Even though you’re working toward financial independence, it’s important to stay aware of your credit score. Depending on where you are on your FI journey, you may still need access to loans to make a large purchase such as buying a home. You can also use your stellar credit to earn hundreds or thousands of dollars in credit card rewards each year.
While you can pay to monitor your credit scores, you can often get the same or similar information for free. Here are a handful of places you can get your credit score, and sometimes your credit report, for free.
Places To Get And Monitor Your Credit Score For Free
In general, there are two main places you can get a free credit score. First, you can get your score from a credit card issuer. While some issuers require you to hold one of their cards to get a free credit score, others offer free credit scores to everyone.
Your other options are free credit score websites. These websites provide your score for free. That said, you’re subjected to advertising that could make these websites money.
Below is a list of some of the popular places you can currently get free credit scores along with which credit score they offer.
Credit Card Issuers
Cardholders And Members
Bank of America offers current cardholders access to their FICO Score 8 credit score based on TransUnion credit reporting data.
Barclaycard offers current cardholders a free FICO Score 8 using data from your TransUnion credit report.
Citi offers their cardholders a FICO Bankcard Score 8 based on data from Equifax. This credit scoring version is the same version Citi uses, along with other information, to manage your account with the bank. This particular FICO score ranges from 250 to 900.
PenFed Credit Union offers their members a free FICO Score 9 based on Equifax data. This is the same score they use to manage their accounts.
USAA offers a free monthly Experian VantageScore 3.0 and a yearly Experian credit report if you sign up for their CreditCheck service. They also offer two paid options which include credit scores and reports from one or more than one bureau. (However, this information can usually be found for free elsewhere so paying for the information isn’t necessary.)
Wells Fargo gives eligible customers access to a free FICO score. They state that they may change the FICO score version they offer when a more updated score version is available, but they’ll always let you know which FICO score version is used for a particular score by listing the version on your FICO score display. They use Experian data to generate your score.
For All–Regardless Of Being A Cardholder
American Express offers a free credit score and report through TransUnion to everyone regardless of whether they have an American Express card. They use the VantageScore 3.0 credit scoring model. You have to sign up for an American Express MyCredit Guide to gain access to your report and score.
Capital One CreditWise allows you to monitor your credit and credit score for free regardless of whether you have a Capital One credit card. They use the VantageScore 3.0 credit score based on your TransUnion credit report.
Chase offers their Credit Journey product for free whether you hold a Chase credit card or not. Their free credit score is a TransUnion-based VantageScore 3.0. They offer weekly updates and alerts about critical changes to your credit.
The three websites below offer your credit score for free. That said, they do so in exchange for being able to advertise to you. These sites will show you credit offers to help you improve your finances or your credit. If you sign up for any of these offers, the website will earn a commission in most cases.
Credit.com offers your VantageScore 3.0 from Experian and an Experian National Equivalency Score.
Credit Karma offers VantageScore 3.0 credit score from both TransUnion and Equifax. They also give you access to credit reports from the same agencies.
Credit Sesame gives you a free TransUnion version of the VantageScore 3.0 credit scoring model.
Free Credit Report
FreeCreditScore.com by Experian offers a free credit report and FICO score and other services they would like you to sign up for. Before you get to the free credit score they may try to upsell you to a subscription service for $1 for a seven-day trial followed by a $24.99 per month subscription. Skip this to get your free FICO Score 8 based on Experian data.
If you need more than a score, you can receive a free annual credit report by requesting one from Annual Credit Report.com. This agency is the central source for receiving your credit report allowed by Federal law from the three main credit reporting agencies, once every 12 months.
Ways To Use Free Credit Score Information
These free credit score options can be useful if you’re planning on applying for a loan soon.
You need to make sure you understand which scoring model is used for the free credit score you receive as well as which model your lender will use to make their lending decision.
While not all credit scores are the same, the free credit scores should give you a good idea what range your credit scores should fall in.
The information can also be useful for travel hacking. You can see if you have a good shot of getting approved for the next credit card you want to sign up for. You can even use the free credit reports some of these services offer to check your 5/24 status before applying for Chase credit cards.
Finally, monitoring your credit scores is a smart move. If you see an unexpected change in your credit score, it may be due to fraudulent activity. It is then important to check your credit reports for fraud as soon as you see an unexpected change in your scores. If you find fraud, notify the appropriate parties immediately.