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How to Get Free Credit Report in Canada: Check Your 2021 Credit Score Online

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What does it mean to get a free credit report in Canada? Canadians need to have access to their full, free annual credit report because many things can affect your score from year to year, and having this information could save you money in the long run!

Canada has a lot of free credit report options!. This article will discuss them and why it is important to keep an eye on your credit score.

Do you want to know more about free credit report Canada? If so, then this is the article for you! We will cover how to get your own free annual credit report from credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion. Finally, we’ll go over some great tips on how to improve your credit score! Read on


Annual Credit Report in Canada

What’s a credit report?

A credit report is an in-depth summary of your credit history, provided by one of the Canadian credit bureaus, Equifax Canada or TransUnion. It is like a financial resume that reflects an individual’s propensity to repay debt.

In addition to your credit history, your credit report also includes your personal information, the loans you have taken or applied for, as well as those panels you were denied for. If you’ve ever applied for, used, or canceled a credit card, your activity will show up on your credit report.

When you begin using credit, the two major credit reporting agencies in Canada – Equifax and TransUnion, will create your report.

Every 12 months, by request, they mail a free copy of your report to you. They can also provide your credit score and monitoring for a fee (both are optional).


Any Difference Between a Credit Report and a Credit Score?

There are some aspects where credit reports and credit scores differ from each other:

Credit Scores

A credit score is a three-digit number creditors,  lenders, creditors, and other organizations will use as a judge when deciding whether or not to approve you for any type of credit product. Potential landlords and employers will also check your credit score to confirm that you can be trusted, are financially stable, creditworthy, etc. 

To start building credit, you should first know your score. A good credit score is between 680-900 and will help you open new opportunities down the line. On the other hand, a score of 300-579 is considered low, which means you’ll experience difficulties obtaining loans from banks and other lenders. 

Just like a credit report, your credit score depends on how you’ve been using your credit. Generally, credit scores may be ranked as seen below:

300 – 559 → Poor

560 – 659 → Fair

660 – 724 → Good

725 – 759 → Very Good

760 – 900 → Excellent


How is a Credit Score Calculated?

• 35% of your credit score is from how often you pay on time. These can be on any type of credit account: for example, payments made through private student loans or an installment plan with a phone company

• 30% of your credit score is how much debt you have. It’s not necessarily bad to have a balance on your credit card, as long as the amount is under 30% of the total limit. 

• 15% of your credit score depends on the length of time an account has been open and the length of time since its last activity.

• 10% of your credit score is from credit inquiry and new credit.

• Another 10%  is from your different types of credit.

If you’re planning on applying for any form of credit, it’s important to know your credit score so that you can make an informed decision. A person with a low credit score will get offered higher interest rates, if approved at all, and will be better off with a secured form of credit.


Credit Reports

While credit scores summarize your credit history in a three-digit number, credit reports detail every transaction regarding your credit usage. With a credit report, you can learn what programs and products you’ve used over the last year and how they’ve affected your credit health and score.

The credit report also includes your personal information, which other lenders and organizations will use to check your identity.


What Information does a Credit Report Contain?

A credit report contains:

1. Personal Information

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Your present address and any former addresses
  • Social insurance number
  • Your present and former telephone numbers (work, home, cell)
  • Passport number
  • Driver’s license information 
  • List of your employers, both present and former

2. Credit-Related Information

  • Credit accounts and transactions history
  • Cell phone and Internet service accounts
  • Bankruptcy, legal judgments
  • Any “black marks” (fraud, NSFs, etc.).
  • Identity verification
  • Fraud alerts
  • Hard credit pulls
  • Credit accounts presently in collections.
  • Lien

Credit-related actions can remain on your credit report for an extended period. A new loan taken out, for example, remains on your credit report and is viewable to a prospective lender for six years after the date it was applied for. Unfortunately, bad credit-related actions will also stay on your report for a defined of years. 


How to Get Free Credit Report in Canada: Directly from Canada’s Two Credit Bureau

To obtain a free credit report, you can contact Equifax or TransUnion. These are the simple steps to take:

Equifax Credit Report

Equifax Canada uses the term “credit file disclosure” to refer to your credit report. They offer three ways for individuals in Canada to order their free credit reports.

1. In-Person

If you want to get a copy of your Equifax report in person, visit one of Equifax’s four offices (Montreal, Toronto, Halifax, and Charlottetown) with two forms of identification. At least one of them should have your picture and the other evidence of your present address. Only original copies are needed, do not bring photocopies.

The photo ID you present for proof of identity must not be expired. You won’t have to provide your social insurance number (SIN).

2. By Phone

One of the easiest ways to get your Equifax free credit report is to call 1-800-465-7166 using Equifax’s Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system.

You’ll need to enter your SIN number when you are on the call, then wait ten days for it to arrive by Canada Post at your home address.

3. By Fax or Mail 

To obtain a free credit report by mail or fax, download, print, and fill the “Equifax Canada – Consumer Request for My Free Credit Report” form. You must also include photocopies of two valid Canadian government-issued identification documents. 

One of them must have your current address visible on it, such as your driver’s license, SIN card, or passport. Suppose neither of the two documents you select carries your updated address. In that case, you will need to provide a photocopy of a current utility bill (provided in the last 90 days) showing your current home address. 

Please keep in mind to redact any sensitive information like account numbers and other transactional data. The final step is to send the photocopied documents and completed form by fax to 514-355-8502 or by mail to the mailing address below:

Equifax National Consumer Relations,
Box 190, Station Jean-Talon
Montreal, Quebec, H1S 2Z2
Canada


TransUnion Credit Report

TransUnion also offers a free report called ‘Consumer Disclosure.’ Ordering is similar to Equifax’s free reports but also includes an online portal and excludes faxes. These are the steps to take:

1. In-Person

Bring two valid pieces of identification, including your name, date of birth, current address, and signature, to any TransUnion office.

2. Ordering By Phone

To make a credit report request, call 1(800) 663-9980 and follow the automated voice instructions. When prompted to do so, select option number one.

3. Online

You can see your credit report directly on TransUnion’s website as a PDF. However, Adobe Reader must be installed for it to work properly.

4. By Mail

Like Equifax, to get your free TransUnion credit report by mail, you will start by downloading and printing the needed form. Fill in the required information and include two photocopied copies (both sides) of your government-issued identification documents. 

The standards for pictures, valid, current addresses, and non-expiration documents are just like that of Equifax. Once you have completed the form, mail it and the documents to one of the addresses below.

For English:

TransUnion Consumer Relations Department,
P.O. Box 338, LCD1,
Hamilton, ON L8L 7W2.

OR

For French:

Centre de relations aux consommateurs TransUnion,
CP 1433 Succ. St-Martin,
Laval, QC H7V 3P7.


How to Get Free Credit Report in Canada Online: From a FinTech (Online) Company

Borrowell Credit Report

Borrowell raised the bar to offer Canadians access to their credit score free of charge in 2016. More recently, they have also started providing free annual credit reports through the same portal. Over 1.5 million Canadian residents have used Borrowell to access their credit scores.

The Borrowell free credit score comes from the Equifax Risk Score 2.0 and ranges from 300 to 900. The free credit report they provide is also your full Equifax annual credit report. Below your credit score is an overview of your full Equifax credit report. You can print or download your credit report as often as you like. 

How to Obtain Your Borrowell Free Credit Report Canada Online

  1. Sign up for an account with Borrowell and fill the online form (name, birth date, address, email, etc.)
  2. Answer a few simple questions to verify your identity. You won’t be requested to enter your credit card number or SIN. 

The process is quite easy, and you should be done in under 3 minutes. Borrowell updates your credit report and score weekly, so it’s easy to monitor your credit profile for any fraudulent activity or errors. This saves money that you would have spent on a monthly fee-based service like TransUnion’s monitoring plan.


Other ways to get your free credit report in Canada online are:

Mogo:

Like Borrowell, Mogo also offers free access to your Equifax credit scores and report. It is updated monthly. 

Credit Karma:

Canada’s Credit Karma offers access to your TransUnion credit score and report for free.

Get more details about these companies and their offers in this Borrowell vs Credit Karma vs Mogo review.

From Your Financial Institution’s Online Banking Platform:

Most Canadian financial institutions now offer their customers to get their free credit reports through their online banking. Some of these banks are:

  • RBC Royal Bank of Canada.
  • BMO.
  • Scotiabank.
  • And many more!

Free Credit Report, Canada: How to Read Your Report

When you request a copy of your credit report, there will be a detailed account of your credit history inside.  When you make transactions or open accounts with a lender or creditor, they send your financial details to TransUnion and Equifax. 

Each account will appear on your credit report and is identified by a number and letter. The following is what the numbers and letters stand for.

Numbers:

  • 0 = The account has not been used yet or is newly opened and has not yet generated enough activity to merit a rate.
  • 1 = The account has been paid off within the agreed timeframe.
  • 2 = Payments made within 31 to 59 days late
  • 3 = Payments made between 60 to 89 days late
  • 4 = Payments made between 90 to 119 days late
  • 5 = Payments made more than 120 days late
  • 6 = The account is unused
  • 7 = The account is in consumer proposal, consolidation, or a debt management program
  • 8 = The account is being repossessed
  • 9 = the account is in huge debt and has either filed for bankruptcy or been sold to collections.

Letters:

  • I = Installment Loan (loans you pay off in monthly installments)
  • M = Mortgage 
  • O = Open Status (it means you can borrow up to a set amount)
  • R = Revolving (it means you can borrow up to a set monthly limit, payments fluctuate depending on the amount you’ve borrowed)

Free Credit Report, Canada: Who Can See Your Credit Report?

Several Canadian federal and provincial laws specify who is legally permitted to access the information found in your credit report apart from you and the credit bureaus. Generally speaking, lenders and creditors need your permission to access this information. 

When you apply for a credit card, loan, or other services with a lender, landlord, or potential employer who wants to perform background checks on you and pull your credit report –you’ll need to fill an application with them. The application should include a consent form granting the organization permission to access your credit report. 

All these organizations are looking for the same thing: your financial competency. They’ll look at your credit history, any bankruptcy declarations, and both positive and negative influences on how you spend money to determine whether or not they’re willing to lend you money. 

“Soft hits” versus “Hard hits”

Soft hits

“Soft hits” are credit checks that appear in your credit report but just you can view them. These credit checks have no bearing on your credit score.

The following is a list of examples of soft hits:

  • requesting your own credit report
  • businesses asking for your credit report to update their records about an existing account you have with them.

Hard hits

“Hard hits” are credit checks that show on your credit report and contribute to your credit score. Anyone who looks at your credit report will notice these inquiries.

The following are examples of hard hits:

  • an application for a credit card
  • some rental applications
  • some employment applications

Strategies to Increase Your Credit Score

If you order your credit report and are unsatisfied with the results, there are many strategies available to boost your credit score. Let’s discuss them:

Pay Your Bills on Time

One of the best things you can do to boost your credit score is to pay your bills on time. This is vital as it helps boost your payment history, which is the most important factor for your credit score.

Forgetting about a bill or two may seem harmless, but it will show up in your report and lower your rating even more.

If you cannot pay the whole amount that you owe, make at least the required payment. Even if a bill is in dispute, don’t skip the payment.

Maintain Low Credit Balances 

Your credit utilization ratio is a measure of how much of your available credit you are using. Calculate your credit usage rate to figure out the best approach to utilize your available credit. You can do this by adding up all of your credit products limit, such as:

  • Credit Cards
  • Loans
  • Lines of Credit

Individuals who maintain a credit utilization ratio of 30% over various cards are considered to be demonstrating responsibility to lenders.

For example, if your credit limit is $10,000, maintaining below $3,000 as the net balance should be viewed favourably by lenders. It’s preferable to have a larger credit limit and use less of it each month.

Lenders evaluate you as a higher risk if you use a significant amount of your available credit. Even if you pay your balance in full on time

Also, don’t go beyond your credit limit. If you have a credit card with a $10,000 limit, try to avoid going over it. Borrowing more than your authorized amount on your credit card can have a detrimental impact on your credit score.

Make Use of a Mix of Credit Products

A variety of credit products might improve your credit score. If you only have one type of credit product, such as a credit card, your score may be lower.

It’s preferable to have a varied range of credit, such as:

  • a credit card
  • a line of credit
  • a car loan

Increase Your Credit History Length

The longer you maintain a credit account open and in use, the better your score. If you have new credit accounts, your credit score may be lower.

If you transfer an existing account to a new one, the new account is recognized as a new credit.

Obtain a Cash-Secured Loan

A major difference between a cash-secured loan and traditional loans is that you are not given any money upfront; instead, you make deposits to an account with your lender. This deposit can be recovered later as a lump sum after you’ve made your final payment. 

Similar to traditional loans, you’ll pay interest on the loan. The lender reports payments from that interest back to credit bureaus, which can boost your credit score significantly.

Get a Secured Credit Card

If you cannot obtain a budget-friendly unsecured card due to poor credit, consider applying for a secured card. It is one of the best means of improving your score.

These cards have no minimum credit requirements, accept most applicants, and only need you to match your credit limit with an initial cash deposit. The regular monthly repayment is frequently reported to the credit bureaus, which can help you increase your score quickly.

Reduce the number of Credit Applications or Credit Checks You do

When lenders and others request your credit report, it is recorded as an inquiry by the credit bureau. Credit checks are another name for inquiries.

If your credit report contains a high number of credit checks, lenders may believe you’re:

  • living beyond your financial means
  • desperately seeking credit

Remember that when a company is reviewing your credit report, the process will affect your credit score. Credit bureaus consider it a “hard inquiry” if you are not the one requesting that your report be pulled, and it will slightly affect your credit score.

Soft inquiries, such as when you request your credit report, do not have any negative impacts on your credit score.


How to Get Your Free Credit Score

Before making a major purchase, such as a vehicle or a house, checking your credit score may help you get better terms.

Several online third-party services provide Canadians with their credit score free online; this can usually be done within minutes.

The process starts by signing up for an account and providing information such as an email address and a password. After creating the account, they will ask for a few additional details to confirm your identity and make a matching request from credit bureaus.


Paid vs. Free Credit Report and Score in Canada

Free credit scores are not as detailed as paid ones. Often, a free credit score is just the score and doesn’t give you all the in-depth information you might like to see. While most people may be happy with this simple version of their score, others may want more.

Paid credit score services usually require a monthly fee in exchange for unlimited access to your score and tools that help you track your credit. The best-paid services include details from the two major credit bureaus and their data.

However, nothing can beat the relevance or accuracy of an Equifax or TransUnion credit report because they track the exact metrics banks rely on. Equifax and TransUnion also offer a service where you can dispute any errors or discrepancies on your credit report that could negatively affect your score.

Remember that requests for your credit score and report will not damage your credit. This process is known as a ‘soft’ check while having banks do their due diligence on loan applications constitutes a ‘hard’ check.


FAQs on Free Credit Report Canada


Bottom Line: Free Credit Report in Canada

Your credit reports and credit scores are two valuable financial tools that can help you through life. What’s more, a good record of responsible credit usage will let you secure loans without much trouble at all. Lenders and creditors usually want to know customers’ ability to pay them back before approving any finance deals, and checking your credit report helps them make sure.

Your credit report contains more detailed information about your credit history. It can be obtained free of charge from credit bureaus including Equifax and TransUnion and fin-tech companies like Borrowell.

For your Equifax credit report, you can request it by calling them at 1-800-465-7166. Borrowell provides a free Equifax report.

For a TransUnion credit report, you can access the report online and download it. Credit Karma provides a free TransUnion credit report.

Overall, to have a healthy and happy financial future, it’s important to keep tabs on both your credit score and credit report. That way, you can identify errors faster, track improvements in your credit profile over time, and more easily maintain good credit.

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