How To Get Your Free Credit Score? Compare Best Sites.
A good credit score can lower your interest rates on car loans, mortgages, insurances, and more. Do you know your credit score?
Best free credit score websites
There are many reputable services offering credit scores for free. It’s a fast, easy and secure way to instantly acccess your scores online.
Simply register with your favorite website and provide some basic information about you (email address, ZIP code, etc.). You may be asked to provide your Social Security Number (SSN) in order to verify your identity.
Best free services offer all 3-bureau credit scores (FreeScore360.com, for example) but in most cases expect to receive just a one score.
|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 credit score
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.
Check your free 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:
Remember: There is no such thing as ‘free annual credit score’. By government law consumers can only get a free access to their three credit reports, not scores. To get your three scores for free use services like FreeScore360.
What is a credit score?
A credit score is a three-digit number that represents your creditworthiness. It can help lenders understand how risky it is to give you a loan.
The higher your score, the more trustworthy you are in the lender’s eyes. Higher scores get better loans, giving you more (and better) options for financing.
Your credit score is based on information from your credit report, which includes your current and past credit accounts and what your track record is with each of them.
Data from your credit report is compiled using a mathematical formula called a scoring model to create your final score.
Vantage Credit Score
Vantage scores are a collaboration between the three major credit bureaus – Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax – which is basically an attempt to break through the FICO credit scoring monopoly.
The current VantageScore model, VantageScore 3.0, uses the same score range as the FICO score (300-850). It’s calculated differently, though.
VantageScore is gaining more traction, mainly because big consumer credit websites (like Credit Sesame, Credit Karma and others) use this scoring model for their free credit score and credit monitoring products.
Educational Credit Scores
Educational scores are rarely, if ever, used by lenders to evaluate your creditworthiness.
Does that mean they’re completely useless?
You can still learn a lot from your educational score.
According to recent study conducted by Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, there is no big difference between FICO scores and educational scores.
For this study CFPB gathered and analyzed scores from 200,000 credit files from each of the major credit bureaus. Here’s what they found:
Most consumers, 80% (FICO vs Educational) were in the same score categories across the different scoring models. This means that the scores consumers receive will usually give them an accurate understanding of how creditors, using another scoring model, would perceive them.
The ‘big three’ credit bureaus use their educational credit scores to enroll customers into credit monitoring, privacy protection and other credit-related products.
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.
How is my credit score calculated?
Traditionally, your FICO credit scores 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 my credit scores are different?
This questions gets asked a lot.
Let me explain.
In the United States, there are three major companies, called credit bureaus, that deal with credit scores: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
Each of these credit bureaus does the same job – compiling your credit report and formulating your credit rating – but they each do them independently.
They each try to collect every piece of financial information from your former and current creditors, past employers, landlords, and other financial information.
But because they work independently of each other, there’s no guarantee that they’ll each collect all of the same information about you.
So even if all 3 credit bureaus use the exact same formula to calculate their version of your credit score, they might have different pieces of information, giving you 3 different credit scores.
For example: you might have a score of 720 with Experian, a 700 from Equifax, and a 730 from Trans Union.
These scores are all fairly close to each other, but the slight differences would happen because some bureaus would have more financial information about you than others.
In addition to working with potentially different sets of financial information about you, companies that produce your credit score might use a different formula, called a scoring model, to calculate your final score.
FICO and Vantage are the most popular credit scoring models, but there are many other options available, too.