Credit Repair

How can I check my credit score?

Your credit can impact your financial and personal life, affecting your ability to rent an apartment, purchase a car or open a credit card. Knowing your credit score and the steps you can take to improve your score could give you insight into where you stand financially and allow you to monitor your progress.

Luckily, there are many ways to check your credit score for free, and checking your own credit will never lower your scores.

How to check your credit scores

Most of the free credit score options will give you either a FICO® or VantageScore® credit score based on one of your credit reports from either Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. Because the scoring model may vary and the underlying data on your credit reports might not be identical, you may see different scores depending on where and when you check. This isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, though.

“What’s more important than the exact number is the range you fall in,” said Nick Clements, founder of MagnifyMoney.com, a LendingTree website. “If you’re excellent on a VantageScore, it’s likely you’ll be [all] good elsewhere.” The different credit-scoring models rely on similar data, and you can monitor one or two scores to make sure you’re moving in the right direction.

Once you know you’re in the good or excellent score ranges, you may want to focus on monitoring your credit reports for odd activity rather than your slight score changes. “I’m not worried so much about my score,” said Clements, “I make sure I have a service on every bureau, so I know if something new is open.” Unusual activity, such as a new account that you don’t remember opening, may indicate you’ve been a victim of identity theft.

Here is an overview of the many ways you can check one (or more) of your credit scores — often for free. When available, we’ve included the scoring model and credit report that’s being used to calculate your score. We also noted how frequently the scores are updated.

Option 1: Free credit score tools online

Some companies give members free access to a credit score and credit score monitoring as a way to attract new customers. Many of these companies either have a financial product (such as a credit card), or help members compare loans and credit line offers.

Sign up for My LendingTree here to get your credit score for free!

When you sign up for one of these services, you may also be giving the company or its affiliates permission to use your credit information to determine the likelihood that you’ll qualify for loans or credit cards. The company may receive a commission if you inquire about, apply for or open a new account.

We researched the following information about each free credit score provider:

  • Credit bureau and model: Which credit report and credit-scoring model will be used to calculate your score?
  • Updated: How frequently will the service update your credit score? Some programs will only update your score when you log into your account.
  • Includes credit monitoring: Will the service send you an email or text if it detects new or suspicious activity on your credit report?

 

Free credit score tools online
Company Credit bureau and model Update frequency Includes credit monitoring?
My LendingTree TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 Monthly Yes
American Express MyCredit Guide

 

TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 Weekly Yes
Credit.com Experian VantageScore 3.0 Every 14 days

 

No
CreditCards.com TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 N/A Yes
Credit Karma TransUnion and Equifax VantageScore 3.0 Weekly Yes
Credit Scorecard from Discover Experian FICO Score 8

 

Monthly No
Credit Sesame TransUnion VantageScore 3.0

 

Monthly Yes
CreditWise from Capital One TransUnion VantageScore 3.0

 

Weekly Yes
CreditWorks Basic from Experian Experian FICO Score 8 Monthly Yes
FreeCreditScore.com Experian FICO Score 8 Monthly Yes
Intuit’s Mint and Turbo services TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 N/A Yes
MoneyLion TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 Monthly Yes
myBankrate TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 Monthly No
NerdWallet TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 Weekly No
Quizzle TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 Every three months No
WalletHub TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 Daily Yes

 

Option 2: Financial institutions that offer a free credit score to members

There are also many financial institutions, including banks, credit unions, online lenders and credit card issuers that offer free credit scores. You may need to be a current customer or member to be eligible for these programs.

For example, over 100 financial institutions participate in the FICO Score Open Access program to give their customers a free FICO credit score and credit information. We’ve highlighted some of the larger companies below, as well as those that give you access to scores that aren’t widely available for free. You can find a more complete list on FICO’s website. We also include companies that offer VantageScore credit scores to customers and members.

Credit scores based on Equifax credit reports
Company Who’s eligible? Credit model Update frequency Includes credit monitoring?
Citibank Cardholders who have a Citi-branded credit card, but not a co-branded card FICO Bankcard Score 8, which ranges from 250 to 900 rather than the 300-to-850-scale that FICO Score 8/9 and VantageScore 3.0/4.0 use. Monthly No
Digital Federal Credit Union Credit union members who opt-in to receive a free credit score FICO Score 5, one of the credit scoring models that’s used in many mortgage lending decisions. Monthly No
Huntington Bank Voice Credit Card® holders FICO Bankcard Score 2, a credit score created for credit card issuers.

 

N/A No
Navy Federal Credit Union Navy Federal Credit Union credit card holders FICO Score 9 N/A No
PenFed Credit Union Members with an active account may be eligible FICO Score 9 N/A No
SunTrust’s FICO Score Program SunTrust credit card holders FICO Bankcard Score 8 Monthly No
Credit scores based on Experian credit reports
Company Who’s eligible? Credit model Update frequency Includes credit monitoring?
American Express American Express cardholders FICO Score 8 Monthly No
First National Bank of Omaha Credit card customers FICO Bankcard Score 9, which ranges from 250 to 900 Monthly No
Chase Slate®* Credit Dashboard Chase Slate®* cardholders FICO Score 8 Monthly No
Union Bank Union Bank credit cardholders FICO Score Bankcard 9, which ranges from 250 to 900 Monthly No
USAA USAA members, with the option to opt into paid monthly subscription plans which include additional identity theft and credit monitoring VantageScore 3.0 Monthly Yes
Wells Fargo Customers with a consumer account who enroll in online banking FICO Score 9 Monthly No

 

Credit scores based on TransUnion credit reports
Company Who’s eligible? Credit model Update frequency Includes credit monitoring?
Bank of America Primary account holder on Bank of America consumer credit cards FICO Score 8 Monthly No
Barclays Cardholders with an open and active Barclays credit card A 300-to-850 score (perhaps FICO Score 8) Monthly No
Credit Scorecard for Discover cardholders Discover cardholders FICO Score 8 N/A No
CreditJourney from Chase Personal (non-business) bank account and credit card customers VantageScore 3.0 Weekly Yes
Sallie Mae Student loan borrowers and cosigners who currently have a Sallie Mae loan FICO Score 8 Quarterly No
Walmart Walmart or Sam’s Club credit card holders A FICO score, but it’s unclear which model Monthly No

 

Option 3: Purchase your credit scores (when it makes sense)

Some companies, including the three credit bureaus, will sell consumers access to their credit scores. Generally, it doesn’t make sense to pay for something when you can get it for free, but there are a few circumstances when you may want to purchase a credit score service.

For example, the paid credit score services may include additional features, such as identity theft insurance and credit monitoring, that isn’t included with a free service. If you’re considering paying for those services anyway, you might as well get a credit score, too. The paid services may also give you access to daily updated scores and reports, while many free options only provide weekly or monthly updates.

Even so, Clements said there are two reasons why it generally doesn’t make sense to purchase your credit scores. The first is that you may not know which score a creditor will use when reviewing your application. Creditors may even use custom scoring models, and a FICO or VantageScore credit score could be just one variable in their model.

The second is that you don’t need to obsess over exactly what score you have with each scoring model, said Clements. “Obsess over the actions that will improve every score,” he suggested. “Keep your utilization down, make all your payments on time and get information that shouldn’t be on your reports off. Don’t worry if one score is 20 points higher than the other.”

There’s one exception, though, said Clements — when you’re planning to buy a home. In this case, many mortgage lenders must use specific FICO scoring models: the FICO Score 2 from Experian, FICO Score 5 from Equifax and FICO Score 4 from TransUnion. Lenders will generally get all three scores, not just one, and use the middle score when making a decision.

These are older scoring models, and many free credit score services don’t access to them. Because you might know exactly which model the lender will consider and what score you’ll need to get approved (although, there are other factors), buying one-time or a short-term subscription access may be worthwhile. One of the only ways to do this is to purchase access directly from FICO.

Option 4: When you get denied credit

One of the reasons to check your credit score ahead of time is to try and avoid getting your application denied. However, if a creditor turns down your application or offers you less favorable terms due to your credit report or score, it may have to send you an adverse action notice letter which will have the credit score the creditor used to make its decision.

The best credit score to check, based on your needs

A credit score from FICO or VantageScore may be just one piece of information a creditor uses to decide whether to approve or deny your application and the terms it offers you. Knowing which score the creditor might use could be helpful in determining your chances of getting approved.

Here’s a general overview of which models the creditors may use during underwriting:

  • Auto loans: FICO Auto Score 8, or an older version of the FICO Auto Score model.
  • Credit cards: FICO Bankcard Score 9 is the latest versions, but many card issuers still use FICO Bankcard Score 8 or an earlier version. Some card issuers may use FICO Score 8 or the FICO Score 3 from Experian.
  • Mortgages: FICO Score 2 (Experian), FICO Score 5 (Equifax) and FICO Score 4 (TransUnion). There are also called Experian/Fair Isaac Risk Model V2SM, Equifax Beacon 5.0 and TransUnion FICO Risk Score, Classic 04
  • Personal loans, student loans, and retail financing: FICO Score 8

*The information related to the Chase Slate® Card has been collected by LendingTree and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

 

Looking for ways to increase your credit score? Get a free credit consultation today!