How To Get A Free FICO Credit Score

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Your FICO credit score is increasingly becoming one of the most important numbers in your life. I’ve written about what’s in your FICO credit score as well as how to get FICO credit score estimates, but never how to get the actual three-digit FICO score calculated by one of the bureaus.

While the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA) and Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) did wonders to shed light on the credit reporting industry and the data they are collecting on all of us, the light wasn’t bright enough. There is no way for you to get a free FICO credit score unless you sign up for a trial with one of the bureaus or with Fair Isaac Corporation directly.

Free FICO Credit Scores

There’s no true way to get a free FICO credit score, the bureaus aren’t in the business of giving that information away, but they will give you your score if you sign up for one of their credit related services. Fortunately, they offer trials so you can sign up for a program, see your score, then cancel the trial. If you just want your credit report, see the instructions below.

Checking your score will not lower your score! When you check your own score, it is considered a “soft inquiry” and your score will not be affected. Your score is only affected when a lender makes a “hard inquiry,” which they use to make lending decisions. If you request your report or your score, it will not hurt it.

  1. MyFICO ScoreWatch – MyFICO ScoreWatch has a thirty day (30) trial period where you can get a free Equifax credit report and Equifax credit score. If you don’t cancel within the first thirty days, you will be billed $89.95 annually and you get access to a credit monitoring program that’s fairly robust. You can read my MyFICO ScoreWatch review if you’re interested in learning more. MyFICO is owned by Fair Isaac Corporation, the creator of the FICO credit score system.
  2. Equifax Credit Watch Gold with 3-in-1 Monitoring – The list wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t include a service offered by Equifax. You sign up for a thirty day (30) trial and you get a free FICO credit score from Equifax as well as a 3-in-1 consolidated credit report from all three bureaus. If you don’t cancel within the 30 day period, the monthly fee is $14.95.

Free Credit Report

If you just want your credit report, you can get a copy from each of the bureaus from AnnualCreditReport.com, the website setup by the government. FACTA, passed signed into law in 2003, required that bureaus provide you a copy of your credit report each year upon request. FACTA wasn’t perfect but it did make improvements on FCRA.

It’s more important for you to check your credit report regularly than it is to check your score. Your score will be determined based on each bureau’s proprietary equation but the data they use, your report, is the critical piece of the puzzle. Reviewing your report regularly is the best way to ensure that whatever score you have is accurate. Millions of reports have errors and chances are good that you have one if you haven’t checked your report lately.

Reviewing your report is also important because you can spot identity theft fairly easily because you’ll see accounts or addresses that you don’t recognize. I reviewed my report a few years ago and discovered an address I didn’t recognize (along with a phone account). It took a few weeks but I had the matter cleared up. It didn’t affect my score but it’s important to keep your report as accurate as possible.

You will not be able to get your actual FICO credit score through the government website, you will need to use one of the options above.


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72 Responses to “How To Get A Free FICO Credit Score”

  1. Nice consolidated list.

    Last year my wife and I did the unthinkable… we forgot to cancel one of these! Whatever system you have to use, just make sure you don’t forget to cancel!

  2. Miranda says:

    You can also get an approximation of your credit score for free at creditkarma.com. I get my credit report regularly, and then check Credit Karma to get an idea of where my credit score is at.

    • Jim says:

      Yeah, it’s a slick service. I have Credit Karma listed on my page of credit score estimators.

    • building a new house! says:

      Credit Karma does not give ACCURATE credit scores. My husband and I almost didn’t apply for our mortgage based upon info we got from Credit Karma. Our banker told us to try and see what happened. Turns out my husbands REAL credit score is 79 points higher than Credit Karma said it was, and mine was 53 higher. We applied for, and got a GREAT mortgage. I’ll never use Credir Karma again.

      • Jim says:

        Credit Karma uses TransUnion data and their score, not a FICO score. In general they are off by a little bit.

      • Chris says:

        Why not? It’s free and it’s called an estimate… My actual credit score is about 20 points or so less than what Credit Karma says. But I think they also updated their scoring system lately. Maybe that is why yours is so far off.

  3. Steven says:

    Hey,

    I found out my credit score through my local credit union. I applied for a car loan through them, and they actually gave me the promotional rate. So I asked them if they could tell me what my credit score was and they did. 788.

    I just graduated from college, and have student loans, so I’m thinking I wouldn’t have the best credit history. But now I know and got to say, thanks for adding me to the credit card account in 2001 Dad.

  4. Ethan says:

    You know, if they’d charge something reasonable like $2.99/mo I would probably carry a subscription forever. It’s not that the services aren’t valuable, it’s that their value is so out of line with their retail price.

  5. PennyScraper says:

    I used Privacy Matters 1-2-3 last year to get my credit score for free and cancelled within the 7-day grace period. However they continued to charge my bank account $1 a month.I had to eventually file a cliam with my bank to get my $6 back! I have tried MyFico and had no problems!

  6. tom says:

    Do any of these sites apply to Canadian readers or is it US based?

  7. Carina says:

    Interesting that your stock photo is of an AmEx card, because they recently offered me a free report and FICO score via Experian. No strings attached, no subscription to cancel. Nice.

    The credit union is another good one as Steven mentioned. Chatting with my banker (unioner??) the other day, she happened to mention that they do soft pulls of my score regularly anyway because of my line of credit, and do I want to see what my score is currently and what the historical numbers had been? Uhhh, heck yeah! With maybe two keystrokes she had it all up on screen. (I pull my reports annually like clockwork to catch problems, and and have seen these pulls on there, so doesn’t look like it’s affecting the reports or score negatively.)

    • Eric says:

      I jumped on that offer through Amex too Carina! Nice to see a no strings attached offer. Oh and a great credit score too. :)

    • Jim says:

      Soft pulls/inquiries won’t affect your score at all, it’s the hard pulls/inquiries you have to watch out for. Fortunately, those only happen when companies are making a lending decision.

      I wish they offered that to me!

  8. Harrison says:

    Thanks for the list, Jim.
    Looks like the creditkarma.com is a good option, isn’t it?

    Anyway, off topic for a while, Jim, are you a Chinese?

  9. Bessie says:

    Everyone thanks a bunch for sharing the info re: CreditKarma.com. I looked for days on ways to get around paying the high fees to the 3 credit reporting bureaus just to get my credit score. Unless I signed up for a free trial program I was looking at paying anywhere from $20 to $45 dollars and it would be just my luck I would forget to CXL. CreditKarma.com was fast and gave me instant results. Here again, thanks a bunch for sharing this info.

  10. Jaime says:

    I found this site because I was looking for a little better info on my credit score. I use a site called creditkeeper it costs $10.00 a month and monitors all 3 bureaus. I am new to the credit world at 32 since I always used cash growing up in the restaurant biz. I have to say monitoring my credit can make me crazy I had a mis-charge on a card and it put me over my limit by $7, it also dropped my credit score by almost 40 points…I am grateful I got the alert so I could fix the problem but still lost the 40 points. I am trying desperately to build my credit but from what I understand from others it will take a lot of work to build it and only 1 bad thing to ruin it…I think credit is a racket and we are the ball, bouncing back and forth trying to make ends meat.

  11. Kevin says:

    I don’t care what my credit/FICO score is I pay cash for everything. The credit card companies suck.

    • John says:

      I wish more people thought like you… it would thin out non-profitable banks really quick….

  12. Julie says:

    I feel like I am credit crazy at the moment. My husband and I are trying to purchase our first home. My Fico score is now my drug. I am looking for new ways to get it. Get it updated and make it better. I keep going over the formulas in my head?? I think the whole credit industry is meant to drive you nuts. As crazy as they are, I know that I have to meet the magic number to get reasonable financing. Is anyone else this crazy over the whole credit scene?

    • Kurt Kaufman says:

      free credit report. com
      Lets you view your account and FICO score “Only 1″ the lowest of the three.
      and you can dispute anything negative, monitor activity. 12.00 monthly and well worth the service. I read every thing on the site, every link and act on it.780 is my lowest score with 1.2 million debt. Realestate Debt.
      Keep proactive !!!!

    • Brian says:

      I am exactly the same… can’t watch my score enough while rebuilding after bankruptcy to get back into my own home. Working hard on disputing negative credit items (critical to look for after bankruptcy) and watching my score improve. Constantly on creditkarma, though I keep seeing conflicting info as to whether that is a FICO score or the useless Vantage score.

  13. mike carson says:

    “THERE IS” such a thing as a 100% free credit score.i do business with four different banks. i alternate and i go to a bank one time a year and apply for a small personal loan and i get my credit score “AND NEVER” take out the loan.

  14. ohreally? says:

    applying for a loan is a TERRIBLE way to get a credit score. Loan inquiry’s are ‘hard’ inquirys and directly adversely affect your credit score. Good going Mr. Carson…you’ve ruining whatever credit you have.

  15. shal says:

    There is another site quizzle.com that is connected to experian. It’s a good site to check out and it is free too.

  16. Rik says:

    Just thought I would chime in here as I did sign up for the FICO score watch trial (you can cancel with just an email, unlike some of the others that require a real mail or phone conversation).

    CreditKarma was only 3 points off of my actual FICO score and quizzle was 36 points low. Not bad actually.

  17. mike says:

    how can you say that this report is free then you say after 7days you charges 14.95 a mouth,so i cant see doing that its a scams u should not do that at all u should be taking out of buss…

  18. dawn says:

    Credit karma is not an accurate credit rating. Like the other commenter stated, they are way off, mine is off by 30 pts. and so is my husbands.

  19. Dee says:

    http://www.annualcreditreport.com/

    yearly free credit reports from all 3 beureus.. see it print it and work on it.. it doesnt get ant better.. if your credit is good your fico should be good to.. I used this and worked and called and disputed the negatives till they were gone.. no negative and stuff just debt.. but debt that is being paid monthly on time.. I had a few little medicalbills, I ended up paying the ones I could and settling the ones i couldnt for a leeor amount then owed.. then contacted /disputed they were paid and no longer negative.. my reports after about a years work, is clean. now usally begining of year i get them free, end of year I pay or free trial to get all three scores .. through experian..

  20. Anonymous says:

    Awesome you guys! Credit Karma is awesome.

  21. RK says:

    If you are going to use FreeCreditScore.com you MUST be careful what you click! They claim they clearly outline when your credit card will be charged, but that is completely false. I found a charge of $29.95 the day after requesting my “free” credit score. When I called to cancel the membership and question this charge, they stated it was because I clicked the “Report” tab on the top and was shown my 3-bureau credit score. I asked more than once why I was not prompted to authorize the $29.95 charge and they changed the subject each time. They referred me to fax a letter to Experian Credit Bureau requesting a refund because the website is just a liaison between them and the public so they cannot refund my money directly. Avoid using this site if you can. If you do make sure not to click on anything!

  22. Gilbert says:

    freecreditreport.com is owned by experian. Remember, freecreditreport does not give you fico scores, only their “PLUS” score. It’s much higher than the fico and most banks or lenders disregard it. That is why they always say free credit score, not fico score. I wish I know of a way to get it easier than spending $50 for the 3 scores. A lot of people here are boasting about their credit scores or that they just pay cash. Most aren’t that rich to pay cash for a house. My credit is bad due to a foreclosure and want to get a real estate loan desperatly. I found a small regional bank doesn’t lend by Government polocies, but if you have a average of 680 on the fico, they’ll lend you the money. My hunt goes on. I’m at 670.

  23. joy says:

    i signed up w.karmacredit but I can’t see my debtors, and a derragotory account that i have. please help!

  24. Kathy L says:

    BY LAW, you can get a free credit report: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/freereports/index.shtml

    The best thing is to request only one at a time and you can monitor your credit easily.

    Thanks for the tip on Credit Karma. Very cool!


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