How to check your credit reports for free
There are two credit bureaus in Canada, Equifax and TransUnion. You are entitled to one free credit report from each bureau annually and you can obtain those full reports from them by mail. If you want to check online for free, you can use the free services of Borrowell and Credit Karma to see an excerpt from your credit report as often as you want. You will need to sign up for an account with them. They will offer insight in to why your credit score is low and what you can do to improve it. They also offer credit monitoring services for a fee and they will suggest credit products you may want for which they no doubt receive a referral fee. Stick to the free access to your credit information and free tips … you don’t have to buy anything!
Borrowell provides an excerpt from your Equifax record.
Credit Karma provides an excerpt from your TransUnion record.
You should check both Equifax and TransUnion because not all creditors report to both bureaus. There could also be an error on one report and not the other. Some banks are also now offering their customers a free look at their credit report. This is good, just find out which credit bureau they are drawing from and make sure you check the other bureau as well.
You may hear that checking your credit will hurt your score. This is true when you apply for credit and give a potential lender or credit card company permission to check your score. If you are applying for say a car loan, pick one lender to try. Do not apply to several lenders at once or let a car dealer do this trying to shop for an approval as this will hurt your score and may result in you being denied credit. This is not true when you are checking your credit report yourself either directly with the bureau or through a service. You can check your own record as often as you want as you are only creating a “soft” hit which does not get factored in to your score.
It can be fun to watch your score, but don’t get too focused on it. Check monthly, not daily!