Wallet Hacks

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 get nearly every credit card (including those that offer huge new customer bonuses) and get low rates on loans.

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 (
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 legitimately free, no trial nonsense, credit score has ballooned.

First, there were companies like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame, which offered a free VantageScore credit score because they planned on making money by sending credit card offers and loan refinancing offers. Eventually, credit card companies realized it would be a nice perk to offer their members as a way to differentiate themselves.

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 gives two VantageScore 3.0 scores – one with TransUnion data and one with Equifax.

This list contains services that are not affiliated with a credit card company:

Available to Anyone

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

One of the prettiest dashboards for a credit tracker.

CreditWise from Capital One (TransUnion data, TransUnion VantageScore® 3.0 scoring model) – 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 let's 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:

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. 🙂

Use CapitalOne CreditWise

Different data + different model = different score

Credit Scorecard from Discover (Experian data, FICO Score 8 scoring model) – Credit Scorecard is one of the newest available to all, not just Discover customers, and if you have a Discover card you can skip registration by logging in directly.

Credit Tracker updates monthly and is based on FICO Score 8, the most widely used FICO scoring model. FICO Score 8 fascinating because it is a little more forgiving than previous scoring models, you aren't hurt as much by a single late payment or nuisance collection amounts under $100 (like a library book).

Available to Credit Cardholders

My free FICO Score via the Starwood Preferred Guest AMEX

The following issuers offer a free credit score benefit:

With one, or more, of these services you can get a good handle on your credit score without paying a penny. 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?