3 min read

11 ways to get your credit score for free in canada

Written By

Clay Shiffman

Your credit score is vital information used by many financial institutions. It's not just a number creditors and lenders use to assess your eligibility for loans but also your financial identity for background checks, job applications, tenant screening, and financial product applications.

Keeping tabs on your credit score is essential to ensure credit bureaus have accurate information on your payment and credit history. It also gives you an idea of your progress against your goals. For example, if your goal is to achieve an excellent credit score, you can periodically monitor your credit score online to see how much further you have.

There are several ways to monitor your credit file and get free credit reports. Here's how you can stay on top of your financial health.

Understanding your credit report

Your credit report is an ongoing document with vital information relating to your financial well-being. Your credit score is calculated based on several factors like credit history, debts owed, number and types of credit accounts, and payment history. Creditors, lenders, and other financial institutions report your credit activities to the credit bureaus, which use the information to give you a three-digit score. While credit scoring models vary based on the bureau, you typically expect a score between 300 and 850.

Your credit score can change monthly. For example, if you consistently make on-time payments and keep your credit utilization low, your score may increase this month. However, if you apply for new credit and receive a hard credit inquiry next month, your score may decrease. Some information stays on your credit file for up to seven years, such as bankruptcies, liens, and collections. While these have a longer negative impact on your credit report, you can still work towards improving your score with healthy spending and credit management skills.

How often you should check your credit report

You can check your credit score as often as you like. Most creditors provide monthly updates to credit bureaus, so you can check your credit score monthly if you really want to stay on top of your financial well-being. If you're trying to increase your score, repair poor credit, or apply for a new credit product soon, checking your credit report monthly can help monitor your progress more closely. Otherwise, periodically reviewing your credit report every few months is enough to inform you of your financial habits and credit situation.

Importance of checking your credit report

Knowing your credit score helps you make informed decisions about applying for credit accounts. Most creditors and lenders have minimum income and credit score requirements for their products. Whether you're looking to finance a new car, home, post-secondary education degree, vacation, or home project, your credit score has a big influence on whether you can get a loan. Lenders like borrowers with high credit scores because it shows financial responsibility and stability. Getting a free credit report helps you understand whether your score meets their criteria.

Checking your credit file also ensures your information is accurate. Identity theft can happen to anyone, and ensuring your report is error-free lowers your risk of someone stealing your information. You can sign up to get alerted on changes to your report, such as new inquiries, credit accounts, debts, and credit limits. If anything seems suspicious or unfamiliar, dispute it immediately.

What is a credit monitoring service?

A credit monitoring service monitors your credit report on your behalf and alerts you to key changes. For example, they'll notify you when new credit accounts are added to your file or negative information like late or missed payments. It's a convenient way to keep you informed and helps you stay on track to building a healthy credit history.

Getting a credit report for free in Canada

Many factors affect your credit score in Canada, and getting periodic credit score reports gives you a better idea of how you're performing in each area and where you can improve. Here are some ways to get free credit reports in Canada to monitor your overall financial well-being.

Get your credit report online

Most lenders offer free credit reports by logging into your account. For example, if you have a credit card with a credit card company, you can request a credit report from them. The credit report contains information you want on your current and past credit and payment history. You can get a copy of your credit report by submitting a request and confirming your identity. It is one of the fastest ways to get a free credit report to monitor your score and conduct a self-audit of your credit situation.

Order by mail

You can submit a request in writing to get a credit report and mail it to the credit bureau or financial institution. Once you complete the request form and provide the required documentation, such as photocopies of your government-issued identification, mail your request to the correct address and wait to receive a copy of your credit report. Examples of valid identification include your passport, driver's license, Canadian citizenship card, and birth certificate.

Submit your request by phone

You can request your credit report by calling the financial institution, such as your credit card issuer. Once you verify your identity, they'll provide the information you want about your credit file. You can also get this information from the credit bureau by calling their office.

Get your credit report in person

Your creditor or lender may have office locations. You can visit any of their branches to request a free printed copy of both your credit file and score. You'll most likely have to verify your identity, so bring valid documentation. In most cases, the customer service teller will ask for original copies of government-issued photo identification.

Request your report from a credit bureau

Credit bureaus may offer paid or free credit score reports. Some reports are more detailed than others and contain comprehensive information to give you a clearer picture of your financial well-being. You may see slightly different scores, as credit bureaus can have different credit scoring models. However, the differences are typically minor.

Check your credit score from a credit reporting company

Several credit reporting companies provide free credit scores. Borrowell, Credit Karma, ClearScore, and CompareHub are examples of companies that specialize in credit reporting and suggesting products based on your score. You regularly check your credit report and monitor whether your score goes up or down.

Anyone can access their report by signing up for an account with these providers. You can also get alerts whenever your score changes or there's a new activity with your account. It makes it easier to keep track of any suspicious activities that don't belong to you.

Credit score apps

Credit score apps make it convenient for you to stay updated on your credit report. For example, the KOHO app lets you check your credit score anytime, anywhere. Once you sign up for a KOHO account, you have a 30-day free trial to get a free credit score. You can also get access to credit-building support to put you on the right track toward a higher credit score. Whether you're just starting to build credit or want to repair your credit score, the KOHO app is a credit tool to get a free credit score and be informed of your financial situation.

Go to a bank

Most banks partner with credit bureaus to offer a copy of your credit report. You can go to a branch, call the financial institution, or mail in a request. You can also track your credit, spending, and payment activities to ensure you're practicing healthy financial habits. Most credit reports provide useful insights into what you're doing well and tips on where you can improve to increase your score.

Request a paid copy of your credit report

While you can get a free credit report from most lenders, creditors, credit bureaus, credit monitoring services, and financial institutions, some people choose to pay for a more comprehensive report. You can get more information to give you a more detailed view of your credit history, which is great if you want to boost your score and repair bad credit quickly. Many paid versions of credit reports also provide added benefits like more security to keep your personal information confidential.

Use a credit monitoring service

Credit monitoring services keep track of your credit report and keep you updated on changes. It helps you stay on track of your monthly progress towards building good credit and alerts you of changes to your personal information to protect you against identity fraud.

Get your report from a fintech company

Many third-party financial technology companies gather and analyze your credit history and give you a report based on the findings. You can get a copy of your file by requesting it online or contacting the company. There may be slight differences between what you see on their reports and credit bureau reports, but it gives you an estimate of whether you're progressing in the right direction.

Do banks offer free access to your credit report?

Most credit reporting companies allow customers to access free credit scores on a limited basis. For example, you can request a free credit report every 12 months from one of the major credit bureaus. You can typically get a free credit report from your credit provider, like your credit card company, a few times a year from the convenience of their credit score app or website. It makes it easier to monitor your score and review your report for mistakes or incomplete information.

Get your credit score from KOHO today

Building your credit with KOHO starts with getting a copy of your free credit report. Get monthly updates and insights on the dos and don'ts of improving your credit without putting a dent in your score.

Practicing healthy credit management skills is a great way to improve your credit score. You can sign up for a virtual credit card to spend instantly from the convenience of your mobile device. As long as you pay your bills on time and keep your utilization low, you can slowly build your credit score.

We also provide overdraft protection coverage in emergencies. When unexpected things happen, you don't want to worry about penalty fees if you go over your credit limit. You get up to $250 zero-interest cash advance to hold you over until you repay the borrowed money.

Learn more about how KOHO can help you build credit, earn interest, develop healthy financial habits, and support your financial journey.

Note: KOHO product information and/or features may have been updated since this blog post was published. Please refer to our KOHO Plans page for our most up to date account information!