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Student’s Guide to Free Credit Reports


If you are a student, and you want a free credit report, the best choice is usually to get the free annual credit report as provided under Federal law.  Under law everyone can get their credit report free once a year from each of the 3 national credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax and Trans Union.  You can get them all at once or one at a time.  You can get them online on the Internet, order them by phone, or mail in your credit report application.

On the Internet, go to and follow the instructions to get your free annual credit report online.

By phone, call 1-877-322-8228 and follow the instructions.

Should you get your 3 reports all at once or stagger them throughout the year?

All at once is probably the easiest method especially if you want to compare the three reports side by side.  On the other hand if you get one credit report now, another credit report in 3-4 months, and the last one 3-4 months after that, you can view the progression that your credit takes over the course of a longer period.

Both ways work, but I prefer the all-at-once method so I can compare my credit reports side by side.  For me this makes it easier to spot inaccurate information that I may want to dispute.  Plus with all-at-once I can see the differences between the three credit reporting agencies.

Are scores necessary?

Credit scores are not part of your credit report, so you must pay extra to get your scores.  For me that defeats the purpose of the “free” part in getting your credit report.  So basically I recommend that you skip the scores and concentrate on reviewing just your credit report.  In any case credit scores change as your credit report changes, so as your credit report changes for the better, then your score should also improve.