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How to get a free credit report

CNBC Select reviews credit report basics and how you can get a free credit report, so you can start monitoring your credit now.

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Monitoring your credit report is a smart and simple way to be proactive about your finances. Checking your credit report regularly can help you spot fraud early and ensure the correct information is reported to the credit bureaus. There are many resources available so you can get a free credit report as often as once a month.

Below, CNBC Select reviews credit report basics and different ways you can get a free credit report, so you can start monitoring your credit now.

Does checking my credit report hurt my credit?

No, checking your credit report does not hurt your credit. And checking your credit score doesn't hurt your credit either. These actions are considered "soft pulls" which don't affect your credit score. Actions, such as applying for a credit card, which require a "hard pull," temporarily ding your credit score.

Learn more: Check your odds of getting approved for a credit card without hurting your credit score.

Do I have to pay for my credit report?

It depends. There are many free credit report resources available, but there are several that also charge fees. With so many free resources available, there really isn't any need to pay for your credit report. Just make sure you access your credit report through a verified site, such as those listed in this guide and sites that start with "https."

Learn more: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion Announce Free Weekly Credit Reports for a year.

How to get a free credit report

Annualcreditreport.com

Every year, you're entitled to one free credit report from each of the main credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. You can access these reports for free at annualcreditreport.com, which is authorized by federal law. We recommend you don't access all three reports at the same time, but instead space one report out every four months.

Update April 20, 2020: You can now receive 3 free credit reports each week for the next year

You can also receive reports from each individual bureau by going through their websites (or partner website, in the case of TransUnion). See more below:

CreditWise from Capital One

If you have a Capital One credit card, such as the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card or Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card, you may have come across CreditWise (which is open to everyone, even if you're not a Capital One cardholder).

CreditWise provides access to your free TransUnion credit report. After sign-up, you can receive email alerts whenever your TransUnion credit report changes, including recent inquiries, delinquent accounts and more. And when something meaningful changes on either your Experian or TransUnion credit report, CreditWise will send you an alert.

Experian

Experian offers a service that provides your free Experian credit report, updated every 30 days, after you create an account. You won't receive free copies of your Equifax or TransUnion report. If you want all three reports, Experian offers an all-inclusive package with credit reports from each bureau, but it costs $39.99. It doesn't make sense to pay for this when you can get credit reports for free.

With Experian's service, you can get notified when new inquiries, new accounts, fraud alerts and personal information or public record updates are detected on your Experian credit report. Plus, if you see inaccuracies on your credit report, you can use the Experian dispute center to submit and track your disputes online.

myEquifax

Equifax now offers two free Equifax credit reports per year with myEquifax. You need to create an account to access these credit reports. And if you sign up for Equifax Core Credit, you can receive an updated Equifax credit report every month.

Learn more: What is credit monitoring and does it protect you from fraud?

Information about the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card and Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the cards prior to publication.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.