Although you didn’t ask to have your credit analyzed, the fact is that you have a credit score. The information gathered by the three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — is used by lenders everywhere to determine your creditworthiness. As such a crucial aspect of your financial life, it stands to reason that you want to check your credit score for free.
Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion use personal financial data to create your FICO credit score, which directly impacts your ability to get loans or reasonable interest rates on loans. Fortunately, it’s not so hard to find out how to check your credit score for free, and we’ve got the best free credit score options below.
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- Checking your credit score regularly is wise because it can alert you to potential fraud and keep you on track with payments.
- There are different types of credit scores, the two main personal ones are the FICO Score and VantageScore.
- It’s easier than ever to check your credit score for free with FICO itself or credit monitoring bureaus
- Your credit score is different from your credit report, although you should monitor both of them for optimum security.
Why are credit scores important?
First, you should recognize the importance of credit scores. Your credit score indicates to banks, credit card companies, and other lenders how much of a lending risk you are. And while people may go years without thinking about their credit score, that can be a costly oversight. If you wait until it’s time to apply for a mortgage or make a purchase that requires a loan, you could end up paying much more in interest — or worse, not qualifying for the loan at all.
Your credit score is a number, usually between 300 and 850, that helps lenders decide whether to offer you a loan. It also impacts the interest rate you’ll be charged. A high credit score improves chances for favorable financing terms, potentially saving thousands on major loans.
Check your credit score for free with FICO
FICO an industry standard, is used by 90% of top lenders for lending decisions, while VantageScore is another major model. Luckily, FICO is also one of the best free credit score platforms.
Simply use the FICO website to sign up for free access to your FICO Score 8. The service will also tell you what credit score range you fall into Exceptional (800-850), Very Good (740-799), Good (670-739), Fair (580-669), or Poor (300-579).
The free plan also provides free Equifax credit monitoring as well as one free credit report from Equifax each month. And there’s no need to worry that you’ll suddenly be charged without warning. This plan automatically renews at $0 per month, and you don’t need to provide credit card information.
Credit monitoring means that your FICO account keeps an eye on your credit at all times. It doesn’t mean all transactions or data are monitored. It’s an extra layer of security for your finances and you’ll be notified of changes so you can investigate anything out of the ordinary.
Check your FICO credit score for free at Experian
Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, also has a free credit score service. The credit score you’ll be able to see is your FICO score, and you’ll also receive a free credit report from Experian with your free account.
As with the FICO free credit score, there’s no credit card required to sign up for Experian’s free credit score. You can find out about any specific events or transactions affecting your credit score, examine your credit report for any new activity, and monitor your credit for signs of identity theft and errors.
Check your free VantageScore with Credit Karma
Credit Karma also offers free credit scores to those who sign up. However, the score you see from Credit Karma will be a bit different from those at FICO and Experian. That’s because Credit Karma doesn’t provide FICO scores. Instead, the fintech platform provides your VantageScore 3.0 score from two of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax and TransUnion.
You may check your VantageScore as often as you wish without fear of impacting your credit score. The number will fall between 300 and 850, just like FICO. Although more lenders may use FICO scores to make lending decisions, checking your VantageScore will also give you a decent idea of your credit health.
Credit cards and banks with free credit scores
You can access free credit scores from any number of banks and credit card issuers, along with other financial platforms. FICO scores are more frequently offered to credit card holders, while VantageScores tend to be more accessible to anyone who signs up for the free service.
|Bank or issuer
|Credit score type
|Who is eligible
|Bank of America
|FICO Score 9
As consumers become more and more aware of their financial situations and the threat of fraud, more financial institutions may continue to add free credit scores as a perk of membership. Be sure to look at your bank or credit card issuer's app to see if there's any credit score access available. You can also check agreements with your bank or card company to find out if you’re entitled to this benefit.
What to do after checking your credit score?
Of course, there’s not much to gain from checking your credit score if you don’t know what to do with that information. Understand the importance of a higher credit score; grasp the basics and strategies to enhance your credit score effectively.
Whether you’re monitoring your credit more carefully because of plans to buy a house or car soon, or simply out of the desire to be more aware, be prepared to make changes. If your credit score is lower than you’d like, there are steps to raising it.
Most urgently, be sure to look for any suspicious activity, such as loan applications you didn’t originate or incorrect aliases and unknown accounts. You’ll want to look into fixing those mistakes.
Otherwise, pay attention to your payments. Be sure to pay every loan on time. Setting up automatic payments is a great way to avoid late fees and dings to your credit score. Pay more than the minimums if possible; otherwise, meet the minimums on all debts until you can reduce your balances. Over time, consistent payment of loans and credit card bills on time will boost your payment history and yield a higher credit score.
Can I check my credit score without harming it?
Yes! Simply checking your credit score has no effect whatsoever on the number. You are entitled to know what creditors say about you as a borrower. It’s not the only piece of data that matters when applying for a loan or a new credit card, but it is an important one.
Regularly checking your score arms you with the knowledge you need to become more creditworthy in the eyes of lenders. Checking your credit score personally doesn't impact it; lenders only see “hard inquiries” when you apply for a loan.
Is checking your credit score and checking your credit report the same thing?
Your credit score and your credit report are two different things, although they’re absolutely connected. When you check your score, you’re seeing that three-digit number between 300 and 850. A snapshot used by lenders to decide loan approval, amount, and interest rate, derived from data within your credit report.
Your credit report is a detailed statement showing your credit history, such as loan payments, total debt, and credit inquiries. Check your credit report, verifying personal information and activities on credit accounts, ensuring accuracy and protecting against potential errors.
Understanding credit scores and reports is essential. Crucially, checking them doesn't impact your credit score; it's your right to access this information. It’s your right to know your credit picture and correct any errors on your credit report. Checking credit reports provides you with essential information that can help you improve your credit scores.
This is why it’s good news that several institutions offer free credit scores, and some even provide credit scores and credit reports. These are valuable tools to help you assess your finances, pay attention to outstanding accounts, and get yourself on the right track.
Related: How to build credit over time?