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There are lots of free credit scores floating around, but most of them are not the true FICO® score that lenders subscribe to and use as part of their decision.
However FICO® is working to change that by allowing banks and credit unions to give you free ongoing access to the real score they use to make lending decisions as long as you are an account holder.
One of the easiest ways for anyone to get their free FICO® score is via the Discover Credit Scorecard. You do not need to be a customer of Discover – anyone can register and get their official FICO® score for free. The data is from the Experian credit bureau. You can also get a free Experian FICO® 8 score by signing up directly with Experian.
To find out where to get your FICO® score from the other credit bureaus, read on.
Every bank chooses at least one of three credit bureaus to calculate a FICO® score: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The FICO® score one bank uses can be different than another depending on which credit bureau they pulled a report from.
You may be able to get a free FICO® score from your credit card issuer or bank. Financial institutions belonging to the FICO Score Open Access Program offer this service. Visit this page for a list of participating banks. FICO® itself charges monthly for you to see your scores ($19.95, $29.95 or $39.95, depending on which plan you go with) — though they also throw in full copies of your credit reports, which the free bank scores do not.
Be aware that FICO rolled out the FICO Score 10 Suite in the beginning of 2020. This includes FICO Score 10 and FICO Score 10 T — the latter of which looks at trended data for a historical view of a consumer’s behavior. Under FICO Score 10, credit card debt will have a bigger impact than it used to, so it’s more important than ever to keep your utilization ratio less than 30%.
Here’s where to find your real, free FICO® scores from banks or credit unions anyone can join:
Capital One and American Express regularly use Experian’s FICO® among others for credit decisions.
The credit score that you are looking for varies, depending on what type of credit you are looking to apply for. Each credit score version has different benefits, and lenders pull certain scores in accordance with your application.
Below we will go over the best credit scores for various financial products — and where you can get them. Refer to our list above to see if you can access the credit score for free, as not all scores are available for free.
The best options: All VantageScores and FICO® scores
Where to get them: See above
If you’re simply looking to monitor your credit score and stay on top of your credit, either VantageScore or FICO® score will suffice.
The best options: FICO® Bankcard Scores or FICO® Score 8 primarily; FICO® Score 3
Where to get them: Get your FICO® Score 8 from Credit Scorecard by Discover or freecreditscore.com
When applying for a new credit card, these scores are most likely to be pulled by credit card issuers. Lenders may pull your score from one or all three bureaus.
The best options: FICO® Scores 2, 4, 5
Where to get them: Myfico.com for $19.95 a month
These scores are used in the majority of mortgage-related credit evaluations, with lenders pulling your score from all three bureaus. However, these scores are not free and can only be purchased at myfico.com.
The best options: FICO® Auto Scores 2, 4, 5, 8, 9
Where to get them: Myfico.com for $19.95 a month
Auto scores are industry-specific and used in the majority of auto-financing credit evaluations. Lenders may pull your score from one or all three bureaus. Unfortunately, these scores are not free and need to be purchased at Myfico.com.
The best option: FICO® Score 8
Where to get it: Credit Scorecard by Discover or freecreditscore.com.
For other financial products such as personal loans, student loans, and retail credit, FICO® Score 8 is best. This is the credit score most widely used by lenders, and they may pull your score from one or all three bureaus when making a decision.
As of 17-May-19, LendingTree Personal Loan consumers were seeing match rates as low as 2.49% (2.49% APR) on a $20,000 loan amount for a term of three (3) years. Rates and APRs were based on a self-identified credit score of 700 or higher, zero down payment, origination fees of $0 to $100 (depending on loan amount and term selected). Terms Apply. NMLS #1136
FICO® Score 9 is not as widely used as FICO® Score 8. The benefits of this score are that it doesn’t penalize you for paid collections and reduces the ding you get from unpaid medical collections. See our review for more information.
The FICO® NextGen score is used to assess credit risk, but only a small number of lenders use it due to its 150-950 scoring range and older model.