Getting your credit scores for free is not hard anymore. In fact, you can get your TransUnion or Equifax credit score through many banks, the credit bureaus themselves, or new financial technology (fintech) companies including Compare Hub.
Below we explain the simple process of getting your credit score for free in Canada. We also its relationship to your credit report. Most importantly, we explain why you should check your credit score as often as you pay your credit card statement (hint: they are related).
Why Should You Check Your Credit Scores?
- To Access Credit – Your credit scores will generally impact your ability to qualify for different credit products such as a personal loan, a mortgage or a car loan. Moreover, your credit scores can impact your ability to access lower rates.
- To Prevent Potential Issues – Even if you’re not planning on making any important investments or purchases, checking your credit report and scores at least once a year – but maybe even once a month – will help eliminate any potential issues in the future such as identity fraud.
- To See If It Needs Improvement – If you notice your credit scores are dropping, you can investigate it to see what’s affecting it. Maintaining a good credit score is not only essential for accessing credit but for renting, purchasing insurance and even getting a job.
What Are Credit Scores?
A credit score is a three-digit number between 300 to 900 that represents your likelihood to pay your bills on time. Lender and creditors your credit scores as one way to assess your risk as a borrower.
While there are numerous credit scoring models, there are generally five main factors that are used to calculate credit scores. Moreover, each factor is weighted differently and varies by credit score model. Here is a general breakdown of how credit scores are calculated:
- History Of Payments (~35%): Many credit scoring models will look at your payment history, this includes your on-time payments, late/missed payments and payment amounts. Another aspect that may be looked at is the ratio between the number of delinquencies you have versus the number of accounts (also known as tradelines) on file.
- Credit Utilization Ratio (~30%) – The amount of credit you’ve used versus how much you have available on your credit cards and other revolving lines of credit tends to be a big factor. Typically, it’s recommended that you keep your credit utilization ratio low.
- Credit Length (~15%) – Another factor that’s typically used to calculate your credit scores is your credit length. The age of your credit accounts allows lenders to see if you’re able to responsibly handle credit accounts over a long period of time.
- New Inquiries (~10%) – The number of hard inquiries on your credit is another factor that is used in many credit scoring models.
- Public Records (~10%) – Bankruptcy, collection issues, lawsuits and other derogatory public records on your credit report will usually be used when calculating credit scores.
What Is A Credit Report?
A credit report contains a summary of all your credit account information. This includes all your credit accounts, credit cards, credit limits, payment history and other pertinent information. This information will typically stay on your credit report for up to 6-7 years.
Credit card companies, lenders, and certain service providers will usually request access to your credit report to help them determine whether they should extend you the credit or service. Even landlords and employers may request access to your credit report before offering you the lease or job. They do this to make sure that you are responsible with your finances and will make your payments on time.
What Is A Credit Rating?
Each of your credit accounts is rated in two ways, with a number and with a letter.
- The Letter – The letter is simply descriptive, “R” for a revolving account (credit cards) and “I” for an installment account (a car loan).
- The Number – The number represents whether the account is in good standing or not. The scale for the number ranking is 0 to 9, 0 being an account that is too new to rate and 9 being bad debt.
How To Get Your Credit Scores For Free In Canada From The Credit Bureaus?
Canada has two credit bureaus: Transunion and Equifax. Both offer Canadians a way to access their credit scores for free.
Equifax offers all Canadians free access to their credit scores and credit reports. To access it, you simply need to create an account online. You’ll need to provide your name, email, address, date of birth, SIN (optional) and a few other details to access your credit report and score.
If you purchase Transunion’s credit monitoring service, you’ll gain access to your credit report and credit scores for free. If you don’t want to pay anything, you can opt for your Consumer Disclosure. It includes all your credit report information according to the consumer reporting legislation. This is a product Transunion offers Canadians for free once every month.
If you live in Quebec, you can also get your credit scores for free when you request a copy of your Consumer Disclosure by mail or in-person. This is due to a new law in Quebec called the Quebec Credit Assessment Agents Act (“CAAA” or “Act”).
How To Get Your Credit Scores For Free In Canada From Third-Party Providers?
The most common way to get your credit report and score has always been directly from Equifax and TransUnion. But, that is no longer the case. Over the last few years, a variety of third-party companies have changed the way Canadian consumers interact with their credit history, report, and scores. These companies partner with Equifax and TransUnion to provide their clients with access to their credit scores and sometimes report as well.
Checking your credit on a regular basis should be a financial goal for all consumers, and the following companies have made it significantly easier with their online platforms. Check out our top four choices for accessing your credit scores for free in Canada.
*certain conditions may apply
Mogo, a financial technology company, offers its clients a wide variety of technology-based financial products. This includes personal loans and MogoTrade a stock trading app. When you create an account with Mogo you’ll gain access to several credit management tools, including credit monitoring to help track the health of your credit as well as monitor for fraud. You’ll also be able to get your Mogo credit score which is calculated using the information from your Equifax credit report.
Borrowell is a financial services company that offers personal loans, credit cards, mortgages, credit building services, insurance, etc. to its over one million users. It offers its clients a wide variety of services and products to help them better manage their credit and achieve their financial goals. Several years ago, Borrowell partnered with Equifax. Borrowell now offers its users not only their credit scores for free but also access to their credit report and advice from their AI-powered credit coach, Molly.
With Credit Karma, you’ll have access to both your credit report and scores for free. One of the most interesting features that Credit Karma offers is the ability to check your credit scores from both Equifax and TransUnion. Credit Karma also offers tools to help manage your credit, including a credit score simulation tool so you can see how specific actions may affect your score.
Our final option is an honourable mention, as it is not a free service. But for those consumers who are serious about improving their credit scores, the variety of tools and services that Credit Verify offers makes their monthly fee well worth it.
Credit Verify has partnered with TransUnion to provide Canadians with access to both their credit report and scores. When you choose Credit Verify, you will also have access to their credit monitoring service. This extra service helps protect you from credit and identity fraud. In addition, users will also be able to access the Credit Verify score simulator tool. This tool provides insight into how certain credit actions (ex: taking out a loan) may affect your credit scores. Users are required to create an account through the Credit Verify site and pay a monthly fee of $19.95. But, you can test out their services for seven days for a fee of $1.
Can You Get Your Credit Scores For Free From Banks?
Certain banks and credit unions have also been partnering up with the credit bureaus and third-party services to offer Canadians a way to check their credit scores for free. Some banks that allow you to check your credit scores for free are BMO, CIBC and RBC.
How To Get Your Credit Report From The Two Credit Bureaus
In Canada, you are entitled to a copy of your credit report from both credit bureaus once a year. Here are the two ways you can get your free credit report:
- Equifax number is 1-800-465-7166
- TransUnion number is 1-800-663-9980 or 1-877-713-3393 for those living in Quebec
If you decide to call one of the credit bureaus to get your credit score you’ll need to have your social insurance number and credit card with you. The system should be automated and will explain all the steps you need to take. At one point the system will try to get you to pay for your credit score, if you don’t want to pay for it then simply choose no. It should take no longer than a week to arrive at your home.
These are the forms you will need to print out, fill out and mail in. You will also need to photocopy the front and back of two pieces of acceptable identification. Then all you have to do is mail in the form and the photocopy of your identification. The address is on the form you have to fill out.
Once you’ve received your free credit report in the mail you should make sure that there are no errors in your report. Make sure that all the accounts listed are ones that you know of, if there is any false information it could be negatively affecting your credit score which in return could be preventing you from getting a loan you need. If there is any incorrect information you’ll need to contact the credit bureau as soon as possible and fix the issue.
FAQs On Free Credit Scores
How often do the credit bureaus update credit scores?
Will checking my credit scores affect it?
What is a good credit score?
Why is my Transunion credit score different from Equifax?
Due to new laws and different credit score providers entering the market, getting your credit scores for free is easy. Equifax currently offers all Canadians access to their credit scores and credit report for free, while Transunion offers their Consumer Disclosure for free. Be sure to take advantage of these free providers as checking your credit score is an important part of your financial life.