How I Use My Free Annual Credit Report (Hint: It May Not Be What You Think!)

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How I Use My Free Annual Credit Report (Hint:  It May Not Be What You Think!)

EmilyHow I Use My Free Annual Credit Report (Hint:  It May Not Be What You Think!)Million Mile Secrets Team

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Each year, I get a free copy of my credit report.  I go for my annual physical, and my financial health deserves the same level of attention.  A high credit score can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest fees over your life.  A low credit score will cost you.

I use my credit report as a detailed look at my financial health, to verify which credit cards I want to keep open, and decide which cards I may no longer use anymore.

Just Like I Go for an Annual Physical, I Also Go for My Annual Credit Tune-up

Get Your Free Credit Report

A credit report is an organized list of the information related to your credit activity.  You can get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company.  Credit reports may include:

  • A list of businesses that have given you credit or loans
  • The total amount for each loan or credit limit for each credit card
  • How often you paid your credit or loans on time, and the amount you paid
  • Any missed or late payments as well as bad debts
  • A list of businesses that have obtained your credit report within a certain time period
  • Your current and former names, address(es) and/or employers
  • Any bankruptcies or other public record information

Evaluate Credit Card Benefits

I jot down notes of the various credit card benefits.  For example, I get 1 free anniversary night with the Chase IHG Rewards card (no longer available), so I will keep that card because it makes up for the annual fee.

I also check the date opened to make sure I’m not closing any cards that I’ve had for a long time.  For example, the Chase Freedom® is a card I’ve had since 2006!

Cash in Unused Miles

When reading my credit report, I also noticed I had a US Bank FlexPerks card that I wasn’t using.  So, I decided to cash in my miles for gift cards.  Cashing miles in for gift cards usually isn’t the best idea, but it made sense for me because I didn’t see myself using the ~15,000 points or so I had left.

Check on My Loan Balances

I look at my loans to see how much money I can spend paying them back, and also evaluate the interest rates.  The loans with the highest interest rates get the highest pay-back priority.

Reviewing my annual credit report is a great way for me to get an overview of my credit health.

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Hey Emily, are there any advantages to doing this as opposed to using credit karma?


You get a much more detailed report using this website rather than on Credit Karma. Thanks for the question!