When’s the last time you checked your credit score? If you’re like most Americans, it’s probably been a while since you’ve last looked at it.
A part of the problem is getting your credit score for free hasn’t always been simple. Even if people want to know their score, they’re not sure where to go, or they don’t want to pay to get their report from myFICO.
Recently, there has been a push for banks and credit card companies to give consumers access to their credit score – for free. This was largely spurred by a speech the President gave regarding privacy and identity theft back in January. He mentioned the importance of giving consumers their credit score as a way for them to stay informed on their activity, and banks have been responding.
Why is your credit score important? Monitoring your credit score can arm you against the risk of fraud, because you’ll be alerted whenever a new account is opened using your information. Your credit score is also an important factor when applying for a loan, as your interest rate is largely determined by your credit score.
We’re going to take a look at the best websites you can use to get your credit score for free, and some of them do offer credit reports as well.
Keep in mind that these free websites measure credit differently – so if you check your credit score at one site, and it’s different from another, the discrepancy is due to the way lenders report your credit activity, and due to the fact there are 3 different credit bureaus, which are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. They don’t all measure the same criteria.
Also, when you check your credit score using these sites, it’s considered a soft inquiry – not a hard inquiry – so it won’t affect your credit.
Ready to stay informed? Here are the best free credit check sites for the credit bureaus, and a list of banks and credit card companies that offer free credit scores to their customers.
CreditKarma – TransUnion
CreditKarma gives you your TransUnion credit score and report for free, and the report updates weekly so you can stay on top of it. You can also opt-in to their free credit and account monitoring services. If you do, you’ll receive an email alert whenever your credit score changes, and you’ll be notified whenever a new account is opened.
Additionally, CreditKarma is beginning to offer Equifax credit scores and reports. They’re the first company to offer dual reporting for free. They’re still rolling this feature out to users, so it’s not available to everyone yet, but it’s something worth considering if you want access to information from two credit bureaus instead of just one.
Quizzle – Equifax
Quizzle’s tagline is “Don’t Guess, Know”, which epitomizes the movement to get consumers staying informed about their credit. Checking on your credit is just as important as checking on your bank accounts – it’s important to know (not guess) what’s going on, or you leave yourself at risk.
Quizzle offers a free VantageScore credit score and Equifax credit report, which is updated every 6 months. They update less frequently than the other two sites, but it’s still completely free, and their site is extremely user-friendly.
CreditSesame – TransUnion
CreditSesame offers free monthly TransUnion credit score updates, a free $50,000 identity theft insurance and ID restoration help service, and a free credit monitoring service.
Their identity theft insurance is a new feature, and one that shouldn’t be overlooked. Again, a big part of why you should monitor your credit is to ensure that it’s not being tampered with. If you do experience fraud, CreditSesame has experts on hand that will help.
All three of these websites provide tools and information on bettering your credit score, and they’ll provide you with an analysis of your existing credit, giving you tips on how to either build or repair it.
They are also truly free services – you don’t have to enter your credit card information (there’s no free trials to keep track of). However, they do make money from advertising financial offers, and will try and sell you on those after they give you your credit report. Always do your due diligence – don’t sign up for services they recommend, as they’re not looking out for your best interests.
Credit.com – Experian/Vantage Score
Experian used to offer access to your credit score via CreditSesame. Now, Experian is linked to Credit.com and the site offers free access to your Experian data as well as your VantageScore 3.0 (a scale ranging from 300-850). Credit.com offers free access to some of your credit report data and assigns you a credit report card letter grade.
Don’t Forget Banks and Credit Card Companies!
Some banks and credit card companies are providing their customers with their credit score on their statements. It’s a great perk to have, especially if you don’t want to sign up with one of the websites above.
If one of the banks or credit card companies you have aren’t listed here, don’t worry – more banks will be rolling out free credit score programs to their customers later this year.
- Citibank – You can get your free Equifax credit score if you have any Citibank branded credit card (it must have the logo on it). All you need to do is log into your account, click on your “Benefits” tab, and find the link to view your report. Your credit score is updated every month when you receive a new statement.
- PenFed – Offers customers their Equifax score. You either need to have an active checking account, installment loan, or revolving line of credit with them to view your score. You can find it by logging on and clicking “Your FICO Score is Ready”.
- DCU – You can get your Equifax score as long as you have a credit card or checking account with direct deposit. It’s updated monthly, and you’ll receive an invitation to view it online.
- Barclaycard – Your TransUnion credit score is available with any credit card account. It’s updated monthly, and you can find it on your account summary page.
- Discover – Offers customers with a FICO score based on their TransUnion credit report, which is available with any credit card account. You can find it on your account summary page, and it’s updated monthly.
- Walmart – If you have a Walmart credit card or MasterCard, you’ll be able to receive your Transunion credit score for free. It’s updated monthly – just log into your account at walmart.com/creditlogin. You’ll have to opt-in to receive your monthly statements online.
- Chase – Chase Slate cardholders can get a monthly Experian FICO score.
- USAA – Customers can get the Experian vantage version of their FICO score. You just need to have a credit card account with them, and you’ll be able to view your score from your account online.
- First National Bank of Omaha – Customers can get their Experian credit score as long as they have a credit card account with them. It’s available online and updated monthly.
- American Heritage Federal Credit Union – Customers receive Experian credit scores monthly via the online portal.
- American Express – American Express cardholders get access to their FICO 8 score from Experian via the online portal.
Now that you know exactly where you can go to get your credit score for free, what’s stopping you? Knowing your credit score is empowering – if you’re not happy with it, you can always take action to increase your credit.
Being in the dark isn’t going to help you when it comes to making financial decisions, especially if you’re looking to make any purchases in the near future. Having your credit score in good shape will help you secure better interest rates, which will save you money on any loans you take out in the future.
And don’t forget to keep an eye on your credit report from all three bureaus. You are entitled to one free credit report per year and can get it by going to annualcreditreport.com.