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.
- 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.
- 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.