Advertiser Disclosure

How to Unfreeze Your Credit for Free

Contact each credit bureau online to lift your credit freeze quickly.
Oct. 5, 2018
Credit Score, Personal Finance
NerdWallet adheres to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Some of the products we feature are from partners. Here’s how we make money.
We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

If you placed a credit freeze, you may want to reopen your credit files at some point to apply for a new car loan or credit card.

You have to unfreeze your credit with each credit bureau individually, unless you know which credit bureau a creditor is using and choose to thaw just that one. Unfreezing (and/or refreezing) is free now, thanks to federal law.

With the new law, you no longer need PINs, or personal identification numbers, to thaw your credit at two bureaus: TransUnion and Equifax. They now require that you set up accounts to freeze or unfreeze online. (If your account was already frozen and you were issued a PIN, you’ll be directed to establish a password-protected account with the credit bureau to manage your freeze.)

Experian will still require a PIN to unfreeze your file.

Here’s how to unfreeze your credit with Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.


How to unfreeze credit with Equifax

You can lift a security freeze on your Equifax credit report online by creating a “myEquifax” account. A PIN is no longer needed for online freezing or unfreezing. Equifax allows you to unfreeze your credit temporarily for a specific creditor or for a specified period, from one day to one year. You can also permanently unfreeze credit, which NerdWallet does not recommend.

You will need a PIN if you choose to lift or reinstate a freeze by phone or mail.

Contact info: Equifax; Equifax Security Freeze, P.O. Box 105788, Atlanta, GA 30348; 800-685-1111 (New York residents, 800-349-9960).

How to unfreeze credit with Experian

Experian still requires a PIN to unfreeze your credit.

You can request that a freeze be lifted for a specific time; there’s no maximum. The online form warns, however, that you can’t change the date range for the freeze lift once you’ve submitted it.

Experian also offers a single-use PIN that can help ensure your information is seen only by a creditor you authorize, so it isn’t exposed needlessly. Experian gives you the PIN, and you give it to the entity checking your credit.

Contact info: Experian; Experian Security Freeze, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013; 888-397-3742.

How to unfreeze credit with TransUnion

For online freeze lifts, you may need to sign up for a new TransUnion account with a username and password. You no longer need a PIN.

You can lift the freeze for one to 30 days, beginning on a start date you pick. You can lift the freeze for a time or for certain creditors for whom you can create an access code to be used during a limited time. This differs from Experian’s single-use code because it can give multiple creditors access to your file during the time window.

Contact info: TransUnion; TransUnion LLC, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016, 888-909-8872.

What are my choices for unfreezing credit?

You can temporarily lift a credit freeze in two ways:

  • Lift a freeze for a certain number of days. You might do this if you’re shopping for a mortgage or car loan or applying for a credit card.
  • Allow access to a specific creditor.

If you are applying for a loan, you may be able to ask the lender which credit bureau will be used and unfreeze only that one.

Permanently lifting a credit freeze is also an option, but NerdWallet doesn’t recommend giving up the protections a freeze gives you. Temporarily lifting a freeze occasionally is much less trouble than unwinding the effects of identity theft.

About the author