It’s easy to get your credit report for free; in fact, you can get all three copies from each major credit bureau for no charge every 12 months. Unfortunately, while your credit history contains all the financial information contributing to your credit score, it doesn’t include the credit score itself.
Several websites, like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame, offer free credit scores, but they use their own calculation rather than the FICO score. And since the FICO score is the one used by most lenders in the country, it’s the one you’ll want to pay close attention to.
VantageScore 3.0, while less popular, is also a good option because it’s actually calculated by the credit bureaus, and its usage among financial institutions is increasing.
But unless you’re willing to pay for your FICO score or VantageScore, it’s difficult to get an accurate view of your credit score.
How to Get Free FICO Scores
Luckily, more and more credit card issuers are giving their customers free access to their personal FICO scores, and often even include credit monitoring service. Browse the list to see if any of your current credit cards provide this complimentary service.
If your credit card isn’t on the list but you’ve been considering getting a new credit card for other reasons, you can use these as a starting point to select the right one for you. Just remember that you never need to carry a balance on your credit card to take advantage of a free FICO score offer.
Which Credit Cards Offer Free FICO Scores?
Here is a comprehensive list of credit cards that offer a free FICO score. You’ll find out what type of card you need, or whether general bank membership is enough to qualify.
|Credit Card||Who Can Access|
Offers FICO score to cardholders. Compares your current score to your previous month’s score, and shows what category you’re in.
|Bank of America|
Gives cardholders their TransUnion scores from FICO. It shows you the trend of your recent FICO scores and how you compare to others nationally. You can see what is influencing your score, and also get notifications when your updated score is available.
Also uses your TransUnion FICO score. You’ll receive an email alert whenever your score changes, plus information on why it has changed.
Provides FICO 8 scores using your Experian credit report. In addition to your score, you’ll get an analysis on why your FICO score is at that number, plus information on how you can improve your score.
Get your FICO score using information from your Equifax credit report. Provides a helpful chart with your score that shows how lenders interpret different score ranges.
|Certain Account Holders|
Your FICO credit score is included on every monthly statement, along with why you scored that way and tips on improving your score. Also shows you how your score could potentially affect rates and terms.
Comes from your TransUnion credit report. You’ll receive your free FICO score on your monthly statement and can also access it online. There you’ll also see the two largest factors affecting your credit.
You’ll get monthly access to your FICO 8 Bankcard Score, which is what banks use to analyze their customers. You can access your credit information online, where you’ll also see the major contributing factors to your FICO score.
|Walmart Credit Card|
In addition to your monthly FICO score, you’ll also see the top two reasons impacting your number. Free service for those enrolled in online statements.
|Cardholders Enrolled in E-Statements|
Currently offered to credit cardholders, and will soon include anyone with any line of credit with Wells Fargo, including a mortgage, car loan, student loan, or personal loan. Your free FICO score is offered through the bank’s app on your smartphone or tablet.
|Anyone with a Consumer Credit Account|
Credit Cards Offering Other Free Credit Scores
The credit cards listed below don’t offer FICO scores, but they do offer other reputable credit scores from some of the credit bureaus.
|Credit Card||Who Can Access|
|Capital One (VantageScore 3.0)|
Capital One’s free credit monitoring tool is called CreditWise. Anyone can create an account to logon and access their credit score, either online or through the smartphone app.
|US Bank (Experian)|
Cardholders get automatic access when they log into their accounts online.
|USAA Bank (VantageScore 3.0)|
Both bank members and credit cardholders receive daily credit monitoring from Experian. You can see your current credit score as well as past scores, and you’ll get regular alerts on any changes.
Why is it important to check your FICO score?
Keeping track of your FICO score is an important part of maintaining your finances. It doesn’t matter if you’re actively working to repair your credit or are preparing for a major purchasing involving a loan. Whether you know you have good credit or aren’t entirely sure, the point is — you need to know.
Compare it to getting a dental checkup and cleaning every few months. You might not have any cavities, but you still go to prevent getting any in the future. Checking your FICO score works the same way.
If you find out your number is low, you can get the help you need to fix it. If your FICO score is on par, you know it’s a good time to get the best rates on a new loan, or refinance any current loans to a lower interest rate.
Why do your credit scores differ?
Even if you use the same scoring company, like FICO or VantageScore, you may receive a few different credit scores. It may seem strange that these numbers should differ, but in reality, it’s not uncommon at all.
That’s because you receive a separate credit score for each of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Each credit bureau may collect slightly different financial data that contributes to your FICO score. In some cases, your creditors may only report information to only one or two of the credit bureaus.
It may seem complicated, but lenders view all three credit scores to get a more holistic look at your credit history. Typically they use your middle score to determine your loan terms.
If you’re applying for a loan with a spouse or someone else, the lender usually uses the lower of the middle credit scores. So if your middle score is a 680 but your spouse’s is just a 625, the lender will go with the 625 for your loan application.
How can you improve your FICO score?
The good news is, once you’ve accessed your FICO score, you’ve already taken the first and most important step in fixing your credit.
Knowledge is power and it can be especially helpful if you have access to information on why your credit score is where it is. Even if you don’t, it’s easy to look at your free credit report and see what negative items jump out.
Anything like late payments or delinquencies will quickly lower your FICO score. It’s best to get those accounts into good standing and continue to make payments on time.
Lower Your Credit Utilization
Lowering the amount of debt you owe is also a straightforward way to improve your credit score. It may not be easy to make those extra payments on your credit card each month, but lowering your credit utilization can have quick results if you’re trying to increase your credit score fast.
Remove Negative Items
You can also explore your options in getting derogatory items removed from your credit history.
It’s is possible to do on your own, but it’s also helpful to enlist a professional credit repair company, especially if you have several negative items. Reputable companies understand your rights when it comes to dealing with creditors and collection agencies.
While handling credit negotiations can potentially take a lot of time over the course of several months, a credit repair firm takes that burden off your shoulders.
Plus, you don’t have to deal with the emotional issues that come with trying to negotiate credit repair. Instead, you have a professional counselor who is highly trained to work on your behalf.
For a full list of great companies to work with, check out our list of reviews here.
Monitor Your Credit
Regularly checking your credit score is great for your financial health. And if you can take advantage of a free monitoring service through your credit card or bank, then you’re already one step ahead of most people.
Jump on the opportunity to keep a routine eye on your credit score. Not only does it help keep you up to date on important financial information, seeing that number on a regular basis can be a strong motivation to keep your spending and payments on the straight and narrow.