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While there are other important factors to keep in mind, your credit score is a critical metric for whether or not you’ll be able to score a lucrative credit card sign-up bonus. So, knowing your score — and how to improve it — is one of the fundamentals of the points and miles hobby.
Since 2005, every American has been able to request their credit report for free from each credit reporting agency once every 12 months. But 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, it seems that free credit scores are almost ubiquitous.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that not all credit scores are created equal. From FICO Score to VantageScore, there are different ways to calculate a credit score. Plus, factors will likely vary from one credit reporting agency to another. And these differences can really add up for those who have many credit cards. For example, my TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 is currently a full 37 points higher than my Experian FICO Score 8. And some credit issuers are increasingly turning to Vantage Scores 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. For that reason, I’m breaking down your options for pulling your credit score for absolutely free by each credit reporting agency:
American Express automatically pulls a Experian FICO Score 8 credit score each month for “primary card members who get a monthly statement and have an available score.” Unfortunately 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 in to your American Express account through this link.
Chase Slate card holders have access to their FICO Score 8 monthly through the Slate Credit Dashboard. The score will automatically be updated monthly.
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, making this option particularly useful if you want to see your current credit score for a particular reason.
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. Card holders are instructed to sign on to your account and select View Your FICO Credit Score from the Planning and Tools section of your Account Summary. The score updates monthly “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. As with the other on-demand options, 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.”
Capital One offers everyone their TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 through CreditWise. Capital One credit card holders 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 card holders are prompted to log in to 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 card holders 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 card holders of “select Citi cards” access to their Equifax FICO Bankcard Score 8. Although these aren’t listed anywhere on Citi’s website, I’m able to tell from my personal cards that at least the following cards are included:
- Citi Prestige
- Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard
- Citi Dividend
- AT&T Access Card from Citi
- 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.”
In addition to being able to get your credit score from banks, some third-party websites offer users the ability to create a profile to pull their credit score. Just beware that these sites don’t have the data-protection requirements that banks are required to have.
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 to see both their TransUnion and Equifax VantageScore 3.0 credit scores for free by setting up an account. It’s particularly noteworthy that this seems to be the only source of a free Equifax credit score 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. While most other third-party sources only ask for the last four digits of your social security number, note that Mint requires that you enter your full SSN to create your account.
All 18 Options
Here’s a chart summarizing all 18 of the above options:
|Bank or Service||Reporting Agency||Score Type||Access||Updates|
|American Express||Experian||FICO Score 8||Primary card members||Monthly|
|Chase||Experian||FICO Score 8||Chase Slate cardholders||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 card holders||Monthly around the 5th|
|American Express||TransUnion||VantageScore 3.0||Public||Upon request (every 7 days)|
|Bank of America||TransUnion||FICO Score 8||Personal card holders||Monthly|
|Barclays||TransUnion||FICO Score||Card holders||(Unclear)|
|Capital One||TransUnion||VantageScore 3.0||Public||Weekly|
|Chase||TransUnion||VantageScore 3.0||Public||Upon request (every 7 days)|
|U.S. Bank||TransUnion||(Unclear)||Card holders||(Unclear)|
|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
Not satisfied with your results? There are things you can do to improve your credit score, and there are five important considerations to keep in mind. And if you’d rather learn by watching than reading any more, you’re in luck:
If you want to learn more about credit scores, we have scores (pun intended) of resources for you to learn more:
- What Is a Good Credit Score?
- 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?
- How Do Charge Cards Affect Your Credit Score?
- 4 Incorrect Assumptions About Your Credit Score
- Credit and Rewards Checkup: Weekly, Monthly and Yearly Tasks to Follow
- What Credit Score Do You Need to Get the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card?
With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 35,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
- Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
- Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. restaurants. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
- Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
- Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with The Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth's Chris Steak House. This is an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
- $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
- Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- Annual Fee is $250.
- Terms apply.
- See Rates & Fees