13 Ways to Check Your Credit Score for Free

Your credit score is one of the most important numbers in your financial life.

If you have a good score, you can qualify for nearly every credit card and get low rates on loans. However, if you have a bad score, you could run into trouble trying to get something as common as a cell phone.

If you have no idea what your score is – it’s worth reviewing especially if you plan on making any large financed purchases in the near future (<5 years).

Ten years ago, when I started personal finance blogging, free credit score services were rare. Most were tied to some kind of trial you had to cancel. Nowadays, the number of companies that offer a truly free credit score has ballooned.

If you want a score, you should never pay for it. Just pick from some of the sites on the list below to get it:

Non-Credit Card Services

Credit Karma

Highlights

  • Provides free Vantage Score from TransUnion and Equifax
  • Comes with a lot of additional credit report analysis

Credit Karma is probably the best known of all free credit score providers. In fact, it’s so free they don’t even require you to put a credit card on file! That gives you assurance that you won’t be charged some sort of gotcha fee after the fact.

Credit Karma provides your VantageScore 3.0 from both TransUnion and Equifax. That isn’t your official FICO Score, but rather an educational score, that generally parallels your actual FICO Score. This is typical of free credit score providers. FICO Scores cost money, and that’s why they’re typically not offered by free credit score providers. Still, they can give you a general idea of the direction of your credit score.

One of the advantages of using Credit Karma is a large amount of credit report analysis they provide along with your scores.

For example, they’ll tell you what your credit reports show about your payment histories. In fact, the information they provide largely contains all the information you’ll find on a standard credit report. 

Credit Karma makes money is through ads offering credit cards and other loans you’re likely to qualify for. If you click through one of the ads, apply for credit, and your approved, Credit Karma will receive a small commission from the lender. This commission is paid by the loan issuer, not by you. 

Get Your Free Credit Score With Credit Karma

Credit Sesame

Highlights

  • Provides free Vantage Score from TransUnion
  • Offers tools to help improve your credit score

Credit Sesame works much the same way as Credit Karma, in that it provides you with educational scores, rather than your actual FICO Score. And also much like Credit Karma, Credit Sesame is another free service that does not require you to put a credit card on file. 

Credit Sesame is also based on VantageScore 3.0, but it’s provided only by a single credit bureau – TransUnion. But Credit Sesame also offers tools to help you improve your credit score. And by improving your VantageScore 3.0, your actual FICO Score will also increase. You’ll receive an updated credit score every time the score changes.

For example, they offer detailed articles and guides to help you understand exactly how your credit scores are calculated, and what you can do to improve your score in each category.

And once again, much like Credit Karma, Credit Sesame will make credit offers to the user through ads. They may make a recommendation of a particular credit card or loan if it appears it will provide an improvement over the one you already have. This is how the service makes money and allows them to be able to provide your credit score for free.

Get Your Free Credit Score With Credit Sesame

FreeCreditScore.com

Highlights

  • Provides free FICO Score from Experian
  • Comes with credit monitoring alerts

FreeCreditScore.com not only offers your free credit score, but it’s a FICO Score, provided by Experian. And like some of the other free credit score providers on this list, you don’t even need to put a credit card on file to get access. Since you’ll be checking your own credit report and score, it won’t have a negative impact on your credit score.

You’ll have access to a new Experian credit report and FICO Score every 30 days. But you’ll also get credit monitoring alerts, which include new increases, new account openings, public records, fraud alerts, and personal information updates. That’ll give you an opportunity to intervene quickly in the process if you suspect an identity fraud attempt.

And since you’re dealing with Experian, the largest of the three credit bureaus, you’ll also have the ability to submit and track disputed information online, free of charge.

The website also provides credit education resources, with detailed information about credit scores, credit reports, identity theft, and debt management. They even have a blog that provides the latest information on identity theft, as well as videos and credit calculators.

And while it’s optional, you can sign up for Experian CreditMatch. That will provide you with personalized credit card offers instantly, and without affecting your credit scores. The offers will be based on your current and future credit, giving you an opportunity to get better deals on credit cards.

Quizzle (Now Bankrate)

Highlights

  • Not clear if FICO Score or Vantage Score or from which bureau
  • Provides your full credit report
  • Offers alerts for credit report changes

Quizzle is now part of Bankrate.com. Given the resources offered by Bankrate, that should only improve the product, though it looks like the Quizzle name is about to disappear. Bankrate claims they’re creating “a faster, stronger, smoother, credit reporting and analysis tool”. However, the website doesn’t indicate which credit bureau supplies the credit score, or whether it’s an actual FICO Score or an educational score.

Just as was the case with Quizzle, Bankrate is offering weekly credit score updates, access to your full credit report, credit score progress tracking, expert advice and score analysis, and personalized rates on new credit. But one feature offered by Quizzle that’s improved immediately is access to instant alerts for credit report changes. Under Quizzle, that feature was available with a paid version only. With Bankrate, it will be part of the free service.

Much like other free credit score providers, Bankrate is compensated whenever you take advantage of the free credit offers provided on the platform.

For example, if you sign up for a credit card with a lower interest rate than the one you currently have, Bankrate will receive a small fee – paid by the credit card issuer, not by you – for referring you to the issuer.

The Bankrate takeover of Quizzle should be a pure win for former Quizzle participants. Bankrate is one of the largest and most respected credit websites in the industry, drawing more than 15 million visitors to their website each month

Credit.com

Highlights

  • Provides free Vantage Score from Experian
  • Provides an action plan to improve your credit

Credit.com also provides your free Experian credit score, though it’s the VantageScore 3.0 score based on your Experian credit report and not your actual FICO Score. You can sign up for the service to begin getting free access to your credit score, and you won’t be required to put a credit card on file. Similar to other free credit score providers, accessing your credit score won’t hurt it in any way.

Credit.com not only enables you to track your credit but also to manage it more wisely. They provide specific recommendations and a step-by-step action plan that will help you improve your credit and your credit score. They also offer plenty of credit education resources to help you better understand how credit and credit scores work.

Credit.com will soon be rolling out a new feature known as ExtraCredit. The service will give you access to all 28 of your FICO Scores (yes, there are and always have been way more than a single FICO Score!). You’ll have an opportunity to see the scores that lenders see. You’ll also be able to strengthen your credit by reporting bills, like rent and utility payments. It will come with Dark Web monitoring, as well as credit restoration services. And you’ll even be able to get paid cash when you are approved for select credit cards and loans through the feature.

At the moment, Credit.com is having interested consumers sign up on a waitlist, with the promise of releasing the service this summer. The company doesn’t report as much yet, but I suspect this will be a premium service. It will be difficult to offer that many features in  a free service. If that turns out not to be the case, I’ll be happily wrong!

If you think you might need credit repair, here’s how to choose the best credit repair company

Mint.com

Highlights

  • Provides free Vantage Score from TransUnion
  • Offers daily credit monitoring

Mint is most popular for being a free budgeting app. But they also offer free, unlimited credit scores. You can not only check your credit score as many times as you like, but they also offer advice and tips to help you increase it. If there’s a disadvantage, it’s that you’ll need to sign up for the Mint budgeting app, of which the free credit score service is a part. But you are not required to put a credit card on file.

The service will help you to better understand your credit report and credit score, providing detailed information on how your score is calculated. Armed with that information, you’ll have a better opportunity to make improvements.

Your credit score is calculated based on your TransUnion credit report, and is the VantageScore 3.0 educational score. The service offers daily credit monitoring, and you’ll be notified when there are any changes to your personal information, or if there are new credit inquiries appearing on your report.

Check out our full review of Mint here

Available to Anyone

These three services are associated with credit cards but available to everyone:

CreditWise from Capital One

Highlights

  • Provides free Vantage Score from TransUnion
  • Includes their Credit Simulator which lets you see the impact of different actions

CreditWise from Capital One gives you your VantageScore using TransUnion data. CreditWise used to be Credit Tracker and you don’t need to be a Capital One customer to use this, though if you have an account you can skip the registration form and get access directly. CreditWise will check your information as often as every 7 days if you log in that often.

CreditWise has some really nice features that other places don’t offer. The most interesting one is the Credit Simulator, which lets you simulate what would happen to your score if you did things like pay down debt, make on-time payments for 6-months, 12 months, etc.

For example, my VantageScore is 814 and with 2 years of on-time payments, my score would still remain 814. That means for the purposes of VantageScore, my on-time payment history is as good as it gets. If, however, I pay down debt and reduce credit utilization – my score could go up as high as 824.

A few other interesting simulation results:

  • If I increase my credit limit on one card by $5,000 my VantageScore would increase by 3 points.
  • If I open a new credit card with a $5,000 limit, my score falls by 4 points.
    Cancelling my oldest credit card will cost me 3 points too.
  • Allowing all my accounts to go delinquent for 30 days will cost … 274 points!
  • The only downside with CapitalOne’s tool is that it uses VantageScore, which isn’t quite “official” though many of those simulation lessons carry over (it’s just a matter of degree).

Very fun to play with if you’re a nerd like me. 🙂

Here’s our full review of CreditWise from Capital One.

Credit Scorecard from Discover

Highlights

  • Provides free FICO Score from Experian
  • Includes Dark Web monitoring 

Credit Scorecard from Discover is available for both Discover and non-Discover users, and is free in either case. But what makes this free credit score provider stand out is that you’ll get your actual FICO Score (FICO Score 8 to be exact), rather than an educational score, like VantageScore 3.0. Your FICO Score will be provided by Experian, which is the largest of the three major credit bureaus.

Your credit score will be updated the later of every 30 days or the next time you log into Credit ScoreCard. You’ll also get daily monitoring of your Experian credit report. This includes alerts when there is an inquiry for a new account, information turning up on Dark Web sites, and Social Security number alerts. You should also be aware that checking your FICO Score on a regular basis can help you head off any damage that may be caused by data breaches.

You’ll also get detailed information, including the number of inquiries and insight on what’s both helping and hurting your credit score.

Chase Credit Journey

Highlights

  • Provides free Vantage Score from TransUnion
  • Offers alerts when changes are made to your credit

Chase Credit Journey is a free credit score source that’s open to both Chase and non-Chase customers. You’ll have unlimited online access to your credit score, as well as notifications anytime there’s a change on your credit report. The service also provides resources to help you better understand credit and credit scores. This includes a credit score simulator to help you understand how certain changes will affect your scores.

Your credit score will be VantageScore 3.0, based on your credit report from TransUnion, and is updated weekly. You’ll also receive alerts as new information becomes available on your credit report. For example, alerts might include new credit inquiries, new accounts opened in your name, new public records, delinquencies, fraud alerts, and even improved account status.

One benefit is that it will display your credit score for the past 12 months. That will give you a good snapshot of the general direction of your score and will be particularly important if your goal is to improve your credit going forward.

If you are considering a Chase credit card, here’s how to get preapproved

Available to Credit Cardholders

American Express

Highlights

  • Provides free Vantage Score from TransUnion
  • Offers alerts and their credit score simulator 

American Express offers their MyCredit Guide free credit score and report. It’s available for all American Express credit card holders. And while it’s not widely known, it’s also available even if you are not an American Express customer. Anyone can enroll in the service and takes less than two minutes to sign up.

The score provided is your VantageScore 3.0 educational score, provided by TransUnion. You can check your score as frequently as you like, and it will not have a negative impact on your credit score. You can even track your score on your mobile device.

When you receive your credit score, it will include the factors that are impacting it. You can also review up to 12 months of your score history and have access to your detailed TransUnion credit report. You’ll also receive email alerts about important changes to your credit report to help you identify potential fraud. A credit score simulator is provided to help you assess the impact of various financial moves before you make them.

American Express does concede that they may use the information you provide to market American Express products to you. But as you can see from all free credit scores offered by providers on this list, there are provisions for monetizing the free scores, even if that means you don’t pay a fee for the service. That’s certainly the case with MyCredit Guide, since it does not require you to put a credit card on file.

Bank of America

Highlights

  • Provides free FICO Score from TransUnion
  • Offers education to help better understand the factors that impact your credit

Like other major banks, Bank of America also gives you access to your free credit score when you are an eligible bank customer. There’s no additional charge for this service, you just need to enroll in the program, then you’ll have access to your score at any time.

The score you’ll receive will be your actual FICO Score issued by TransUnion, so it’ll be the same score banks use. You’ll be able to access your credit score each month, without having a negative impact on your score. You can see the key factors that are impacting your score and be able to track your scores month-to-month and compare them with national averages. You’ll also learn more about credit and about the strategies to improve your credit scores.

The Better Money Habits feature will also help you to better understand the factors that impact your credit. It also keeps your financial information safe tells you the steps to take to prevent becoming a victim of identity theft.

Wells Fargo

Highlights

  • Provides free FICO Score from Experian
  • Includes the “Smarter Credit Center” where you can learn more about how credit works

Wells Fargo provides your free credit score to all eligible bank customers. It’s another lender providing your actual FICO Score, and not an educational score. The FICO Score is based on credit report information from Experian. There is no additional cost for this service to existing Wells Fargo customers.

The score you’ll be provided with may not be the same one used by Wells Fargo for loan purposes. That’s because Wells Fargo, like other banks, uses different credit scores based on the type of lending involved. For example, they’ll use one variation of FICO Scores for mortgages, another for auto loans, and still another for credit cards.

Your score will update on a monthly basis around the same day each month. As is the case with all credit reports, the score may reflect credit report information that’s up to 30 to 60 days old, so it may not be “up-to-the-minute”. You’ll know the score has been updated when the notification appears on your account summary screen.

Wells Fargo also offers its Smarter Credit Center. This is where you can learn the basics of credit, start building credit from the ground up, improve or rebuild your existing credit, plan for large expenses, take control of your debt, and even learn to put your credit to work for you.

Citi

Highlights

  • Provides free FICO Score from Equifax
  • Includes the “Smarter Credit Center” where you can learn more about how credit works

If you hold – or apply for – one of the many Citi credit cards access to your free credit score is a regular cardholder benefit. In fact, it will be your actual FICO Score as issued by Equifax, and not simply an educational credit score. The score is updated on a monthly basis and made available to you about 10 days after issuance.

More specifically, Citi will provide you with your FICO Bankcard Score 8, which is a common credit score used by banks in the issuance of credit cards. The model comes with a range of a low score of 250 to a high score of 900.

Citi gives you access to your credit score as a way of helping you to better understand and stay on top of your credit status. They also provide educational videos to help you learn exactly what a FICO Score is, what goes into it, and how lenders use them. And when you get your credit score, you’ll be provided with the reasons why your score is what it is.

Final Thoughts

The beauty of these free services is that you don’t have to just use one – you can use several at once. This will give you access to several versions of your score as well as a lot of extra perks and services. 

Many of these services can be used as part of our free do-it-yourself identity theft protection system to catch unexpected changes early, so even if you don’t care about your score it’s worth checking out the services.

Did I miss any?

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Jim Wang

About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a thirty-something father of three who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and a farm in Illinois via AcreTrader.

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About the comments on this site:

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

    • Jim says

      There are so many companies that offer a FICO Score 8, which is the most commonly used “official” score (there are soooooo many different types of FICO scores for different applications).

  1. Millennial Moola says

    I mainly prefer just having the report over the score. That means freecreditreport.com getting it from the three major agencies is good enough for me. Maybe that’ll change if I want to apply for a mortgage

  2. Matt Warnert says

    Hi Jim, Nice list but I’m also in the camp that prefers getting the complete report over just seeing the number. It is much more comforting to know that all the credit lines I expect to be there are, in fact, the only credit lines there.

  3. David Taylor says

    WalletHub is pretty cool too. It’s up there with CK and Credit Sesame (no credit card needed, totally free), and they update way more often! It’s only got TransUnion, but hey, if I can get my report AND my score for free, can’t really be picky, am I right?

  4. Gerri Detweiler says

    Great list Jim!

    Also worth noting – Nav offers a free personal credit score (Experian, VantageScore 3) and free business credit scores from Experian (Intelliscore) and D&B (paydex). It’s the only source to show business owners free personal and credit scores, both of which can be helpful as they grow their business.

    • Jim Wang says

      I keep the list as updated as possible though I’m not sure a FICO score for Equifax would be all that enlightening if you have everything else.

  5. Av Ibp says

    Mint.com is no longer scoring with an Equifax report. They are now using Transunion w/ Vantage (FAKO) Scoring.
    Below is a quote directly from their page.
    “Vantage 3.0 score provided by

    TransUnionSee a problem with your report?

    Did you know? You can get a free 3-bureau report once a year from annualcreditreport.com”

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