Not too long ago, the only way to get your free credit score was to sign up for a seven or 30-day trial. You had to enter your credit card, and if you forgot to cancel the membership, they started charging your card.
Today there are several ways to get your credit score for free without a credit card and without worrying about a trial membership expiring. My personal favorite is Credit Sesame, which I’ll talk about first. But there are several great options.
How to Get Your Free Credit Score
Credit Sesame is my favorite credit score website. In addition to being totally free (and no credit card required), it offers a wealth of information about your credit score and finances. Here’s a snapshot of my credit score from Credit Sesame:
Beyond the score, it provides details on what factors are affecting your score. These factors include payment history, credit usage, age of credit, account mix and credit inquires. Beyond your score, Credit Sesame also gives you insights into your debt, including mortgages and school loans.
Credit Karma offers a totally free credit score. You don’t need a credit card, and you can get your score in minutes online. Because I’m a bit crazy when it comes to my credit, I track my score with Credit Karma, too. It’s always a few points higher or lower than Credit Sesame, but usually in the same ballpark. Each member is allowed a free credit score every six months and Credit Karma is kind enough to email you when it’s time to check your credit score again for free.
One great feature is that you get instant access to your score. Credit Karma also gives you insight into what’s helping your score and what’s hurting it.
How to Get Your Official FICO Score
There are several ways to get access to your FICO score, some free, some with a small fee.
To get your official FICO score, myFICO is the place to go. It costs $29.95 a month. Yes, it’s expensive. But here’s what you get:
- Access a new 3-bureau credit report and 28 FICO® Scores every quarter—including the 19 FICO® Scores most widely used in mortgage, auto and credit card lending, and the newly released FICO® Score 9
- Track your FICO® Score 8 from each of the 3 credit bureaus on a historical tracking graph††
- Monitor changes to your credit reports from all 3 bureaus and get FICO Score 8 updates††
- Detect threats to your personal information with intelligent identity theft monitoring
- Restore your identity with expert identity theft features
Another options is Experian. For $1, you get access to your FICO score based on your Experian credit data.
Finally, there are several credit card issuers that provide free access to your FICO score. You can find a list here.
Side By Side Comparison
If you’re still not sure what’s the best option for you, here is a side-by-side comparison of the free credit score offers. I’ve used several of them, so you may want to try more than one to decide which one is best for you.
|Credit Score Offer||What You Get||Free Trial Period and Cost After Trial|
|Your official FICO® Score from each of the 3 credit bureaus||$29.95 per month.|
|Free credit score, report and report card|
|Credit Karma||Free credit score without a credit card|
The above offers provide your credit score as reported by one or more of the three major credit bureaus. But some of those scores do not use the FICO formula. This can be a bit confusing, and is worth a few moments to explain.
The credit bureaus have your credit information on file that they use to generate credit scores. Think of your credit report as containing all of the data that they put into their credit score formula to calculate a score.
Here’s where it gets a bit complicated. The credit bureaus don’t have just one credit score formula; they have many of them. Some of these formulas come from a company called Fair Isaac, better known as FICO. And just to confuse us some more, there is more than one FICO formula. None of the free offers provide an exact FICO score and unfortunately myFICO.com has discontinued their free trial program, so the only way to obtain your true FICO credit score is to pay for it.
While the credit score programs you see above use different formulas and produce different results, the credit scores from these formulas are still pretty close to one another. You won’t see one formula producing a score of 820 and another showing 530. So do you need your FICO score versus the other types of scores? Frankly, getting your FICO score versus the scores reported by the agencies has become less important. Why? Because the results are about the same, and they all give you a really good picture of the health of your credit.