of the same name. You can access your FICO score for a fee at http://www.myfico.com. Financial institutions often use separate FICO scores for each of the three credit bureaus, but currently the general public only has access to buy the Equifax and TransUnion FICO scores.
So what are these other credit scores you read about at the credit bureau websites? The credit bureaus have developed their own proprietary scoring models in an attempt to compete with FICO. You have the option of purchasing these at their respective websites.
The list is:
- Equifax – “Equifax Score” from each of the three bureaus available for purchase
- Experian – Both a “PLUS Score” and a “VantageScore” from each of the three bureaus available for purchase
- TransUnion – “VantageScore” from each of the three bureaus available for purchase
A couple key things to keep in mind in regard to scores:
- The Equifax, PLUS and VantageScore models are used by financial institutions much less frequently to make lending decisions than the FICO score.
- Equifax is the only credit bureau that gives you the option of buying a FICO score. However, you can only buy your Equifax FICO score.