How to check your credit score for absolutely free
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Your credit score is a critical metric for your ability to receive a credit card and score a lucrative sign-up bonus. Knowing your score — and how to improve it — is a fundamental of the points-and-miles hobby. (When you are applying for credit cards, there are other important factors to keep in mind as well.)
Since 2005, every American has been able to request their credit report for free from each credit reporting agency once every 12 months. For years you’d almost always have to pay to access your credit score. Then Fair Isaac Corp. — the creators of the FICO Score — began its FICO Score Open Access program. Now free credit scores are almost ubiquitous.
However, not all credit scores are the same. From FICO Score to VantageScore, there are different ways credit scores are calculated. Plus, scores will likely vary from one credit reporting agency to another. For example, my TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 is currently a full 37 points higher than my Experian FICO Score 8. Some credit issuers are increasingly turning to VantageScore to make approval decisions.
That means that it’s important to know which credit reporting agency your credit score is using data from — and which credit reporting agency an issuer will check. Here are your options for pulling your credit score for free from each credit reporting agency.
American Express automatically pulls an Experian FICO Score 8 credit score each month for “primary card members who get a monthly statement and have an available score.” You won’t be able to access your credit score if you’re only an authorized user or if your card activity wasn’t enough to generate a statement. You can access your current score as well as your score history by logging into your American Express account through this link.
Discover lets anyone pull their Experian FICO Score 8 credit score for free once every 30 days through Credit Scorecard. The score is calculated on the day you request it, so you’ll see your current credit score.
Experian itself allows everyone to request their Experian FICO Score 8 credit score for free through its FreeCreditScore website. Your score will be updated upon login, up to once per 30 days.
USAA allows its members access to their VantageScore 3.0 credit score through Experian’s CreditCheck service. The score automatically updates each month.
Wells Fargo lets the “primary account holder of an eligible Wells Fargo consumer account with a FICO Score available and enrolled in Wells Fargo Online banking” pull their Experian FICO 9 Score. Cardholders are instructed to sign on to their account and select View Your FICO Credit Score from the Planning and Tools section of their Account Summary. The score updates “on or around the 5th business day of each month.”
American Express allows anyone to pull their TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 for free each week using MyCredit Guide. Your credit score is pulled at the time you request it, up to once every seven days. This is especially helpful if you want to know your current credit score.
Bank of America provides “eligible customers with a consumer credit card” access to their FICO Score 8 credit score. The score is automatically updated monthly. To access your score, log in to your account and click “View Your FICO Score.”
Barclays credit cardholders get free access to their TransUnion FICO credit score. You can see your current score and history by logging into your account and clicking the “View My FICO Score” link, which is found under the “account services” drop down menu.
Capital One offers everyone their TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 through CreditWise. Capital One credit cardholders can log in with their credit card account credentials to avoid needing to set up a separate user account.
Chase also allows anyone to check their TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 credit score once a week through Credit Journey. Chase cardholders are prompted to log into their account to view their score. Once you do, scroll down to the bottom left corner of your dashboard to find the “your credit score” link to get to the Credit Journey page.
U.S. Bank lets cardholders see their TransUnion credit score for free through the user’s CreditView Dashboard.
You’re really limited if you want to pull your Equifax credit score. There’s just one bank that offers it:
Citi offers cardholders of “select Citi cards” access to their Equifax FICO Bankcard Score 8. Although these aren’t listed anywhere on Citi’s website, I can tell from my personal cards that at least the following cards are included:
- Citi Prestige® Card
- Citi® Dividend
- Citi Rewards+® Card
- Citi Premier® Card
- AT&T Access Card from Citi
- American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card
- Citi® Double Cash Card
The score is updated monthly and there’s a 10-day delay from when the score is calculated to when it’s available “to allow time for Citi to validate the information.”
The information for the Citi Prestige, Citi Dividend, and the AT&T Access Card from Citi has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
In addition to getting your credit score from banks, some third-party websites offer users the ability to create a profile to pull their credit score. You should know, however, that these sites don’t have the data-protection requirements that banks are required to have.
Bankrate lets users pull their TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 credit score for free every week.
Credit.com allows anyone to set up an account to view their Experian National Equivalency Score and VantageScore 3.0 credit score every 14 days.
Credit Karma lets users see both their TransUnion and Equifax VantageScore 3.0 credit scores for free by setting up an account. This seems to be the only source of a free Equifax credit score that is available to anyone.
Credit Sesame is another source for anyone to get their TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 credit score. Your score will be updated “every month typically on your first log in of a new month.”
Mint also lets you pull a TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 credit score. Most other third-party sources only ask for the last four digits of your social security number, but Mint requires that you enter your full SSN to create your account.
All the options
Here’s a chart summarizing all of the above options:
|Bank or Service||Reporting Agency||Score Type||Access||Updates|
|American Express||Experian||FICO Score 8||Primary cardmembers||Monthly|
|Discover||Experian||FICO Score 8||Public||Upon request (every 30 days)|
|Experian||Experian||FICO Score 8||Public||Upon request (every 30 days)|
|Wells Fargo||Experian||FICO Score 9||Primary cardholders||Monthly around the 5th|
|American Express||TransUnion||VantageScore 3.0||Public||Upon request (every 7 days)|
|Bank of America||TransUnion||FICO Score 8||Personal cardholders||Monthly|
|Capital One||TransUnion||VantageScore 3.0||Public||Weekly|
|Chase||TransUnion||VantageScore 3.0||Public||Upon request (every 7 days)|
|Citi||Equifax||FICO Bankcard Score 8||Holders of “select Citi cards”||Monthly|
|Credit.com||Experian||VantageScore 3.0||Public||14 days|
|Credit Sesame||TransUnion||VantageScore 3.0||Public||Upon request (monthly)|
Improving your score
Does checking your credit score hurt your credit?
It’s a common myth that checking your credit score hurts your credit, but this is not true. It’s likely that this idea grew out of the fact that when your credit is “checked” by banks or utility companies when you’re opening an account, it shows up on your credit report and can result in a 10-20 point ding on your score. When this happens, it’s known as a “hard inquiry” or “hard pull.” The number of these types of inquires you’ve had in the recent past is also a small part of your credit score.
But when you take a look at your own credit score it’s what is know as a “soft pull” or “soft inquiry” and won’t have a negative impact on your credit score.
Get your full credit reports for free every year
By law you are entitled to a full credit report from the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) once a year for free. To get your full reports, head on over to the annual credit report site and click the “Request your free credit reports” button.
If you want to learn more about credit scores, we have scores (pun intended) of resources for you to learn more:
- 6 things to do to improve your credit in 2019
- 5 key considerations for improving your credit score
- Does it hurt to pay off your credit card balance before the billing cycle ends?
- 4 incorrect assumptions about your credit score
- What credit score do you need to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred card?
Additional reporting by Jason Stauffer.
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