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Do you pay to check your credit score? If so, you’re spending more money than you need to because you can get your credit score for free. Getting your credit score for free won’t hurt your credit score either. Let’s explore some of the best places to get free credit score checks that won’t affect your credit.
Editor’s Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) are offering consumers the chance to check their credit reports for free each week through April 2021.
The Benefits of Checking Your Credit Score
You might already get your credit report for free once a year from annualcreditreport.com. Your credit report will help you find any reporting errors that can damage your credit score and cause your next credit application to be declined. This information is vital, but you don’t get that three-digit number that gives you a good idea if you’ll qualify for a rewards credit card or if you should wait until your credit score improves a little bit more.
Checking your credit score for free is a win-win situation for these reasons:
- Quickly see if you qualify for the best credit product
- Verify there are no reporting errors
- Won’t waste a credit application
- Free credit scores don’t count as a “hard” credit inquiry
What Is a Free Credit Score?
There has to be a catch if your credit score is free, right?
Yes and no. It depends where you get your free credit score from.
Many of the online websites will offer you a free score and recommend credit cards they think you have high approval odds for. If you apply for a card or loan through their website, they might receive some monetary compensation. Note that although you can apply through their website, don’t feel obligated to apply just because they give you a free credit score.
Besides getting a free credit score, most of the sites let you take a peek at your credit report for free once a year. They will also tell you the top reasons why your score is good and what you can do to improve it. In most cases, the free credit score websites also come with a calculator. You can predict how credit events like making an on-time payment for six straight months or how applying for a new credit account will impact your score.
FICO Score vs. VantageScore
When you apply for a new Sapphire Preferred credit card or loan, the bank is most likely going to access your FICO credit score (which is the gold standard of credit scores).
While some places provide you with FICO score from one of the three credit bureaus–Experian, Equifax, TransUnion–most of the free credit scores are going to be a VantageScore. The VantageScore is a good indicator of your current credit score, although it might be a few points higher or lower because your credit history is weighted differently.
Even if you can get your FICO score for free, there are 16 different versions of your FICO score. For example, your free FICO score might be the FICO 9. An auto loan lender is going to use the FICO AutoScore 8. The credit card company will use the FICO Bankcard Score 8.
Each credit score version has their own unique nuances, but unless you’re borderline between two qualities of credit–excellent and very good or good and fair–you shouldn’t lose sleep over what score you get for free.
Now that you hopefully have a better understanding, let’s talk about the best places to get free credit score checks without affecting your credit.
Best Places To Get Free Credit Score Checks
As you’ll see, you have your pick of places to check your credit score for free. Don’t be afraid to sign up for at least two of these sites to check your score from two different credit bureaus. It doesn’t hurt your credit score and you will also better monitor your credit to quickly spot fraudulent activity that can wreck your credit if you wait too long.
TransUnion is the most commonly used credit bureau, but others use Experian and Equifax too.
All of these free services will send alerts if they notice unusual activity. You might receive an email after you apply for a new credit card or loan.
Your Current Bank
Your current bank or credit union might offer a free credit score. It can either be a FICO or VantageScore. Since you already have a relationship with your bank, you can keep your savings and credit score in one place for convenience.
Discover is one of the best places to get free credit score checks because it is one of the few institutions to offer a free FICO credit score. Your score is updated every 30 days. You’ll see the exact same score the lenders see.
Chase Credit Journey
Chase Credit Journey provides a free VantageScore 3.0 from TransUnion that updates weekly. In addition to the weekly updates, you can use the free score simulator to see how credit events will affect your credit score.
If you currently bank with Chase or own a Chase credit card, you might have received an invitation to join Credit Journey. Non-Chase customers can also join Credit Journey for free without applying for a credit card.
Credit Karma is not associated with a specific bank. However, you can apply for credit cards and loans from the largest financial lenders. They use Equifax and TransUnion to identify your score. You can monitor your credit score and simulate credit events. You can also read credit card reviews to get an idea of what credit score you need to get approved for a particular rewards card. You may even file your taxes your free with Credit Karma.
With Credit Sesame, you get free identity theft protection up to $50,000. Your free VantageScore is provided by TransUnion and updates weekly.
For about $10 a month, you can upgrade to a premium membership. Credit Sesame will update your score from all three credit bureaus on a daily basis. You can also get credit dispute assistance and premium identity theft protect too. Upgrading to a premium plan isn’t required. But if you’re a recent identity theft victim or need help cleaning up reporting errors, it can be worth it.
You can also get your FICO score for free directly from Experian (includes monthly updates). As you’ve seen from all the recommendations so far, Experian hasn’t partnered with any of the other free credit score services.
Going with Experian can be well worth the application because you get a FICO score from Experian.
Final Thoughts on Getting a Free Credit Score
These six legit recommendations are the best places to get free credit score checks. Besides checking your score for free, you will also enjoy the other useful tools offered. These will help you predict your credit score growth and estimate your approval odds for future credit applications. There is even free fraud monitoring to stop identity thieves in their tracks.
Now I hope you know some of the best places to get free credit score checks without affecting your credit.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.