Do you know that you can obtain your credit score free of charge these days? Not too long ago – a year or so – you had to drop around $24 to either of TransUnion or Equifax to see your credit score. The financial landscape in Canada evolved significantly in 2016 and now, like our U.S. friends down to the South, we now have access to free credit scores in Canada.
Online loan lenders, Borrowell and Mogo offer this freebie and use it to attract potential clients to their lending service. To receive your credit score, you have to sign up on the lender’s website, after which they let you view your credit score. You do not have to use their loan service.
In the past, before applying for any major new credit, I paid to access my credit scores through Equifax. I did this partly out of curiosity and also to have an idea if the rate I was being offered was “competitive” given my credit score, or if I needed to shop around for a better deal.
I obtained my first free credit score via Borrowell in 2016. Thereafter, they sent me a couple of emails offering me loans at supposedly good interest rates. I assume that if you have good to excellent credit scores, they offer you loans at rates they hope can lure you into patronizing their lending business.
There is no obligation for you to take a loan however, as I still get quarterly updates of my credit score and I haven’t taken any loans (and don’t intend to ever do so!). So far I have not had any issues with them sending multiple emails or spamming me. If they start to do that, my normal protocol is to simply “unsubscribe”.
More recently, I heard that Ratehub has also started offering free credit scores to Canadians. So, there are many options to choose from. Note that checking your credit score using any of these portals is referred to as a “soft inquiry” and does not affect your credit score or report negatively.
Related: 10 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score
Free Credit Reports
Credit reports are different from credit scores. While the credit score is a 3 digit number summarizing your creditworthiness, your credit report shows your credit history i.e. credit accounts you have opened, payment history, issues with your account, if any, etc.
Credit reports are also available free of charge in Canada. You are entitled to one free credit report from each of the credit bureaus annually.
To request your free credit report, visit the websites for the credit bureaus, download and complete their credit report request form and mail it in. TransUnion also allows online access to view and download the report. From my experience using TransUnion’s online portal, you can access your report in less than 5 minutes after answering a few questions to verify your identity. Additionally, for Equifax, you can request your report via phone at 1-800-465-7166.
It is good financial management to look at your credit report (from both agencies) once a year. Check for errors or any signs of identity theft. If you notice any discrepancies, contact the credit bureaus for explanation or correction. You can also obtain your free credit scores once in a while if you would like to track improvements in your credit profile over time. It’s free! So, why not?! If you are interested in how your Canadian credit score is calculated, you can read my article on that here.