Rounding it up
Your credit score represents your credit history and ability to pay bills on time
It’s important to keep track of your score so you don’t run into difficulty when applying for things like loans, or rental applications
You can get a free credit report through a credit bureau every 12 months, but this won’t show your credit score
There are two types of credit enquiries; a soft check or a hard check
You can check your credit score by paying a fee to a credit bureau, through your financial institution, or through a third party site
Curious about your credit score and how it affects your financial life?
Knowing your credit score helps you make informed decisions on whether to apply for that travel credit card (or not because you’ll face rejection and lower your credit score). Your credit score determines the rate you’ll pay for loans, on your mortgage and home equity line of credit, and could impress your potential landlord on rental applications (even a lower score positions you as someone who cares about their credit and improving it).
Below, we explore all the different ways and apps you can use to check your credit score in Canada.
We'll also delve into how often you should do it to avoid penalties, and by the end, you'll have a clear understanding of accessing your credit score and managing your financial well-being.
Let's explore various methods of obtaining your credit score in Canada:
How to check your credit online (the fast and easy way):
The two main credit bureaus in Canada are Equifax and TransUnion. Both of these companies buy most of their credit information from FICO, a US-based company. These two bureaus then use your FICO score to determine your credit rating with other Canadian factors.
Click to get your free credit score from Equifax. Make sure to click this link and beware of any add-ons and upsells to their premier ($19.95 per month) or friends and family packages ($24.95 per month).
Click here to get your free credit score from TransUnion. They call it a “consumer disclosure.” Again beware of upsells to the premium service that costs $24.95 per month.
Both TransUnion and Equifax offer cancel-anytime monthly subscriptions that unlock access to unlimited access to your credit report and score, credit score and report alerts in case it drops or suspicious activity, and identity theft assistance. TransUnion also provides a credit analysis to help guide you through building your credit.
Ways to check your credit score in Canada for free (with a catch)
If you Googled how to check your credit score, you probably saw a lot of sponsored posts from companies promising a free credit score.
Remember, if something is free, you’re the product.
All of these companies use Equifax and TransUnion to get your credit score, the difference is once they know your credit score, they’ll try to sell you products based on your credit score like credit cards, loans, mortgages and insurance.
Koho.ca - take out a line of credit (you choose the amount) and watch your credit grow!
Clearscore.com - sells credit cards.
Borrowell.com - sells credit cards, mortgages, insurance, and a credit builder.
CreditKarma - sells credit cards, personal loans, and mortgages.
Mogo - Get your Equifax credit score and use their brokerage account to buy and sell stocks or ETFs. You’ll have to download their app.
Scotiabank accesses TransUnion’s score for free for account holders.
Royal Bank of Canada - accesses TransUnion’s score for free if you’re an RBC customer.
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce - accesses Equifax scores, but no reports, and is free for CIBC customers.
Bank of Montreal - You’ll need to be a BMO customer.
How to check credit score in the mail for free:
Prefer a physical copy? Request your credit report by mail.
Equifax allows you to order your credit report online, receiving your hard copy in the mail within 10 to 20 days. You’ll have to fill out the necessary forms and include the required identification copies.
TransUnion provides your free consumer disclosure (credit report) by mail. Here’s how to get it:
For both TransUnion and Equifax, you’ll need 2 pieces of identification. Do not send originals, just photocopies.
Be ready with your information. You’ll need:
Previous address (if less than two years at your current address)
Date of birth
Social insurance number (optional, but recommended)
You’ll also need to submit photocopies of both sides of a single piece of non-expired, Canadian government issued identification, such as
Certificate of Indian Status
Permanent resident card
Old age security card
Department of national defence card
Provincial photo ID
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada form must be accompanied by a valid foreign passport and a secondary piece of ID (e.g. utility bills, credit card statements, social insurance card, or tax slips—make sure they have your name and current address).
For Equifax, you’ll mail your completed form and photocopies of the required identification to:
Equifax Canada Co.
National Consumer Relations
P.O. Box 190
Montreal, Quebec H1S 2Z2
For TransUnion, you’ll mail your completed form and photocopies of identifying information to:
English speakers in all provinces except Quebec:
TransUnion Consumer Relations Department
P.O. Box 338, LCD1
French speakers in all provinces and English speakers in Quebec:
Centre de relations au consommateur
P.O. Box 338, LCD1
How to get a credit report in person for free:
For a personalized experience, both Equifax and TransUnion enable in-person requests for your credit report.
This option allows direct interaction with credit bureau representatives and the opportunity to address any queries you may have.
Visit their locations with at least two identification pieces for verification (not photocopies) and one must be with a photo (see full list above).
Here are Equifax locations in Canada
|Toronto Office Location:|
|Address:||5700 Yonge Street, Concourse Level (near bottom of escalators), Toronto, ON M2M 4K2|
|Transportation:||Finch Station on the TTC|
|Building Name:||North American Centre|
|Hours of Operation:||Monday-Friday, 8:30 am-4:30 pm ET|
|Halifax Office Location:|
|Address:||1718 Argyle Street, Suite 720, Halifax, NS B3J 3N6|
|Service Provider:||Lyle Tilley Davidson Chartered Accountants|
|Hours of Operation:||Monday-Friday, 9 am-4:30 pm AT|
|Charlottetown Office Location:|
|Address:||155 Belvedere Avenue, Suite 200, Charlottetown, PE C1A 8B9|
|Hours of Operation:||Monday-Friday, 8:30 am-4:30 pm AT|
Here are TransUnion’s locations in Canada
|Province||TransUnion||Address||Hours of Operation|
|NOVA SCOTIA||TransUnion||C/O Lyle Tilley Davidson Chartered Accountants
1718 Argyle Street, Suite 720
Halifax, NS B3J 3N6
|9 a.m.-5 p.m. AST. (M-F)|
|PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND||TransUnion||C/O BDO Canada LLP
155 Belvedere Ave, Suite 200
Charlottetown, PE C1A 8B9
|8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (M-F)|
|ONTARIO||TransUnion||3115 Harvester Road, Suite 201
Burlington, ON L7N 3N8
|9 a.m.-4:00 p.m. (M-F)
NOTE: You must schedule your appointment online ahead of time.
How to get a credit report by phone in Canada
You’ll confirm your identity with your social insurance number or credit card number and by answering a few personal and financial questions.
For English, call 1-800-663-9980 between the hours of 8 a.m.-8 p.m. eastern standard time Monday to Friday.
For French, call 1-800-663-9980, and press #2 between 8:30 a.m.- 5 p.m. eastern standard time Monday to Friday.
Call (877) 322-8228. You will go through an identity verification process over the phone, and your Equifax credit report will be mailed to you within 15 days.
Understanding Your Credit Report:
Now that you have your credit report in hand, what does it mean?
It’s filled with numbers, letters and jargon, so we’ll break it down for you.
The letters on your report show the type of credit you’re using:
The letter “I” is an installment credit like a car loan.
The letter “O” is an open status credit like a mobile phone account.
The letter “R” is revolving or recurring credit like a credit card.
The letter “M” is a mortgage loan like a mortgage or home equity line of credit.
These letters are followed by numbers on an escalating scale. For instance, an R1 means it’s a credit card that is paid within 30 days of billing or an O5 means you’re more than 120 days late on your mobile phone account.
The numbers and their meanings are as follows:
|2||Late payment: 31 to 59 days late|
|3||Late payment: 60 to 89 days late|
|4||Late payment: 90 to 119 days late|
|5||Late payment: more than 120 days late, but not yet rated "9"|
|6||This code isn't used|
Making regular payments using one of the following debt management options:
What is Credit Monitoring and How Does it Work?
Credit monitoring is a valuable service offered by credit bureaus, credit card issuers, and financial institutions.
If you suspect fraud or have experienced a data breach (personally, at work, or with a third-party service) credit monitoring is ongoing surveillance of your credit report and score. Whoever is monitoring your credit will let you know of any significant changes or odd activities to do with your credit so you can respond accordingly.
It also allows you to stay on top of your progress. A study by Borrowell found that Canadians who monitor their credit scores see it improve by as much as 20 points in less than 2 years.
You can also spot mistakes and dispute the errors much quicker.
How Often Can I Check My Credit Score?
Equifax and TransUnion both recommend checking it at least once a year. Fortunately, Canadians are entitled to one free credit report each year from either of these bureaus.
Checking your credit score doesn’t hurt your credit. Only hard checks from lenders like credit card companies, loan providers and mortgages will cause a temporary hit on your credit score.
All that said, how often you should check your credit score depends on your circumstances and financial goals.
We recommend reviewing your credit report from one bureau, then waiting six months and check your credit score with the other bureau.
Staggering the checks keeps it free and increases the chances of catching discrepancies or issues, especially before getting a new credit card or applying for a mortgage. Pop it into your calendar as a recurring event and schedule some “financial” time with yourself or your family.
Knowing how to check your credit score is just one way to practice healthy financial habits. By staying informed, you empower yourself to make sound financial decisions and pave the way for a brighter financial future.
Tyler Wade believes in mental wealth—a healthy approach to finances is better for your health. You can find his writing on KOHO, Forbes Advisor, and Ratehub where he also launched, produced, and hosted the Real Money Talk podcast. He's a husband to one, a father of two, and is a bit of a cyborg.