The Best Way To Check Your Free Credit Score in 2017?
A good credit score can help you get lower interest rates on car loan, mortgage, insurance, and more. This three digit number is the key to your financial success.
There are many ways to get your free scores. In this article we will cover every option available on the market today (updated for January 2017).
Free Credit Score Websites
This is the easiest and fastest way to check your credit score. It takes just a few clicks to sign up online and see your latest credit scores.
You may find services that offer all 3-bureau credit scores (FreeScore360.com, for example) but in most cases expect to receive just a one score.
Now relax, give yourself some time and check out all websites listed below. I’m sure you will find a service that meets your needs. Go ahead, click around!
|FreeScore360||Experian, Equifax, TransUnion|
Scores you receive from these websites can give you a very good idea of your creditworthiness. However, you need to know these are rarely used by lenders. Most financial institutions in United States prefer and use FICO scores.
To see your FICO scores online visit myFICO.com. This is the official FICO website where you can buy an individual bureau’s score for $19.95 each (or get all three of them for a more complete picture). You can also opt-in for a 3-bureau credit monitoring service priced at $29.95 per month. Make sure to cancel your subscription when you no longer need it.
FICO Score 8 from Experian is also available at FreeCreditScore.com and Discover’s CreditScorecard.com. Both sites are absolutely free, without trial membership, and should not ask you for a credit card number.
Free FICO scores from credit card companies
Most credit card issuers now give you free access to your FICO scores, updated every 30 days. You should be able to see your score on your monthly credit card statement, online bank account, or mobile app.
There are many different versions of FICO scores. Today, in 2016, the FICO Score 8 is the most popular among lenders. This table gives you an idea of which scores are available where.
|American Express||FICO 8||Experian|
|Bank of America||FICO 8||TransUnion|
|Barclaycard US||FICO 8||TransUnion|
|Citi||FICO Bankcard 8||Equifax|
|Commerce Bank||FICO 8||Any|
|First National Bank||FICO Bankcard 8||Experian|
|Wells Fargo||FICO Bankcard 2||Experian|
Contact your bank if it’s not on the list above. According to Market Watch, more than 100 million U.S. bank accounts also offer regular access to FICO scores with no extra charge.
How is my credit score calculated?
Traditionally, your FICO credit scores range from 300 to 850 and factor in five major components.
You can see that each component has its own level of importance.
For instance, someone with very little payment history can still have a great credit score, depending on how the rest of their report looks.
But large negatives in any one category may also drag the total score down.
The way credit scores are calculated is a bit of a mystery, and it can be confusing if you have any bumps or missing pieces in your credit history.
Just remember that credit scores are only a reflection of your credit report, which gives the full picture of your creditworthiness.
Let’s take a closer look at the large range of financial activity that factors into your credit score.
Payment History. This is the first thing any potential lender wants to know.
Do you pay your other credit accounts on time? This includes credit cards, installment loans, mortgage payments, and the like. When it comes to late payments, your credit score takes into account the total amount owed, how late the payments were, how many occurred, and how long ago they happened.
Serious negative factors such as collection items, foreclosures, liens, wage garnishments, and bankruptcies also get lumped into this part of the credit score calculation.
Amounts Owed. Credit scores look at the amounts you owe and how your debt factors into your overall financial picture.
This means they take into account the total amount of money you owe to all creditors, how far into the loan you are, and how much of your available credit is in use.
For example, you might have a $20,000 credit card limit, but if you’re only carrying $3,000 on that card and you have $0 balances on your other cards, you’ve got a lot of available credit. But if you’re carrying $17,000 of that $20,000 limit and no other credit cards, you’re in a much different position.
Looking at your amounts owed and comparing them to your total available credit (also called your credit utilization ratio) helps lenders avoid those whom they might judge as ‘overextended.’
Obviously, a low credit utilization ratio sends a better message than a high credit utilization ratio.
Length of Credit History. Longer credit history has a positive impact on credit scores.
Though a lengthy credit history isn’t necessarily required for a high score, factors such as the age of your oldest account, the average age of your open accounts, and even how long it has been since you used certain accounts contribute to your final credit score.
In many cases, the best advice is to leave your oldest accounts open. If you only use them once or twice a year, your credit scores will benefit. Closed accounts do show up your credit report and might contribute to a higher score for a while, but their significance fades over time. It’s better to keep them open.
Credit Mix. Credit diversity plays a different role for different creditors and is more important when your credit report has less total information.
The more types of credit accounts you successfully maintain, the better. However, be sure that you only open accounts that you will actually use. The use of credit cards, installment loans, mortgages, and even retail accounts can factor into your final score.
New Credit. Lenders pay close attention to new credit, especially for those without a lengthy credit history.
Research shows that opening multiple accounts over a short period of time presents greater risk. In fact, just having multiple credit inquiries over a short time can impact your score as well.
Spacing inquiries close together (2-3 weeks max) usually gets treated as a single inquiry, as you aren’t punished for shopping around. Just make sure you don’t seem to be perpetually shopping for new credit. Lenders want to see planned, responsible financial decisions.
Why should I check my credit score?
Your credit score is a major factor in the decisions your potential lenders will make about the loans they’ll offer you. For that reason, knowing your credit score and how it works will empower you to make better decisions and access better financial options now and in the years ahead.
One thing you need to know: your credit score doesn’t stay the same. Because your financial situation changes from month to month and year to year (as you acquire and pay off debt), your credit score will also change.
If you have never borrowed money you probably don’t have a credit history yet. Learn here how to build your credit from zero.
Checking your credit score is never a once-and-done thing. You need to check it periodically, especially when you’re considering a major change like buying a new car or buying a new house.
Your score is used as an indicator of “creditworthiness” by the institutions who evaluate you financially to offer you a loan, housing, etc. This means that your credit score has a direct impact on some significant aspects of your life.
Let’s take a look at some of those aspects now:
Loan Approval. Even if this is your first time doing credit score research, you probably know that your credit scores are used by banks and other lending agencies to make decisions about you as an applicant.
Because your credit score is based on your financial history, including how much debt you currently have and what your payment history is, lenders consider your credit score a good indication of whether or not you’ll pay back their loan.
If you’re considered a “safe” risk, you’ll have access to better loans. This may mean greater amounts of money, loans with low interest rates, or both.
Typical loans include mortgages, car loans, and personal loans. Anything you’d have to make a payment on is a loan.
Reputable lenders require a good credit history to loan large sums of money.
For those with poor credit and a low credit score, the only options are less reputable lenders like payday lenders, pawn shops, or “instant approval” loans.
If you have to depend on a lessor creditor (ie. “no credit check required”), you can be sure that you will pay much more over the life of the loan.
On the other hand, great credit results in lending agencies competing for your business and offering you some great loans.
Interest Rates. High credit scores generally equate to lower interest rates. Lenders save their best loans (the ones with low interest rates) for those who are sure to pay them back.
What this means for you is that the better your credit score is, the less you’ll pay in interest over time (and the more money you’ll keep in your pocket).
But if you’ve got bad credit, you may be stuck with a bad loan, and you’ll pay significantly more over time for the same amount of borrowed money.
Let’s give a couple of examples to show just how important your interest rate is.
Insurance. While loans get the most attention in the credit score discussion, they aren’t the only thing in your life affected by your credit scores. Home and auto insurance companies also use your credit scores to help determine how much you’ll pay in premiums and other fees.
If a company decides that you are unlikely to make consistent payments, your fees and premiums will be higher. This seems counterintuitive because it will make the payments harder to make, but that’s the way the company protects itself.
For them, charging more up front or on a monthly basis results in more of your money in their pockets if you do stop making payments prematurely. As unfair as it seems, without this system, insurance companies would have a hard time staying in business.
As a result, the best thing you can do for yourself is to work on increasing your credit score. Companies will trust you to make the payments you owe, making it easier for them to offer you lower payments.
Occupation. Depending on your career path, employers may look into your credit scores as a measure of how responsible you might be. Accountants, loan originators, military personnel, those in government positions, and even parking booth operators may be subject to credit checks.
If you handle money, those above you in the management ladder need to be able to trust that you can make responsible decisions with it.
And More. Beyond these things, there are many other instances where you credit scores are likely to play a major factor.
Cell phone service, furniture rentals, apartment leases, and a variety of other agreements to make regular payments might require you to have a certain level of credit in order to get approved.
Your credit scores affect your lifestyle on the whole, which is exactly why it is so important to first understand your scores and second to do your best to maintain a high score.
Check your credit report
Your credit score is important, but ultimately it’s just a reflection of your credit report.
The best thing you can do to understand your credit score and your overall financial standing is to check your credit report regularly.
We recommend doing it every 4 months, with each bureau, to stay updated. This video will show you how to get your TransUnion credit report for free: