Getting a free credit score in Canada is much easier than before. Several options now exist for you to instantly get your credit score and report without hassle (mailing in forms and ID’s). While I write a lot about travel here, I think the topic of personal finance is just as important.
Good credit is very important when it comes to travel with miles and points. You can earn a lot of points with your credit cards, especially with welcome bonuses. One of the best cards to get right now is the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card, which has an increased offer of 50,000 points.
Especially if you’ve had bad credit history, you want to check whether you have a good enough score to apply and get approved. In addition to your score, having your report is important to see the status of your accounts and view inquiries.
[Post updated Feb 2019]
Credit Score Basics
There are two many credit bureaus in Canada, Equifax and TransUnion. All credit card issuers view your file with one or both of these issuers when you apply for a credit card. This check is known as a hard inquiry. Other companies, such as your telecom provider, may also pull your file if you are getting a phone on contract, for example. Your credit score ranges from 300-900. An excellent credit score is in the high 700s. Anything above that will not significantly impact a credit decision, according to this Globe and Mail article.
Five factors contribute to your credit score:
Mostly, these factors look at your history – how risky you are if when a lender extends you credit. Utilization & Balances is a large chunk of your score. It’s determined by your total utilized credit divided by your total available credit. Opening new credit cards may actually be advantageous to your credit because you will decrease your credit utilization assuming your spending stays the same.
Free Credit Score Options
Here are all the options to get a free credit score and report in Canada that I know of. If you find anything new, please let me know or leave a comment.
Be aware of other options that may be targeted to you. When there was a breach of data at Home Depot, anyone who had made a purchase with them could claim a free one-year membership to Equifax. More recently, this also happened to those who had opened accounts at BC Credit Unions.
- Access: Updates Every Three Months
- Includes: Score and Report
- Bureau: Equifax
- More Info: Free Equifax Credit Report with Borrowell!
Borrowell is a personal loan company that gives you a free monthly credit score and report. This the only company that provides free access to your Equifax file. To sign up, fill out the application on Borrowell site. Normally, this costs $20 a month directly with Equifax.
The process takes just minutes, and is one of the steps you can take to avoid identity theft. CIBC, TD, MBNA, and BMO pull Equifax, among others, which will display on your Equifax report. An inquiry which you aren’t familiar could be a sign that someone is trying to apply for something in your name.
Free TransUnion Score – Credit Karma
- Access: Updates Weekly
- Includes: Score and Report
- Bureau Display: TransUnion
- More Info: Access your Score with Credit Karma!
Credit Karma is a huge American company, backed by hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital. I use their credit report product in the US as well and have no problem with how they (securely) store my info.
They expanded to Canada last November and have been here since. This is the best free credit option available out there, because they provide both a score and a credit report. You can see your inquiries, open/closed accounts and more all for free.
Free Credit Score – Equifax
- Access: Updates Monthly
- Includes: Score Only
- Bureau: Equifax
Mogo is also another personal loan and finance company offering a free credit score through Equifax. They update your score every month. In addition to loans, they also offer mortgages through other lenders, and have a prepaid card. Please do your due diligence before making any important financial decision.
Unfortunately, most of these free options are not available for Quebec residents, due to strict provincial legislation. This includes the TransUnion online disclosure, Credit Karma, Borrowell, and Mogo. Some financial institutions, such as CIBC and Scotiabank, will offer free credit scores to clients, but not credit reports. Your best option is to request by mail a copy of your report, which you can find on the Equifax and TransUnion websites.
Free Consumer Disclosure – Direct
- Access: Once Annually – No Updates
- Includes: Report Only – No Score
- Bureau Display: TransUnion and Equifax
- More Info: TransUnion Consumer Disclosure
If you are wary about how third-parties store your information, you can view your reports directly on Equifax and TransUnion. Federal law requires bureaus let consumers request their report once per year. TransUnion is the better option because they let you view your consumer disclosure online. Equifax does not, requiring you to mail in a form and ID. In the past, they used to have a free trials which were great if you wanted to see your score for just one month. Unfortunately, it seems like they have removed that from their product.
Knowing your credit score is important when trying to get free travel. What’s also important is monitoring your credit. If your personal information is stolen and fraudulently used to apply for a financial product, having your report will allow you to see that and dispute it sooner rather than later. In addition to managing my credit cards, I have copies of both my Equifax and TransUnion report, and monitor them weekly checking for anything suspicious. The two best options are Borrowell for a free Equifax score and report, and Credit Karma for a free TransUnion score and report.