How to Get Your Free FICO Score
Do you want access to the same FICO credit score information lenders, landlords and even employers use to evaluate you? Good news, now you can get that information for free.
That’s right, FICO credit scores are now available for free. You just have to know where to look (Hint, look here!).
Why is this important? Because according to Fair Isaac, 90% of the major U.S. lenders use FICO scores to make lending decisions.
Even if you’re not looking for a loan, your FICO credit score can impact you. A strong FICO score gets you the best discounts on your home and auto insurance. And employers, especially those in the financial and government sectors, are increasingly using FICO scores to help determine an applicant’s trustworthiness.
Whether you are applying for a loan, cleaning up your credit, or concerned about identity theft, it’s always a good idea to know what your credit score is.
Here are the top ways to get your FICO credit score for free from all three bureaus.
Each source usually only offers access to a credit score from one of the 3 major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You’ll need to access a few different sources to get all 3 scores – definitely worth the effort.
1. Discover Card
Discover Card now offers free access to your official FICO score through their Discover Credit Scorecard. You don’t have to have a Discover account so you can get your score for free in a matter of minutes. The score is from Experian credit bureau.
This website delivers your FICO score and credit report for free, both from Experian.
3. Banks and credit card companies
Earlier this year, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a list of 19 credit card companies and banking institutions which now offer their customers free access to their credit score on an ongoing basis.
If you have an account with one of these companies, you can see your credit score anytime you log on to the company’s website, or by checking your monthly account statements.
The 19 companies on the CFPB list are:
- 1st United Credit Union
- American Express Travel Related Services Co. Inc.
- Bank of America
- Capital One
- Chase Bank USA
- Commerce Bancshares, Inc.
- Discover Financial Services
- First Commonwealth Bank
- First National Bank of Omaha
- First Premier Bank
- Harvard University Employees Credit Union
- Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union
- Premier America Credit Union
- Star One Credit Union
- Synchrony Bank
- US Bank
- Wells Fargo
4. Credit Unions
Here are a few credit unions now offering access to free credit scores:
- Digital Federal Credit Union
- North Carolina State Employees’ Credit Union
- Pentagon Federal Credit Union
- Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union
Many credit unions with a limited membership offer free FICO credit scores. Check with your credit union to see if it is provided with your account.
5. Auto Loans
If you financed your vehicle through these companies, you can access to your FICO score
- Ally Financial – Ongoing access.
- Hyundai Capital America (includes Hyundai Motors Finance and Kia Motors Finance) – Quarterly access for new buyers who are recent college grads (must bring diploma to the dealer at time of purchase).
6. Student Loans
Sallie Mae offers free FICO scores to borrowers and co-signers of the Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loan (from the 2014-2015 academic year or later).
7. Credit Applications
When applying for credit in person or over the phone, ask the person pulling your credit score to share it with you. You have as much of a right to see your credit score as they do.
In fact, it’s your legal right to learn your credit score from a lender who denies your application, or who approves your loan at a rate less than their very best.
According to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act:
A creditor must disclose a consumer’s credit score and information relating to a credit score on a risk-based pricing notice when the score of the consumer to whom the creditor extends credit or whose extension of credit is under review is used in setting the material terms of credit – Dodd Frank Act as reported in Consumer Compliance Outlook
8. Credit Counseling
A new change in FICO policy, allows you to get your credit score from non-profit credit or financial counselors.
According to their website, the FICO® Score Open Access for Credit and Financial Counseling Program“ was designed specifically for credit and financial counselors to increase consumer understanding of FICO® Scores and their importance in everyday financial decisions.
FICO doesn’t reveal the names of participating counseling services, so make sure to check with any counseling agency you work with if they provide free FICO scores.
Here are a few well-known financial counseling services which may be helpful to you.
- National Foundation for Credit Counseling – 800-388-2227
- Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Counseling – (800) 569-4287
- USA.gov Counseling Services – (844) USA-GOV1
- Take Charge America – Free Financial Education – (866) 528-0588
Additional FICO Information
MyFico does not offer a free credit score, but you can use their FICO Scores Estimator to discover the general range where your score lies. The tool asks you 10 questions and subsequently delivers an estimated range for your FICO score for free.
Alternatives to FICO Scores
You may be confused by all the companies offering free credit scores which are not FICO scores.
They are not fake scores, as some claim. They are just scores based on their own proprietary model.
What is VantageScore?
We’ve focused on the FICO scoring system because it’s the most widely used. As we’ve noted before, FICO claims 90% of the top U.S. lending institutions use FICO.
The 3 major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are taking aim at that number. In a joint effort, they’ve developed VantageScore, with the goal or cutting into FICO’s market share.
Many lenders have begun to use the score as a basis for their lending decisions. The U.S. News and World Report states that “from 2014 to 2015, VantageScore credit scores were used more than 6 billion times, double the amount used from 2013 to 2014.“
There are 5 reasons why it’s worth it to obtain your VantageScore number.
- The number gives you a good idea of where your credit stands. If you’re getting an overall picture of your credit, it’s a good addition to your FICO score.
- Although their market share is considerably less, many lenders now use VantageScore.
- The services offering VantageScore usually provide helpful reports, outlining what is helping your score, and what is hurting it.
- They are totally free and usually come with free credit monitoring.
If you’re interested in learning your VantageScore number, it is available for free through CreditKarma, CreditSesame, and Credit.com.
Access Your Credit Report
Once you know your credit scores, check your credit reports as well. The information on your credit reports is what determines the basis for your credit scores. Reviewing your credit reports annually is the best way to verify the reported data is accurate and error-free.
The major credit-reporting agencies are required by law to provide you with one free copy of your credit report each year. You can obtain your reports at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Once you get your credit reports, comb through each one looking for errors, such as late payments that aren’t late, and debts that are not yours.
Mistakes happen but it’s up to you to fix them. Contact each bureau to dispute the errors and have them removed from your report.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to your credit, it’s important to protect and improve your score. The key is making payments on time, keeping your credit utilization low, and applying for new credit only when absolutely necessary. Knowing your credit score lets you know where you stand and where you can improve.
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How’s your credit score? Have you used any of these services to discover your credit for free? Let us know in the comments or on our Facebook page.