I have written on here before about checking your credit report every four months using annualcreditreport.com.
What I have started doing is checking my credit score once a month to make sure there are no surprises coming my way in the short term. Now I am not going to pay for a score that belongs to me, so I had to get creative in to check my score regularly without being charged by the cartel of the credit bureaus.
That being said I have come across two easy ways to check your score without being charged.
Ways to Get Your Credit Score for Free
Your Credit Card
I have read that there are a few companies that will provide you with your credit score for free through your online account information. The main one seems to be Washington Mutual.
I just so happen to use a personal WAMU card so I went and checked it out and there was a little link that said FICO score. I clicked on it and I could see how my score has been effected over the last 12 months. This updates once a month and pulls the score from Transunion.
WARNING!!!! IF YOU CANNOT CONTROL YOUR SPENDING THEN NO CREDIT CARD IS SAFE IN YOUR HANDS AND THIS OPTION SHOULD NOT BE EMPLOYED, DISCUSSED, OR EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT!!!
For those who should stay away from credit cards there are three sites that will be of great use. They are:
This site offers your credit score as a free service and tries to sell you other offers on the side. It has been getting the best reviews from newspapers and other publications for helping you improve your score. The only downside is that it only focuses on credit not overall finanaces. This one is free forever with no purchase necessary.
I enjoyed this site the most because of all the great tools that it gives you. If you are starting out with budgetting and want to know where you are compared to most Americans then this is a great site.
They will also be adding new features in the future. Of the three this one seems to be the most helpful at evaluating and improving your overall financial health. Once again this one is free and you can keep it for as long as you like.
Free Credit Report vs Credit Score
You credit score is a number that is determined by the FICO organization. It is compiled from information in your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.
So your score is like shorthand for how good your reports are. While you have to jump through some hoops or pay to get your credit score, your credit reports are available to you free of charge.
You can access your reports through AnnualCreditReport.com and you are restricted to accessing each report once a year.
This keeps someone from pulling their reports each month or every week, which is unnecessary and wastes resources.
Types of Credit Score
It used to be that there was only one set of credit scores, all controlled by the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO). The credit bureaus got tired of this and started their own VantageScore.
The FICO score is still the main standard by which credit worthiness is judged. FICO scoring started in 1989 and received its most recent update in 2014.
FICO actually creates three different credit score, one for each credit bureau. They are typically very close together, but if one is off you may need to do some cleaning up of your credit.
FICO also has credit scores created for the auto loan and bankcard industries.
The common FICO score range is from 350-800 and the industry specific scores are from 250-900.
It has taken a while for anyone to buy into the VantageScore, but it is now widely used by lenders, landlords, and credit card companies.
The VantageScore is a little easier to understand because it only gives you a single number from the combined reports of the three credit reporting agencies.
VantageScore began in 2006 and released the fourth version of their credit scoring model in 2017. The latest version allows for a score range between 300 and 850.
Fixing Your Credit Score
If you get your score for the first time and it was not as high as you were expecting there are several ways you can improve your credit score.
Using CreditSesame as a starting point, you can find errors on your credit report and dispute them. You will also want to make sure all your accounts are paid and up to date.
If you are still having problems or are confused, you can work with a credit repair company to help you get your score boosted much faster.
Final Thoughts on Getting Your Credit Score for Free
Keeping track of your credit can save you a lot of time an money in the future. When I went to buy my first car I was rejected because I hadn’t fixed a lot of things that were wrong with my credit.
Fortunately, my parents were willing to cosign for me, but I could have prevented that embarrassment by taking a few simple steps and cleaning up my credit.
Now that I am older, I keep a good watch on my credit to make sure nothing sneaks on there that I was not expecting. Pulling one of your three credit reports every four months or keeping a free account with CreditSesame.com can help you stay on top of your credit.
Mark Nelson says
My suggestion is first to always make sure you get your credit reports from all three bureaus. You can also get your credit scores from MyFico. It isn’t free but when you are going for a loan the lenders look at your middle score. At some point you need to know all three scores.