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4 Ways to Get Your Credit Score for FREE

Credit cards and mortgages are a hot topic in the personal finance world.  Since both are essentially loans, credit issuers and lenders need some kind of assurance that you can repay the loan.  In verifying your ability to repay the loan, lenders generally look at a few criteria: your current income; your current debt; and, your history of repaying debt.

While your current income and debt are easy to quantify, how do lenders quantify your credit history?  You may already know this, but when you sign up for a credit card or a loan of any type, this activity is recorded in a database and aggregated into a credit report.  A credit report will track the lender name, the balance on the account, the status and history of the account (if you’ve paid on time, or missed payments etc).  The credit information is put together and a credit score is assigned through an algorithm created by Equifax and/or Transunion – the two main credit reporting agencies in Canada.

To give you an idea, here is the range that your credit score can fall:

  • 0-560: Poor
  • 560-660: Fair
  • 660-725: Good
  • 725-760: Very Good
  • 760 – 900: Excellent

The higher your credit score, the more favorably a lender will view your application.  The issue is that while obtaining your credit report is free (by calling Equifax @ 1-800-465-7166 ), obtaining your credit score has a fee associated with it.  That is, up until now.

Get Free Credit Scores Online

This year, a number of online Canadian companies have started offering free credit scores.  They offer this service as a way to generate more sign ups to their website, and obtaining your personal information (no SIN required).  I’m not a big fan of giving away personal info, but i’m fairly comfortable in this case as a SIN number is not required.  Generally all you need is your name, birthday, address, and the ability to answer some multiple choice credit report questions.  It’s also important to note that checking your credit score on multiple sites will not impact your credit score.

Here are the four companies (and the credit agency that they use) that I have come across that offer free credit scores for Canadians:

  1. Borrowell – Equifax (quarterly updates);
  2. Credit Karma – Transunion (weekly updates – bonus: fairly detailed report with a chart tracking over time);
  3. RateHub.ca – Equifax (monthly updates); and,
  4. Mogo – Equifax (monthly updates).

I have accounts with all but Mogo.  As of today, they don’t seem to be available in Newfoundland.  They all basically do the same thing and provide a credit score. I found that Credit Karma offers a little more value in that: first, you get a access to Transunion; second, they give you weekly updates (rather than monthly or quarterly); and third, the level of detail that they give you.

Why am I Interested in my Score?

So being mortgage free and no expected loans coming up, why am I all of the sudden interested in my credit score? I recently realized that most of our credit cards over the past ten years have been under my name with my wife as a secondary card holder (no credit check).  Normally, this would be fine, but I wanted to make sure that my wife had credit worthiness to apply for loans/credit if need be (for example if I were to pass away suddenly).

With that, I created accounts with the websites above to test them out (except Mogo as explained earlier).  It turns out that she has a credit score that would fall into the “Excellent” range.  With the confidence of a strong credit score behind us, we decided to sign up for a credit card under her name.  The recent PC World Elite MasterCard promo was good timing as we shop at Loblaws, and the $100 Cineplex gift card bonus was enticing (she enjoys the movie theatre – see my SCENE points article) – so we signed up and have already received the card.

Improve your Credit Score

So what if your credit score isn’t the best?  There are a number of strategies that you can use such as (taken from my “how to improve your credit score article“):

Through a few quick and easy steps, you can keep your credit score at the top levels:

  • Always pay your bills on time with at least the min required payment.
  • Keep your amount borrowed less than 50% of your total credit available.
  • Avoid applying for multiple credit products within a short span of time.
  • If cancelling credit cards, avoid cancelling the ones with the longer track records.
  • If retaining a high credit score is top priority, then avoid loan consolidation. The reason being is that your total credit available will decrease while keeping the total borrowed the same.

Final Thoughts

The best thing about these free credit score websites is that you can track your credit score over time.  So if you apply for a new credit card, you can see how it impacts your score, and how it recovers over time.  My wife’s Transunion score dropped 10 points after applying for the PC World Elite card.  Take note though that you are giving away your information in exchange for the free credit scores, so be prepared to get emails from them promoting their credit products.

Have you signed up with these sites to get your credit score?  Are there any other sites available that do the same thing?

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FT About the author: FT is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Sid December 5, 2016, 4:07 pm

    I tried Borrowell and Ratehub and couldn’t be verified with the questions they asked about my loans/credit cards/banks. They were asking about loans with banks I’ve never dealt with, are those supposed to be trick questions or do they actually think I have those loans?

    I was able to get verified with Credit Karma and all my info looks correct.

    So do I need to call Equifax to make sure they have the correct info? Or if Transunion has the correct info can I assume Equifax does as well?

  • FT FrugalTrader December 5, 2016, 4:11 pm

    I found that some of the credit questions had the choice “none of the above” which was the correct answer. Did you have that option?

    • Sid December 5, 2016, 4:21 pm

      Yes, but that was only an option on some of the questions that had all the wrong info for each option.

  • JC December 5, 2016, 7:01 pm

    How accurate are these? In April I checked my credit score with an Equifax 30-day free trial and it was 830. Now RateHub (who use Equifax) says it’s 754. I’ve only opened up a Tangerine account in that time, and I always pay back my 2 credit cards in full each month, never missed a payment, etc. I know it’s not such a big deal here as it is in the US, but my credit score should be going up, not down!

  • JF December 5, 2016, 9:18 pm

    Credit Karma and Borrowell do not offer their services to Quebec residents. Did not try the others.

  • Brad December 6, 2016, 12:56 am

    Borrowell also has charting over time.

  • moneycorgi December 10, 2016, 5:21 pm

    good post

    Any idea if student loan debt is kept on your credit score? for some reason in the UK its not counted on it. So my debt shows as blank on mine despite being nowhere near having paid off my student loan.

  • David Marsden December 10, 2016, 11:49 pm

    Any suggestions on best way to structure purchase of rental condo without using cash. Equity in home 500k+ with no debts other than first mortgage. TD flex mtg???

    • Leo T. Ly December 23, 2016, 7:42 pm

      @David – When I purchased my investment property, I refinance my mortgage and use the proceed of the refinance to purchase my investment property. The reason that I refinance is because I wanted certainty for 5 years as I am using it to purchase an investment property. Secondly, when the rate is at 2.59%, I’ll lock it in anytime. Now the portion of my refinanced mortgage is tax deductible and the mortgage on my rental is also tax deductible. I don’t use a HELOC as the interest rate can go up when prime rates goes up. The rate on the HELOC is also more expensive (3.2%) than the refinance rate. Hope that helps.

      Happy holidays.

      – Leo

  • Jeff December 11, 2016, 3:30 pm

    Just thinking of the latest hacking scandals, how secure are these services? I am also a bit hesitant when it comes to using third party to check on my credit score since they will have all of my information.

  • Leo T. Ly December 23, 2016, 9:04 pm

    Thanks for sharing a great post FT. I signed up with RateHub.ca and Credit Karma to get my credit scores. I wanted to check both TransUnion and Equifax to see if there is any difference between the two scores. I like Credit Karma better as I get a report and a score, but RateHub.ca on provide a score. My TransUnion score is 8 points higher than my Equifax score. Does anyone notices a difference between these two scores?

  • Fernando Margueirat December 27, 2016, 12:01 am

    Thanks! This is gold. I knew and used Borrowell but Credit Karma seems to be a great option too.

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