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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.
How to Get Your Free Credit Score
1. Credit Karma
Credit Karma offers a totally free credit score. You don’t need a credit card, and you can get your score in minutes online. 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.
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 report 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 option is Experian. You get your Experian credit report and FICO score when you sign up for Experian’s Score Tracker. You get a 7-day free trial.
With TransUnion, you get your FICO score and report for $1.
Finally, there are several credit card issuers that provide free access to your FICO score. You can find a list here.
5. Discover Scorecard
Even if you’re not a Discover customer, you can sign up for a free Scorecard account. This option will provide you with your Experian FICO score. You’ll get your actual numerical score, as well as a grade that compares your score to the rest of the U.S.
Discover’s Scorecard will give you access to the various aspects of your score, including your open accounts, length of credit history, credit utilization, and missed payments. It’ll tell you what’s helping and what, if anything, is hurting your score. Discover offers several financial products, including personal loans. The scorecard will tell you if you might qualify for a lower-interest personal loan, which you could use to refinance higher-interest debt.
6. Your Credit Card Company
More credit card companies are now jumping on the free credit score bandwagon. Your statement or online account may come with access to a free credit score. Some card companies, like Capital One, even offer a credit simulator tool, where you can “try out” different credit decisions to see how they could impact your score.
Credit card companies currently offering their customers free credit scores include Discover, Citi, Chase, Bank of America, Barclaycard, Commerce Bank, American Express, Capital One, First Bankcard, USAA Bank, US Bank, and the Walmart Credit Card.
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 top free credit score offers.
|myFICO||Your official FICO® Score from each of the 3 credit bureaus||$29.95 per month|
|Credit Karma||Free credit score without a credit card||No cost|
|Experian||Experian credit report and FICO score||7-day free trial|
|Transunion||Credit report and FICO score||$1|
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 its 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.