How to Get a Credit Score for Free
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Your credit score is one of the first things lenders look at to determine your creditworthiness. This score can have major implications on all financial aspects of your life, such as determining if you’ll qualify for a mortgage, and whether you can secure lower interest rate loans.
Because of this, you should always know what your credit score is. Yet, trying to find your credit score is not always straightforward. Where can you find your credit score, and how can you find it for free? In this article, we’ll provide an overview of how to view your credit score and the best ways to do so.
Do You Need to Pay to See Your Credit Score?
The most direct way to get your FICO credit score is by going to FICO’s website and purchasing a plan. The main advantage of this is that you’ll get a broad and reliable view of all your scores and credit reports. However, the obvious disadvantage of this is that you have to pay for this service. Luckily, there are ways around this.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act
The Fair Credit Reporting Act was passed in 1970. It contains multiple provisions, but the important one to know is that you have a right to see your own credit reports for free.
Credit Score vs. Credit Report
Your credit score and your credit report are two different things:
Your credit score is a number between 300-850 used to determine creditworthiness. A higher score is better.
Your credit report contains a record of loans that you’ve taken out and your payment history.
Why is this important? Your credit score is calculated based on your credit report, but reports often don’t include your score. Thus, while The Fair Credit Reporting Act grants you the right to receive a free credit report each year from each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax), you probably won’t find your scores there.
How Can I Check My Credit Score For Free?
If your free credit reports do not contain your credit score, then where else can you look? In general, you have access to two major sources where you may be able to find your credit score for free:
Credit card companies
Third-party sites and services
6 Credit Card Companies That Provide Free Credit Scores
If you own a credit card from a major bank, chances are you may be able to find your score from there. This is a great option if you’re trying to avoid signing up for a new service to see your scores.
When viewing your credit scores, note that different credit card companies may base their scores on different credit reports. This is why you may see a discrepancy between scores if you use multiple credit cards.
Discover Card customers automatically get access to their FICO Score, which is listed on each monthly statement. This score is calculated based on data from your TransUnion credit report.
Note that if your credit history is too new, or you have not logged into your Discover account for 180 days, your score may not show up.
Barclaycard was one of the first major credit card issuers to offer their cardmembers free FICO scores. Your score will be included in your monthly statements.
A nice additional feature is that Barclaycard will have charts showing your credit score history over the last 12 months. This is a great way to quickly check if your score is moving in the right direction.
Bank of America
Similar to Discover cardmembers, Bank of America credit card holders also have access to a monthly FICO score calculated based on your TransUnion credit report.
You can also take advantage of Bank of America’s Better Money Habits, which offers FAQs, tips, and resources to help you stay on track financially.
Citibank cardmembers have access to a monthly FICO Score through their Citi Online portal. Under the Card Benefits tab, you’ll find your FICO score which is calculated based on your Equifax report.
Chase offers a feature called Chase Credit Journey, which allows users to track their credit score for free. Note that the score you’ll see is your VantageScore 3.0, which is different from your official FICO score. Still, VantageScore 3.0 is a very accurate estimate of your actual credit score.
You don’t need to be a Chase cardholder to use this feature. In addition, Chase Credit Journey personalizes your experience and provides insights on how to improve your score.
Similar to Chase Credit Journey, Capital One offers a feature called CreditWise which provides your VantageScore 3.0 for free. You also do not have to be a Capital One cardmember to enjoy this feature.
CreditWise has a number of useful features, including a simulator which can estimate how your financial decisions will impact your credit score.
The Best Sites to Check Your Credit Score for Free
In addition to credit card companies, there are a number of excellent third-party sites that provide free credit score monitoring services.
While credit card companies are great for viewing your score for free, they are almost always based on one credit report only. In contrast, many of these third-party sites offer a more comprehensive look at your credit score based on multiple credit reports.
Credit Karma is one of the most popular credit monitoring services on the market. From the main dashboard, you’ll see your VantageScore 3.0 from TransUnion and Equifax reports for free, updated weekly.
Credit Karma presents information about your credit score in a way that’s easy to understand. It shows you how certain factors, such as average credit age, credit usage, and payment history ultimately impact your score. This way, you’ll have a better sense of how to improve your score, as well as reminders to pay off bills and other debts.
Based on your current credit score, Credit Karma will also recommend financial products to you. As your score improves, this could mean credit cards with better rewards, or opportunities to refinance an existing loan.
Credit Sesame’s vision is to help people improve their credit health and finances. This is reflected in their product, which allows users to view their VantageScore 3.0 for free from TransUnion, updated monthly.
One of Credit Sesame’s best features is the personalized advice they offer all users. Credit Sesame takes into account your credit score and all existing loans to provide financial advice, such as how much you should aim to save every month.
Another key feature from Credit Sesame is their Identity Theft Protection, which offers $1 million worth of fraud insurance for free. This can help protect you from financial loss due to identity theft.
Credit.com is another third-party site where users can see their Experian credit score for free, updated every 14 days.
Credit.com may have fewer overall features compared to Credit Karma and Credit Sesame, but many users enjoy their Credit Report Cards feature. Credit.com assigns you a letter grade for five categories: payment history, debt usage, credit age, account mix, and credit inquiries. This helps you figure out exactly what you need to work on to improve your score.
WalletHub is the only third-party service that not only shows your VantageScore 3.0 from TransUnion for free, but updates it daily. Thus, if you’re curious what your credit score is on any given day, WalletHub probably has the closest estimate.
WalletHub comes with a variety of features to boost your credit score and help you better manage your money. One example is WalletHub Answers, a forum where you can freely ask money-related questions and receive community responses. Also try the WalletLiteracy test, which measures your overall understanding of money and finances.
NerdWallet is perhaps best known for its reviews of banks and credit cards. However, users with a NerdWallet account can view their VantageScore 3.0 from TransUnion for free.
Apart from credit monitoring, NerdWallet offers features to help you track your income, expenses, and upcoming bills. This is handy for viewing all your financials in one place and seeing your net worth change over time.
It’s important to always keep an eye on your credit score. Nowadays, you can access your score pretty easily if you know where to look. In this article, we’ve offered 11 such places to get your credit score for free.
If you are already a cardmember with any of the major credit card companies, you should be able to view your credit score for free without any additional signups. Alternatively, you can sign up for a third-party service, which generally provides more insight into what goes into your score and how it can be improved. In any case, take advantage of at least one of these services to get your free credit score today.
When doing research, Credit Help Info relies on credible and authoritative sites. These research sources are provided so that you can see exactly where we get our information.
About the Author
Chris Morgan is a credit expert and founder of Credit Help Info. He has been featured in Addition Financial, GOBankingRates, MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, and many other publications. He has read hundreds of books and resources on finance and the credit industry. Because he did this, you don’t have to. As a school teacher for over 20 years, Chris enjoys taking complicated material and breaking it down into manageable information that’s easy to understand.