The many offers out there for free credit scores even for people with bad credit rarely turn out to be free but in fact before applying for an auto loan consumers can do most of this on their own

What we know

Auto loan decisions, even for car shoppers with poor credit, are at least partially based on credit scores. But especially for those with less than perfect it can help to first check out all three credit reports before beginning the application process.

At Auto Credit Express know the difference this step can make because for more than two decades we've been matching applicants with questionable credit with those new car dealers that can offer them their best chances for car loan approvals.

Because these scores can often mean the difference between an approval and a denial of credit, it's no surprise that one of the questions we get asked most often is how to get a credit report without paying.

This also brings us to today's topic, those not so free credit scores.

Ads for credit reports

If you watch TV you've probably seen those commercials that promise a free credit score (an FTC ruling means they can no longer advertise for credit reports). Since score providers don't offer them for free, can this service (credit scores and credit reports) really be free and is this really too good to be true?

In other words, with the cost of this type of advertising being what it is these companies must be making money. So what's the catch?

The point of all this advertising is that these companies want you to visit their web sites so you'll sign up for additional paid services. Once there you'll be asked for your name, address, email address and phone number – information you must furnish even before you supply them with your Social Security Number. Throughout the process, you'll usually see a "special offers" box that you have to uncheck in order to opt-out.

Not only that, but your "free" credit score starts a trial period that, if not cancelled within a set period, could enroll you in a subscription service that automatically charges your debit or credit card each month.

If this is what you're looking for, so be it.

But there is one website where you can view and print your credit reports - one from each of the three credit bureaus that - won't cost you a dime.

How to get a credit report without paying

The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives consumers the right to access the information in their credit files. In 2003, another law (the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act or FACTA) went even further and requires each credit bureau, on request, to furnish consumers with one credit report per year at no charge, as well as access to their FICO scores for a reasonable fee (not free - but at least available).

This can be done in one of three ways: Consumers can contact each bureau in writing, via one of three a toll-free numbers, or they can visit this website:

Going the web site route entails furnishing information that establishes their identity and, once this is validated, they can immediately view and download their reports.

Once you know the score

If the credit reports show a history of bruised credit or the credit scores you pay for fall below a 640 FICO, there is something we want you to know: at Auto Credit Express our specialty is helping applicants find those car dealers that can give them their best opportunities for approved car loans.

So if you're ready to reestablish your car credit, you can begin now by filling out our online car loans application.