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. But, 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 don’t use the FICO credit scoring models. 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 three major 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, many credit card issuers offer their customers access to their FICO credit score for free, and often even include credit monitoring service. Browse the list to see if any of your current credit card issuers provide this complimentary service.
If your credit card issuer 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 card issuers that offer a free FICO scores. In addition, you’ll find out what type of credit card you need, and whether general bank membership is enough to qualify.
|Credit Card Issuer||Who Can Access|
Offers FICO score to cardholders. Compares your current credit 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 credit score and 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 FICO score, you’ll get an analysis of why your score is at that number, plus information on how you can improve your credit score.
Get your FICO score using information from your Equifax credit report. Provides a helpful chart with your credit score that shows how lenders interpret different credit 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. It 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 and Credit Scorecard on your monthly statement and can also access it online. There you’ll also see the two most significant 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 card companies listed below don’t offer FICO scores, but they do offer other reputable credit scores from some of the credit bureaus.
|Credit Card Issuer||Who Can Access|
|Capital One (VantageScore 3.0)|
Capital One’s free credit monitoring tool is called CreditWise. Anyone can create an account to log on and access their credit score, either online or through the smartphone app.
|Credit One Bank|
The Credit One Bank Visa with Free Credit Score Access gives you free access to your Experian credit score and credit report summary online. This credit card is available to consumers with bad credit.
|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 credit 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 regularly works the same way.
If you find out your FICO score is low, you can get the help you need to fix it. On the other hand, 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 Fair Isaac Corporation (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 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 credit 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 credit 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 crucial step in fixing your credit.
Knowledge is power and it can be beneficial if you have free access to your credit scores and information on why your credit scores are where they are. Even if you don’t, it’s easy to look at your free credit report and see what negative items you may have.
Negative payment history such as late payments or delinquencies will quickly lower your FICO score. So, 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 scores. 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 scores fast.
Remove Negative Items
You can also explore your options in getting derogatory items removed from your credit history.
It’s 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 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 complete list of great companies to work with, check out our list of reviews here.
Monitor Your Credit
Regularly checking your credit scores 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 regularly can be a strong motivation to keep your spending and payments on the straight and narrow.