How To Get Your Free Credit Score And Report in Canada

howtogetyourfreecreditscoreandreportincanada.jpgChecking your credit score for free has long been possible in the USA, but here in Canada you always had to fork over roughly $20 to either Equifax or Transunion to see your score.

There was, and still is, a clever way around this that I will tell you about later - but the big news is that you can now get free instant access to your credit score!

Unsurprisingly, there are a few small strings attached - but I think you will find them quite reasonable. I know I did when I decided to get my own score for free a couple of weeks ago.

Before I get into the free scores, I want explain what credit scores are and why you should know yours. But, if you just want get your score ASAP, here you go:

Get Your Free Credit Score Now

What Are Credit Scores And Credit Reports?

Your credit report or credit file is a detailed history about your money borrowing activity.

Whenever you take out a loan, open a credit card, or even get a cell phone - those companies often report back to one of the two credit bureaus or agencies that operate in Canada: Equifax or TransUnion.

They don’t just report the fact that you borrowed money either, but they continue to report your payment history and outstanding balances on a regular basis. If you miss payments, completely stop paying a loan, or close an account - it’s recorded.

Related: How To Get Out Of Debt Faster

All of that information goes into one big file under your name, address, and sometimes your social insurance number if you gave it to them when you opened your accounts.

Then, when you want some form of new credit, companies will pay Equifax or TransUnion to see your credit history so they can decide how risky of a client you are. If you aren’t risky, they will approve you and give you the lowest rates. If you are a little risky, they will charge your higher rates to compensate. If you are very risky - they simply show you the door.

So if companies can already see all of this - then what is a credit score and why is it needed?

A credit score is simply an estimate of how credit worthy you are represented as a single number. The actual number is calculated using proprietary algorithms created by the credit bureaus. To avoid confusion, in Canada both of them assign scores ranging from 300 on the low end to 900 on the high end.

In short, one easy number allows companies to make quick decisions about approving you for a loan or service without reading your full report.

Want to increase your credit score? Get your copy of this 2-page PDF download for 12 easy tips you shouldn't miss.

Why It’s Important To Check Your Credit Regularly

The credit reporting system is far from perfect and ridiculously error prone because:

  • It relies on an uncoordinated group of companies that don’t really care to report important financial details about you accurately.
  • The system often just roughly identifies you by name and address - making it possible to mix you up with another person both when your credit is checked or updated by a company.
  • Studies have been done showing 25% of credit reports contain errors and 5% of them have serious accuracy problems.
  • In some cases you can even be confused with someone who has a name that is only slightly similar to your own - that person could even be dead, a criminal, or a terrorist.

With mistakes being so common, checking your score and report regularly is clearly a wise thing to do. If you spot any mistakes, report them to both bureaus immediately so they can correct them.

Even if your report is accurate, knowing your score is still important:

  • It is becoming more common for employers to check your credit history when interviewing you for a job. A low score could mean a lost opportunity.
  • Some landlords now check credit as well and will reject you if they don’t like what they see.
  • If your score and history are bad, you might not be approved for mortgages, lines of credit, car loans, or even TV service or a cell phone.
  • If your score is lower, you may be approved but at costly higher interest rates to compensate for the “increased risk”.

Bottom line: keeping your score above 700 is important to qualify for the best rates and to make sure you will qualify for most loans and services.

Getting Your Credit Score For Free

Here are all the ways you can currently get your credit score for free in Canada:

1) Borrowell

Borrowell is a Canadian company that offers quick access to low interest loans for people primarily looking to pay off high interest and save money. I did a Q&A with them about peer to peer lending last year.

They recently partnered with Equifax Canada to give you free access to your credit score. How it works is they pay the credit score fee for you so you can check your score without cost. They will even give you an updated score every 3 months on an ongoing basis, which is a great bonus.

creditscore1.jpg

Why are they doing this?

To get more Canadian eyeballs looking at the services they offer and hopefully becoming future customers. They also get your name and contact information so they can send you financial tips and more details about their products - typically by email.

The good news is you are under no obligation to use any of their products or services, and unsubscribing from their marketing emails can be done with a simple click of the unsubscribe link in any email they send you.

In today’s world where so many companies have your contact information anyway, those feel like pretty small strings to me to always know my credit score. The alternative: pay $16.95 every month to Equifax or TransUnion.

I checked my own score using Borrowell a couple of weeks ago and I found the process to be very quick and their user interface easy to use - much better than Equifax or TransUnion’s own sites.

Check Your Score Free @ Borrowell

2) Mogo

Mogo is another Canadian online loan provider that also partnered with Equifax a few months ago to offer free credit scores.

Their service appears to work very similar to Borrowell’s, except that I did notice they promise increased monthly updates about your score. They also have an app you can use to check your score and apply for loans.

Their motivation for providing free scores is also the same - the hope that some of those people will take out a loan with them.

Where I’ve had lots of experience with Borrowell and know they are very active in the Canadian personal finance community - I hadn’t heard of Mogo until very recently nor have I had a chance to try their service myself.

Check Your Score Free @ Mogo

3) Free Trial With Equifax

Equifax Canada is known to offer free 30 day trials of their credit monitoring service - but not when you land directly on their site. After 30 days it costs $16.95 and they will bill you automatically every month.

Credit monitoring gives you instant access to both your credit score and credit report online as well as email alerts if anything significant changes with your credit history so you can quickly spot problems, potential fraud, or identity theft.

To get your score for free this way, first you need to find an advertisement or partner offering the free 30 day trial. I found typing the search “equifax free credit score” into Google produces good results as pictured below.

creditscore2.jpg

Next, you need to order the Equifax Complete Advantage Plan, which is their credit monitoring product. You will need to provide your credit card number to place your order even though they will not bill you for the first month.

Finally, after you check your score and report, you need to call their customer service line to cancel before your 30 days is up. You may need to wait on hold and they will certainly try to talk you out of cancelling when you call - just stick to your guns and they’ll do it.

I have done a few times myself over the years, and ultimately I was able to get my score and report free every time without being billed. But, I do recommend checking your credit card statement just to be sure.

Getting Your Credit Report For Free

Laws in parts of Canada mandate that you must be given access to your full credit history (without score) once a year if you request it. This allows you to check for errors and omissions in your report and get a good idea of how your credit looks to potential lenders.

As I said before, the score is just an easy number for people to glance at when making credit decisions. You don’t really need your score to know roughly where you stand.

Here’s how you can request your free credit report through Equifax and TransUnion.

TransUnion

It used to be requesting a paper copy of your credit report by snail mail could be done by finding, downloading, filling out and mailing them a practically hidden form on the website of one of the two credit bureaus...

...And why wouldn’t they hide it? After all they are trying to make money by getting you to pay to access your report and score online.

That’s why I was shocked to see that TransUnion has recently made it super easy to get your full credit report (without score) online. They actually call it a more technically correct name - Consumer Disclosure - but it’s the same thing.

Get your Consumer Disclosure online from TransUnion here

You can also still request your report by snail mail.

Download, print, and mail this form

Equifax

Equifax hasn’t taken the user friendly approach like TransUnion and still require you to mail them a completed form with 2 pieces of ID to request your credit report by snail mail.

It’s unfortunate because in my experience it seems companies tend to favour Equifax over Transunion for checking consumer credit histories. I recommend requesting your report from both bureaus so you can check for errors and fix any problems.

Here’s the Equifax free credit report request form

What’s Your Number?

If you’re comfortable with it, would you share your credit score in an (anonymous) comment? Add a little extra info about the financial decisions you’ve made that might have impacted your score. That way we can get a discussion going on credit scores and learn from each other in the process.

My score was 821 when I checked a couple of weeks ago, which is great. It’s previously been as low as the high 600s though when I had taken out a brand new car loan, opened a few credit cards, and opened accounts with a couple cell phone carriers all within a short period of time. Before that, I was usually in the high 700s.

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Comments

Anonymous
Anonymous 's picture

I obtained it from Borrowell and it is 838. Only have student loans currently. Car loan was paid off in 2 years (was a 4 year term) and I never carry a balance on my credit cards.

September 06, 2016 @ 10:03 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

That's a great score - I wonder if paying off the car loan early had an impact on raising your score.

September 08, 2016 @ 10:38 am
anonymous
anonymous's picture

this question is not related to the credit score. hope you don't mind.
i closed my TD credit card last December after i used it for about a year and got my 25000 aeroplan miles.
do you know when i can apply for the TD aeroplan credit card again. i hear that i have to wait for at least 2 years.
thank you so much.

September 06, 2016 @ 1:15 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Unfortunately I don't know the exact length of time for TD. I know CIBC used to be 3 or 6 months years ago - but that may have increased. I don't churn often enough that it is usually a concern for me.

September 08, 2016 @ 10:39 am
Steve
Steve's picture

Just checked my Equifax score with Borrowell and it was 668. Not very good. I am a member of Equifax credit services monthly and my score, which I checked today, is 738. Why the big difference in the two. I am re-establishing credit and have 2 major credit cards with a total $10,000 limit and am just short of two years with perfect payments on time always and a small balance on each account. Very confused about the difference.
Please comment.

September 07, 2016 @ 1:00 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I had a similar experience when I checked my score and it was 821, then I had my mortgage broker check my score and it came back in the low 800s - I think it was 804.

I asked Eva Wong, the COO of Borrowell about that, and she said that Equifax doesn't have "one" score for a person. They calculate the score in quite a few different ways depending on which company or person is asking.

So somebody requesting for a mortgage might get a different score than someone requesting for a loan, than someone requesting for a cell phone, and requesting for themselves, and so on. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me that they do it this way because it confuses the consumer. If you average those two score out, it looks like you are probably somewhere in the 700 range.

September 08, 2016 @ 10:43 am
Philippe
Philippe's picture

Darn! Neither Borowell or Mogo offer their services in Quebec yet. Will have to fill-out the Equifax form and wait for ever..

September 07, 2016 @ 9:29 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

That is a shame - you could try the credit monitoring trick and cancel after a month. That should work in Quebec.

September 08, 2016 @ 10:44 am
Beblamith
Beblamith's picture

A bit sad that neither Borrowell nor Mogo work in Québec, but I can confirm that the Equifax trial is working. It's just a pain you have to go through a call with their customer reps to get it cancelled... Also, I don't know if this trial is reusable or not.
Anyway, thanks for the info :) Nice to discover your blog

September 13, 2016 @ 1:53 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I've used the free trial several times myself without any issues. I'm guessing if you try to do this every month they will probably put a stop to it eventually.

September 13, 2016 @ 3:25 pm
Beblamith
Beblamith's picture

Thanks, tried it again and it worked (my last check was last year).

September 19, 2016 @ 9:58 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Glad to hear it!

September 20, 2016 @ 10:43 am
Beblamith
Beblamith's picture

Hey! Just discovered that you could also add ratehub.ca to your list : you can get your credit score from equifax for free there, and it even works for Quebec residents :D

January 17, 2017 @ 1:32 pm
Ehsan
Ehsan's picture

Just checked mine and it was 755. $630k mortgage left, no loan, Visa Card(5k limit) , 3 master cards(one $500, 4k another one, 6k ),
Planing to meet my m.broker to see how much I could get for another mortgage to buy 1st rental property in Hamilton.
Perhaps I should lower the limits of my cards to have a better credit score.

September 13, 2016 @ 1:28 pm
Dan M.
Dan M.'s picture

How did you use the free trial? I used it once 3 years ago, I canceled it but it seems that I still have an account with them. How can you use it again?

September 26, 2016 @ 1:03 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I just signed into my existing account while ordering - worked fine. You could also create a new one using a different email address.

September 26, 2016 @ 12:23 pm
Dan M.
Dan M.'s picture

Amazing ... it worked!!! I just saved 16.95$ . Thank you, Stephen!

September 26, 2016 @ 8:58 pm
Jackie
Jackie's picture

Thank you so much for the links. For some reason, I was not able to use the TransUnion online request form for the consumer disclosure, nor did their automated phone request line work for me. I tried both as Jackie and Jacqueline, but in all cases the request was unable to be processed. Maybe there is an error in the address they have on file or something, because I used the Borrowell request and got a number of 880 something (I didn't write it down and I couldn't figure out how to do a screen print), but there were no issues with the process. So I am requesting credit reports by mail from both TransUnion and Equifax to check the identification info. Thaks again.

September 27, 2016 @ 7:51 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

You're welcome Jackie. I had issues with the TransUnion online request form as well. I tried the paid service afterwards and it worked fine - so I think their system is messed up (hopefully not on purpose).

September 29, 2016 @ 10:00 pm
Tuzo
Tuzo's picture

I also had the same experience. I tried to get the free consumer disclosure but it couldn't authenticate me. They seem more than happy to allow me to sign up for their service, however. Sort of makes you wonder...hmmm.

November 12, 2016 @ 12:37 am
Philippe
Philippe's picture

Well, I got my Equifax report by snail mail after filling out their form . Disapointment: although some 13 different financial institutions gave a perfect score (R1, O1, C1, etc,....) all meaning ''Paid as Agreed and Up do Date, Equifax didn't give my score for the following reason: ''the credit score is not part of your credit file'' (try to say that without laughing). It is dynamic and changes with each activity on your file, blah blah blah.
Grrrrrrrrr....

September 28, 2016 @ 8:06 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes, that is why I mentioned in the intro that it is great that you can get the score through Borrowell for free now. Credit report has always been free, but not the score.

September 29, 2016 @ 10:01 pm
Philippe
Philippe's picture

Just tried to get my report on line from TransUnion. Whoah! What a difference with Equifax. The first one is in the 21st century whereas the latter is in the Middle Age. I hardly took me two minutes to get online the same report, again without the score but at last, you are informed of that before you begin your request. But I still do nnot know what my score is....

September 28, 2016 @ 8:38 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Glad you got the TransUnion online form to work - didn't work for me. Seems to be very fussy.

September 29, 2016 @ 10:01 pm
WACM
WACM's picture

I checked mine with Borrowell and it is 844. New mortgage, 3 credit cards, paid off student loan. Super easy to check with Borrowell and looking forward to knowing what it is regularly! Great post Stephen.

October 10, 2016 @ 12:55 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

That's one excellent score - don't think I've ever been that high :)

November 07, 2016 @ 2:33 pm
wan2no
wan2no's picture

Hi there,
I know as a right i can request my credit report free once per year. I am wondering is it calendar year or in my last 12 months?is it from one agency or both?

November 02, 2016 @ 1:12 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Once per year per agency - they may actually let you request it more often - I've never tested that theory. If you really want to know, just give their customer service a call.

November 07, 2016 @ 2:34 pm
Moneyme
Moneyme's picture

My credit score is 736 - it feel 35 points in one quarter! Only 4 points from Excellent.
I was in a TD branch to review my trading account and it was pointed out to me that my TDVisa was active - I had cancelled it over the phone but unless you get a pre-recorded message and/or a statement in the mail then it stays active. Is this good or bad for your score?

November 12, 2016 @ 7:08 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

If there is no outstanding or overdue balance then active cards are good for your credit score. It increases your average credit age and total available credit which reduces your credit utilization ratio. Can you think of something else that might be behind the drop?

November 13, 2016 @ 8:07 pm
John
John's picture

20 years old. 710 credit score not bad for my age I guess

January 02, 2017 @ 7:25 pm
Ellen
Ellen's picture

Well, i had an 812 by mail from Equifax in 2016. But, I just tried to do it online with Transunion, and it errored me out - didn't complete. And I gave them my SIN.

So, i guess I'm mailing in a form to them to make sure it's all good....

January 04, 2017 @ 5:39 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

The online system didn't work well for me either ... very frustrating.

January 10, 2017 @ 10:21 am
Kathryn
Kathryn's picture

Great post! Just wanted to add that Credit Karma recently launched in Canada and they pull their report and credit score from TransUnion, so I've basically signed up with Borowell as well as Credit Karma, and you'd be surprised that they can be fairly different in scores. I had a past Rogers bill of $55 I didn't know about once I thought the account had been closed (I swear I was never contacted by Rogers at all!) and it basically went to collections. When I heard about it from collections I freaked out, as that was the first I was hearing about it, and paid it right away. Now I'm stuck with it being on my record for the next 7 years. But the interesting thing is that that negative mark only shows up on my TransUnion and not Equifax, so not everyone reports to all credit bureaus.

March 21, 2017 @ 1:32 pm

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