Maintaining a high credit score has become more important than ever. From getting the best rates on mortgages, car loans, and credit cards, to qualifying for the best car insurance rates, your credit score has a big impact on your finances. Two of the more popular websites that give you access to your credit history and score are CreditReport.com and FreeCreditScore.com. While there are plenty of other credit reporting websites out there, CreditReport and FreeCreditScore are two of the most well known and well advertised options, and I’m interested in which one stands out over the other.
First, lets talk about FreeCreditScore.com, the most annoying and at the same time brilliantly advertised credit reporting site in the market today. Owned and operated by a subsidiary of Experian, FreeCreditScore.com has been the focus of a number of consumer investigations as many said FreeCreditScore.com purports themselves as offering free credit reports, when in fact they do not. The Credit Card Act of 2009 has actually now forced FCR to add the statement “This is not the free credit report provided for by Federal law” to all of its commercials. So what do you get when you sign up with these guys?
Once you provide the standard credit report information (Name, address, SS#, etc.) you are asked to sign-up for their 7-day free-trial, which automatically enrolls you into Triple Advantage, Experian’s credit monitoring service. If you fail to cancel your membership within the 7 day free-trial period, you are billed $14.95 per month. After giving up your credit card information, you are charged a total of $0.00 and if you think you are outsmarting FreeCreditScore.com by entering a credit card with no available balance, think again. Even though there is no initial charge, if your card has no credit available, it will be rejected.
After confirming your identity, you’re in! Immediately, up-sells hit you from the left, and then from the right so make sure you pay attention to the clicks of the mouse you make, as one wrong click can charge your credit card up to $25.00 for one of their services. After dodging a few bullets, you finally make your way to the credit report section, where you are given your Experian credit score and report and ONLY your Experian credit score and report.
As you can see, your homepage shows you what your current credit score is, the last inquiry placed in your credit report and just below that, you are given a nice pie graph on what your current credit to debt ratio is on all revolving accounts. Man, would I not want to be this guy! (It’s not so bad actually).
When you navigate through the rest of the interface, you can view your actual Experian credit report, detailing all of your current and closed accounts as well as all of the inquiries that have hit your report in the last two years. There are a few cool graphs and features and FreeCreditScore.com has an overall user friendly interface.
After looking through what FreeCreditScore.com had to offer, I’m eager to take a look at CreditReport.com’s available services. Once again, this free offer only includes your report and score from TransUnion, another one of the three main credit bureaus. Just like FCS, CreditReport.com allows you to tryout the service, risk-free for seven days. If you fail to cancel within the 7-day period, the credit card you entered will be charged a $14.95 monthly fee.
After you have successfully entered your personal information you are asked to fill out your credit card information. Again, make sure that there is at least $1 available because even though CreditReport.com will not charge anything to your account, you must have an available balance to move to the next step. Once my credit card is confirmed I am asked four questions about my identity. Finally, after answering all questions, I land on the homepage of my credit score and report.
Unlike FreeCreditScore.com, the interface and graphics available are a little dumbed down. (The above graphic is not my score this time!) You only have two available tabs to choose from, your credit score and credit report and there really aren’t any graphs, tables or other useful information to help you understand what is going on in your account. You are given a detailed look at every credit account you have, but CreditReport.com definitely lacks the flash and dash that FreeCreditScore.com has.
The cancellation process for both merchants is a little painful, as the time you spend on the phone declining their special “one-time” offers could be better used, but after 10 minutes, I was able to cancel both services. All-in-all if you are looking for a quick view of how your credit is holding up, they are both viable options. I would recommend FreeCreditScore.com a little ahead of CreditReport.com as it has more tools and options for the user. Unfortunately for both, they only provide a credit report and score from one bureau, but if you use them in conjunction, it will definitely give you a broader picture.