Knowing your credit score is very important as it greatly affects your financial ability, but for some reason no regulation exists that gives you the right to know it for free. Your credit score affects the interest rate you get when applying for a loan or even affect your eligibility for one. It also affects your fees why applying for financial services such as credit cards. Even your housing association, where you rent or your employer might want to verify your credit report and credit score. For Americans, having a good credit score makes things less costlier and more attainable.
Your credit report, which contains a lot of information about you and your financial whereabouts and it even required to calculate your credit score, is available for free according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act which allows you to order a credit report once per year from all 3 of the nation’s credit reporting companies (TransUnion Experian and Equifax). Each company uses a different method of calculating your credit score and each compiles its own credit report.
Why is there no similar act for your credit score?
It just makes no sense!
The good news is there are several ways you can know your credit score, or at least get a close estimate for it, without shelling out your hard-earned cash for something you should know for free!
When you find out your credit score, you can get an idea of where you stand financially as seen from the eyes of potential employers, lenders or insurers. Knowing your credit score will help you what to expect and will allow you to take steps to improve it.
Credit reporting companies calculate your actual credit score through FICO, a public company in the United States. The FICO calculated score is the official score considered by entities when evaluating your financial performance.
Where you find your credit score for free?
Remember none of the below scores is your actual FICO score. But they are very accurate estimates. I track my credit score on most of these and they very closely match actual score. I bought our home in summer this year and the difference between the actual FICO score and these scores were less than 5. So, you can very well rely on any of these numbers.
Credit Karma provides you with your actual credit score based on your TransUnion credit report. I am a long time Credit Karma user and I track my score through them every month.
Credit Karma does not provide you with your actual FICO credit score but just your score as calculated through TransRisk, which uses a different calculation method for calculating your credit score other than FICO. A small amount of lenders do use the TransRisk score, but most of them use the FICO score. Credit Karma provides TransRisk credit scores between 100 and 900 points.
Credit Karma also offers some useful services such a credit score simulator that allows you to predict the impact of certain actions on your credit score, although it uses the TransRisk calculation in this prediction as well. Credit Karma and TransRisk are both owned by TransUnion.
They believe that consumers have the right to know their creditworthiness every single month. Credit Sesame gives you a free credit score (no credit card required) and a complete overview of your credit profile and debt situation.
Credit Sesame analytics tools analyzes your credit and debt situation daily and shows you how you can save on your loans, credit card debts and home mortgages. Knowing your credit score means you’ll know where you stand financially and how you can save money!
This is my secret weapon to know free Experian score, once a year. The trick is to sign up for myfreecreditscore first. Once you get access to you score and credit report, you can call them in to cancel the subscription within 7 days.
This is your actual Experian credit score which you should monitor anyway.
Equifax was kind enough to provide a Credit Score Card on their website which can be used to indicate the range in which your credit score lies based on your Equifax credit report. It is an especially useful tool because it also explains why your credit score lies in that specific range and not the next higher one.
Equifax uses its own Equifax Risk Score, which is similar to TransUnion’s TransRisk in that they are both different from the actual score provided by FICO. A small number of lenders do use the Equifax Risk Score, but not enough to make it widespread or accurate enough. The Equifax Risk Score gives you your credit score between 280 and 850 points.
Bankrate.com has a very useful FICO score estimation tool which will give a range in which your score lies. It will ask you direct questions about your financial situation based on factors that affect your credit score. These estimated ranges may not be the most accurate, but they give you a better idea about where you stand, certainly better than nothing! This estimating tool is quick and does not require you to present any identity information.
Quizzle uses another different calculation method to calculate your credit score (different from FICO, TransRisk and Equifax Risk Score) using your Experian credit report. This calculation provides you with your VantageScore credit score, and provides you with a score between 350 and 850 points. Like Equifax, Quizzle also provides you with some explanation as to why your score is not higher. One of the best features on Quizzle is that it allows you to contact Experian directly to correct any mistakes in your credit report and also get a free Equifax credit report twice a year.
Just like the TransRisk score and the Equifax Risk Score, the VantageScore credit score is rarely used by lenders.
Although none of the above websites will give you your actual FICO score, they do provide you with close estimations and other useful services for free. It is up to you to evaluate your estimated credit score and work on improving it to enjoy better financial services.
Here are some sites that’ll tell you actual credit score free for a limited time.
Knowing your actual credit score
Credit Score Pro
Credit Score Pro offers credit score for free and credit report at $1 (Goes to charity). Please remember this is a 7 day risk free trial. If you do not cancel the subscription by calling them, within 7 days of registration, you’ll be charged a monthly fee of $29.95, which will be billed every month till you cancel.
The best way is to register, know your scores from all three agencies. Go over the reports. And then if you don’t want to continue, call them to cancel. This sites states below
“Monitoring with Experian® begins within 48 hours of enrollment in your trial. Monitoring with Equifax® and Transunion® takes approximately 4 days to begin, though in some cases cannot be initiated during your trial period. You may cancel your trial membership any time within 9 days of enrollment without charge. ”
Free Score 360
Works much the same way as credit score pro. Free Score 360 has $1 fee to get a credit report and you get to see your actual credit scores (from all three bureaus) for free. The caveat is they will automatically enroll you in to credit monitoring service for $29.95 unless you cancel within first 7 days. So the trick here would be same as credit score pro. Enroll, know your scores and the immediately cancel by calling them.
It’s best practice to note their customer service number for easy access. As soon as you see the scores, make that phone call.
Your financial institution
Many credit card issuers offers credit monitoring service to its customers. It’s not necessary to enroll, I never enrolled in them. I use 4 credit cards and all of them offer this service. I get solicitation almost every quarter. I enroll in them just to know my credit score and get the credit report.
Not only score is important but, verifying your credit report for accuracy is an important personal financial task we should be performing. I urge my readers to enroll in such service and then before the free trial period expires, go ahead and cancel them if you don’t need credit monitoring and protection service.