Dear Liz: In one recent column, you referred your readers to AnnualCreditReport.com as a site to get a copy of your credit report. In another column, you suggested readers visit MyFico.com to check their credit scores. Does the information available at these tow sites overlap, or are they different enough to warrant a trip to both?
Answer: The two sites are quite different, although they have some of the same information.
AnnualCreditReport.com is the federally-mandated site that allows you to see your credit reports at each of the three major bureaus—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion—once a year for free.
While you’re on that site, the credit bureaus will try to sell you credit scores, among other products. But the scores they’re selling may not be the FICO scores that lenders use.
To get your available FICO scores, you would need to visit MyFico.com. There, for $15.95 each, you can buy your FICO scores from Equifax and from TransUnion. (Experian no longer sells FICO scores to individuals, although it continues to sell your FICO score to lenders.)
Along with your FICO score, you get access to your credit report at that bureau.
So my advice is to visit AnnualCreditReport.com at least once a year to review your credit reports for free. Whenever you’re going to be in the market for a major loan, buy access to at least one of your scores from MyFico.com so you can see where you stand with lenders.