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Are Free Credit Reports Really Worth Anything?


Many companies advertise that they will give you a free credit report making you think that you are actually getting your FICO score.  Think again.

You will probably get a VantageScore instead of  FICO score. They are not the same.  It's better than nothing but if your goal is to prepare yourself for shopping for a mortgage, you need to have the same score as your lender.  Lenders use FICO scores from Fair Issac Company.   

Also, your free credit report from Annual Credit does not give you any kind of credit score.  It just gives you a report with all of the information that's at the credit bureaus. 

If you want the real deal, the same number that your mortgage lender will be looking at, you need to buy the scores at . The three scores will cost you $59.85.  There are three credit bureaus that use the same FICO scoring system.  They differ slightly because each credit bureau doesn't have exactly the same information.   Usually a lender will use the score in the middle as the one to base your pricing on.  

I highly recommend getting your scores before you apply for a mortgage so you know where you stand.  If you are just below the cutoff for the next price break in rates you can try to increase your scores a few points.  Sometimes just a few points makes a big difference in rates.  If you aren't using the same scoring system as the lenders use, it's difficult to know exactly where you stand.

Fortunately, there's a way to actually get all FICO scores for free if you have the right credit cards.

The Discover Card   gives you your FICO score from TransUnion

The Chase Card gives you your FICO score from Experian

The Citi Card gives you your FICO score from Equifax

If you don't have those cards already, it might not be good for your credit score if you went out and opened up three new credit card accounts just to avoid paying for the reports at

Credit card companies will make a inquiry to your credit which will show up and negatively affect your score.  When you check your credit score by buying your report, it does not count against you.

If you just want a general idea of how good your credit is, use the free sites that give you a score that is similar to the FICO score but isn't exactly the same. offers your VantageScore 3.0  which is based on your TransUnion  and Equifax data. offers the Experian National Equivalency Score which is based on the Experian data. gives you a  credit score from Experian plus a VantageScore 3.0 gives you a VantageScore and a credit report from Equifax.

Once you find out your credit scores you can decide if there's anything you can do to get you the best rates.  Usually a good loan officer will be able to analyze your credit report and give you some recommendations on what to do to gain a few points.  Sometimes they have a credit score simulator and can simulate what your credit score might be after some changes.  Instead of waiting a month for the changes to take effect,  they can do a rapid rescore to get your credit scores updated in a few days.


Tim Maitski
Atlanta Communities



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Our market area is in the north metro Atlanta area.  We service Cobb County, north Fulton County, Dekalb County, Forsyth County and Gwinnett County.  We are very familiar with Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Marietta, Roswell, Alpharetta, Buckhead, and Midtown. 

We have sold homes inside the perimeter and outside the perimeter.  We can't know everything so for clients who want to look for property in Peachtree City, Newnan, Stone Mountain, Douglasville, Macon and areas further out we will gladly recommend a good agent who specializes in those areas.

We help buyers negotiate with builders for residential new construction houses. New houses in Atlanta are hot right now. We can represent you in the purchase of your new house built by any of the following builders: Torrey Homes, MDC Homes, Centex Homes, Pulte Homes, Morrison Homes, Ryland Homes, John Wieland Homes, Winmark Homes, Meridian Homes, John Willis Homes, Benchmark Homes and many more home builders.

We can help clients find short term apartments for rent but normally we don't work with clients who are just looking for rentals.  We do help clients find Atlanta condos.  We can also help you purchase HUD homes in Atlanta.  We are an authorized agent with them and have the HUD key to get into HUD homes.  We have access to foreclosure homes that banks want to sell.

We love showing executive homes and luxury homes. We always like to know how people find our site.  Send us an email and tell us which search term you used. Some terms that we might be found by are realty Atlanta, Ga homes, Atlanta realty, condos Atlanta, Atlanta realestate, Atlanta property, houses Atlanta, Atlanta realtors, Ga houses, or realtors Atlanta.  Maybe you found us by typing in Atlanta MLS listings, or Atlanta MLS search, or MLS Atlanta GA. Hopefully we don't come up under nursing homes or funeral homes.

It is always amazing to me how the Internet can allow total strangers to find each other and build new business relationships.  It truly is becoming a small, interconnected world.


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All information about homes from the Atlanta MLS home search engine is input by thousands of individual real estate agents throughout Atlanta and is made available through a service called ListingBook. We provide access to this data for the convenience of our clients.  We have no control over this database.  All information on this web site is copyrighted and intellectual property of It is deemed to be current and accurate, but is not warranted. 2002. Tim is a licensed Realtor with Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage.

Tim Maitski is a member of the Atlanta Board of Realtors