You know you need to have a great credit score. But how can you get your credit score for free?
Having a good credit score will open all sorts of financial doors for you. It’s fairly well-known that your credit score means a lot when you are applying for loans. If you want to get approved for a loan, you need a good score. If you want the best interest rates, you need a great score.
Having a good credit score will save you a ton in interest charges.
You can save hundreds, or even thousands, over the life of your loan. Whether you are applying for a mortgage, an auto loan, or a credit card, good credit is essential if you want to be approved on the best terms.
You should also realize that your credit score can be used for other purposes as well.
- Some insurers check your credit to help determine your insurance premium. Some Internet, cable, satellite, and cell phone providers want to have a peek at your credit score before approving you.
If you don’t have a good score, you might have to pay a security deposit.
- Landlords are also increasingly interested in your credit score, and might charge a higher deposit if your credit is suspect (or not let you rent at all).
- And, finally, even though employers aren’t supposed to be able to check your credit score, they might want to look at your credit report as part of the screen process.
As you can see, even if you aren’t planning to borrow, your credit score can have an impact on your finances.
As a result, it’s a good idea to be informed about your credit score. This way you can make sure it’s as high as possible, and if it isn’t, you can work on improving your credit score.
The good news is that you can get access to your credit score for free.
Different Credit Scores
First, you should realize that there are different credit scoring models.
The most common models are based on FICO scores. The Fair Isaac Company created a credit scoring model that can be tweaked by different credit bureaus. TransUnion and Equifax both use versions of the FICO score.
Additionally, the three credit bureaus also came up with a rival scoring system called the VantageScore. Rather than going from 300 to 850, like the FICO score, the VantageScore runs from 501 to 990. The VantageScore claims to be a little friendlier toward those who use credit a little more infrequently.
However, the FICO score, and different variations of it, are the most popular bases for credit scoring.
It is also worth noting that TransUnion offers the TransRisk Score.
This score is meant to be a consumer score. It is supposed to be a guide that can help consumers understand their creditworthiness.
Experian also offers a PLUS Score, ranging from 330 to 830, as a measure of your credit worthiness.
Equifax also offers a score based on the information in your credit report. However, Equifax doesn’t have as many different versions, nor does the company offer its score through various outlets.
However, your TransRisk Score or PLUS Score might not closely match the FICO score in some cases. So, while it can be a helpful guide, lenders will be more interested in your FICO score, which, when pulled by most lenders, is simply an average of your credit information from the major credit bureaus.
Get Your Credit Score for Free
Free Credit Scores: No Strings Attached
Thanks to a law that took effect in the summer of 2011, you are allowed to have a free peek at your credit score if it results in an “adverse” action.
So, if you are denied credit, or if you have to pay a higher interest rate, or if you insurance rates go up, and the reason is a credit score, you have the right to see what that score is.
You have 60 days to request the information from the credit score provider, in writing, if you want a free copy of your score.
But, other than that, there are additional ways to see your credit score for free.
You should understand, though, that there are different scoring models.
Each credit bureau has its own, different, way of figuring credit scores. As a result, you have multiple scores.
The score you get for free at a web site may not be the same score that any given lender might use to determine your credit worthiness (it’s usually not a FICO score). However, checking your score on a free site can be a good way to monitor your progress, and get a general idea of where you stand.
Here are some of the places you can go to get a truly free credit score:
- Credit Karma: CreditKarma.com offers you access to your TransRisk Score, as well as peek at your VantageScore. You don’t have to pay for this access; instead, Credit Karma receives money from advertisers, and commissions if you apply for loans and credit cards through the site.
- Credit Sesame: CreditSesame.com provides you with your credit score from Experian, and also offers you access to other helpful information.
- Quizzle: Quizzle.com is another site that offers a free credit score, and credit report, from Experian.
The great thing about these credit score sources is that you don’t have to provide a credit card in order to get information about your credit score. (Although, if you want, you can pay for other services offered via these sites.)
This may not be the most accurate score, but you can monitor your credit performance for free. Again, this is great to help you monitor your score for changes or to see if there are problem areas to address.
Free Credit Score — When You Sign Up for a Service
In some cases, you will be offered a free credit score, as part of a credit monitoring service.
Many of these services will offer you a free trial, usually for seven to 14 days.
Normally you will have to provide a credit card number, so you need to be careful, and understand what you are signing up for before you go for it. And you will have to remember to cancel before your free trial is up, or your “free” credit score will suddenly be a lot less free (a great way to remember is to set up reminders in Google Calendar).
Here are some of the sites that offer access to free scores if you sign up for a service:
- TransUnion: TransUnion offers a free 7-day trial that includes credit monitoring and unlimited acces to a credit score. Be sure to cancel within seven days, though, or your credit card will be charged a monthly fee of $16.95. See all of your data in one dashboard t monitor your credit. You will also get personalized analysis of your debt and credit. Click to sign up for their free trial here.
- Equifax: Equifax has a suite of products that offer up everything from credit report monitoring to ID theft assistance and insurance to privacy monitoring; and of course your credit score as well. The plans range from $17.95 (Basic) to $29.99 (Family), per month. Click here for their products.
- GoFreeCredit: GoFreeCredit, offers up a free 14-day trial membership. After that the monthly fee is $17.99. You get daily monitoring of your Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion credit files and alerts and alerts to key changes to your account.
- FreeCreditScore: Again, a seven-day trial is included, and you get access to your credit score from FreeCreditScore. The monthly fee is $14.95.
- IdentityLookout: It’s not exactly free, since it will cost you $1, but IdentityLookout offers a seven-day trial to give it a go, and allows you access to your credit information. This is a service offered by Experian.
You can also sign up for a service like LifeLock, that will monitor your identity information, and allow you access to credit monitoring on top of it — with access to your TransUnion credit score anytime. You will pay between $10 and $25 a month for the service (or get a discount for paying for a year at a time).
Checking Your FICO Score
And of course, if you are really serious about seeing something much closer to what lenders will look at when evaluating you, you can check with myFICO.com.
You will get access to scores from different credit bureaus, as well as information about what goes into your credit score, you can visit this site. Additionally, you will be able to sign up for credit monitoring if you want. This will allow you to keep tabs on your score if you wish.
They are currently offering a 10-day free trial to their Score Watch® which will give you your FICO score and credit report instantly (after the free trial it’s $14.95 a month for the service).
It is also worth noting that you can visit the web sites of each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to pay for a three-in-one credit report, and sometimes even get access to the credit scores from each of the bureaus — although most of the time you will pay for the three credit reports and get the score from the offering bureaus only.
Which is Your Real Score?
In the end, you have several different scores.
Most lenders will use your FICO score to approve you, although some use a different version of the score than what you will see, as a consumer, when you check your score.
Your only real option is to ask lenders, when they check your credit, what scoring model they use, and whether or not you can know your score. Many lenders are willing to tell you what your score is when you apply for a loan, especially if you are applying for a mortgage or car loan in person.
Just be aware that one lender might use a different version than another. No two credit scores are the same.
Being able to get your credit score for free allows you to monitor your score and correct any problems areas you might find.
Remember – a great credit score can save you thousands!