We’ve been spending a lot of time with our credit report and credit score lately. Last month we compared FreeCreditReport.com to annualcreditreport.com to see where you should go to get your free credit report. Then we signed up for the myFICO.com Score Watch credit monitoring service, which gave us a copy of our Equifax credit report and FICO credit score. Now we are going to compare freecreditreport.com with myfico.com, both of which I’ve used in the past.
At first glance, these two services may seem comparable. As the image below from FreeCreditReport.com indicates, they offer consumers their free “Experian Credit Score” and credit report:
Likewise, myFICO.com offers consumers their FICO score and credit report. And if you read the fine print on both offers, you’ll see that you must sign up for credit monitoring service to get your free credit score and report. To avoid paying for the service, you need to cancel the credit monitoring program before the free trial period expires. So if you want your free credit score, does it really matter whether you choose freecreditreport.com or myfico.com? YES!
There are several key difference between the two, and myFICO.com is by far and away the better choice.
myFICO.com Has Real FICO Credit Scores
MyFICO.com is run my the Fair Isaac Corporation, the creator of the FICO credit score. When you sign up for Score Watch, myFICO.com gives you your official FICO score as reported by Equifax. Freecreditreport.com does not give you a FICO credit score. Instead, it gives you something it calls the Experian Credit Score. The problem is that creditors don’t use the Experian Credit Score to evaluate your credit; they use the official FICO Credit Score.
The other issue I have with freecreditreport.com is how they handle this issue on their website. In order to confirm that the credit score they give you is not an official FICO credit score, you have to dive deep into their online contract. In fact, you won’t find any mention of this on their home page at all. But if you you examine FreeCreditReport.com’s terms & conditions, you’ll find the following:
Products and credit resources on the Product Websites utilize the PLUS Score®. The PLUS Score®, developed by Experian, and the different risk levels presented by it, are for educational use only. The PLUS Score® is not currently sold to lenders, and is not an endorsement or guarantee of your credit worthiness as seen by lenders.
Please be aware that there are many scoring models used in the marketplace. Each scoring model may have its own set of factors and scale. The information and credit scoring model may be different than that used by a lender. The PLUS Score® may not be identical in every respect to any other credit score produced by another company or used by your lender. The PLUS Score® is not a so-called FICO score, and may differ for a variety of reasons.
For this reason alone, myFICO.com beats FreeCreditReport.com hands down.
Free Credit Monitoring Trial Period
The free trial period that both services offer (and how to cancel the free trial period) also favor myFICO.com. myFICO.com offers a 10-day free trial of Score Watch, while freecreditreport.com gives you just a 9-day free trial of what it calls Triple Advantage Credit Monitoring.
In addition, it’s a real pain to cancel FreeCreditReport.com’s Triple Advantage Credit Monitoring service. And I know this from experience. The first chore is just figuring out how to do it. It’s almost impossible to find on FreeCreditReport.com’s website information on how to cancel the free trial. And once again, you have to dive deep into the terms & conditions of their contract to figure out how to cancel the membership. Here’s what the agreement says:
Should you choose to discontinue your membership for any reason before expiration of the then applicable membership term for which you have paid, you may cancel your membership and terminate further billing by calling the toll-free number listed on this Web Site, or by calling 1-877-481-6826.
And who wants to have to call to cancel a membership? When you call, the freecreditreport.com representative will then try to persuade you to keep the Triple Advantage Credit Monitoring service, even offering to lower the price below $10. When we canceled our membership, it took me about 30 minutes, including the time to find out how to cancel and telling the representative we didn’t want the service at a lower price.
Canceling the myFICO.com free trial period is a lot easier. You can cancel online without speaking to a representative.
Cost of the Credit Monitoring Service
MyFICO.com is also significantly less expensive than FreeCreditReport.com, if you choose to continue with the credit monitoring service past the free trial. Score Watch at myFICO.com costs $14.95 per month after the 10-day free trial. Freecreditreport.com charges $19.99 for its Triple Advantage Credit Monitoring service. Both services provide the same thing, so why pay more?
And having used both services, I find myFICO.com to be the better user experience. It’s very easy to use, and the information about your credit score and credit report are presented in a logical, easy to understand fashion. So for me, myFICO.com is the clear winner if you want to get your free FICO credit score or want credit monitoring services. If you’ve used either service, leave a comment letting us know how it worked for you.
If you want to give MyFICO’s 10-day free trial a try, click here.
Published or updated February 5, 2013.