How to Get Free Credit Score from TransUnion

TransUnion credit score is one of the three credit scores that you can obtain. Unlike FICO score, there is a easy and free way to obtain your TransUnion score from a web site called Credit Karma (thanks to Lazy Man And Money for posting about this originally). Originally, Credit Karma didn’t use one of the three main credit scores. Fortunately, they listened to their users feedback, and the score is now based on TransUnion credit score that runs between 300-850.

When I last checked my credit score was 785. Here’s a screen shot of  credit score.

Credit Score History

Credit Score Comparison

In addition to free credit score, Credit Karma also gives you some comparison information. For example, I learned that I am among 15.9% of the population that has FICO credit score between 750 and 799.

credit score distribution

My score is in the 91% percentile of the U.S. population.

national percentile

And having a score of 785 is considered to be very good.

Credit rating

Overall, Credit Karma is a great addition to your personal finance management toolkit, and you can’t beat the price — free! Moreover, you can also obtain credit score from Experian and your FICO score. Here are tutorials on how to get these score for free.

About the Author

By , on Sep 9, 2008
Pinyo
Pinyo is the owner of Moolanomy Personal Finance. He is a licensed Realtor specializing in residential homes in the Northern Virginia area. Over the past 20 years, Pinyo have enjoyed a diverse career as an investor, entrepreneur, business executive, educator, and financial literacy author.

Credit Score Ratings Chart

Credit Score Description
750+ Excellent
700 - 750 Good
640 - 700 Average
580 - 640 Poor
below 580 Bad
see your credit score now

Leave Your Comment (25 Comments)

  1. Pinyo says:

    @Tim — there is no “official” credit score per se. It really depends on what your lender uses. The score will come from either Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. Using my credit score comparison chart, you can get Experian score free from Quizzle.com and TransUnion score from CreditKarma. To get FICO score from Equifax, you’ll have to pay.

  2. Tim says:

    Any idea how does someone get their “official” credit score–the one mortgage companies actually use to determine your interest rate, etc.? What is the cheapest (one-time) way to get this without having to sign up for a monthly program?

  3. Pinyo says:

    @EN – Thank you for stopping by. When I don’t have an article written for the day, I occasionally update an older article to make sure it’s current, add new info, and republish them.

  4. EN says:

    Woah! This showed up in my reader and I thought it was new article but then I saw a comment I made months ago. lol.

    Anyways, 8 months later, I still use Credit Karma to check my score but not very often (maybe once a couple of months). In that span, I turned 21 and my score went from 730 to 765. I guess those on time, full monthly payments have continued to help. :)

  5. I’m glad that you mentioned that Credit Karma wasn’t an official FICO score. Still anything that is free and lets you track your credit performance over time is extremely valuable. And thanks for the mention.

  6. Pinyo says:

    @Terry — I don’t recall at this point, but I don’t remember it being long or objectionable when I did it.

    @Karel — Thank you. Just remember that Credit Karma only gives you the score. You’ll need AnnualCreditReport.com for your report.

  7. karel zeman says:

    This is a Great article with great advice. If you have errors or problems on your credit report, make sure you get them fixed to help your credit score. Always know what is on your credit report and how you can improve your score.
    This is a huge help for those of us who do not know where to start when it comes to improving our credit score. I want to purchase a home on the distant horizon, so I was thinking I should start doing stuff now to boost my score.

  8. Terry says:

    So how much information do you have to give them? I hate signup processes where you have to give them a bunch of personal information but they don’t tell you how much you’ll have to give them until you’ve completed most of the process. On this site you have to go through two steps before they tell you how much info they want. I’d like to know what I have to give them BEFORE I go through the first two steps.

  9. Pinyo says:

    @EN – You’re welcome. That’s a good score for a 20 years old. Just remember that it’s just a tool and sometimes the right financial decision will cause it to go down — absolutely nothing is wrong with that.

  10. EN says:

    Thanks Pinyo!

    So I hesitated for awhile and waited to see what users’ reactions would be to CreditKarma, and it seems like it’s largely positive for the most part. I went ahead and signed up today and the process was really simple. At 20, I was actually afraid to see my score (I’ve never seen it before) but it turned out to be around what I thought it would be (730).

    Well thanks for the review again!

  11. Pinyo says:

    @Lynnae — That’s great. 801 should give you the best mortgage rate available.

    @Plonkee — Good point –> “If on the other hand you have resolved never to use debt again, then your FICO score is not important and may well drop as you get closer to debt free.”

    @LRG — I’m glad that clear things up :-)

    @Jackie — This is from Credit Karma FAQ:

    Will using Credit Karma lower my credit score?

    No. Credit Karma is making the credit score request on your behalf. Inquires made on your behalf will not be shown to creditors and will not affect your credit score.

    Also, Cash Money Life has a good article on hard pull versus soft pull credit inquiry — soft pull doesn’t affect your score.

  12. Jackie says:

    I heard that the more you check your credit score the more it decreases? Is that true?

  13. Roxanne says:

    747 – I don’t use credit much.

  14. LRG says:

    Pinyo,
    I like the thermometer analogy. Maybe I can use this free “tool” to see what direction my score is actually going, i.e. it should go up before is starts to go down.

    from your prior comment:
    “It a misconception that having highest possible FICO is a good thing.”

    Maybe I was looking for this statement somewhere in the article, instead of just giving the allusion that higher is better.

    At any rate, keep up the good work!

  15. plonkee says:

    I don’t see the problem with knowing your credit score, or having a high credit score. If you are in good financial shape, but not a debt-free wannabe, then you should be looking for a high FICO score, and a decline would be a problem.

    If on the other hand you have resolved never to use debt again, then your FICO score is not important and may well drop as you get closer to debt free.

  16. Lynnae says:

    I didn’t use the free tools, but my credit score was 801 when we applied for our mortgage. :)

    I personally don’t use my credit score as a financial management tool, because I’m too lazy. But knowing your credit score is really useful when shopping around for something like a mortgage. If you know your score, different mortgage companies can give you a general idea of what you qualify for without pulling your score, possibly lowering it.

  17. Pinyo says:

    @LRG — If your financial strategy is sound, there is nothing wrong with having your FICO score go down. It a misconception that having highest possible FICO is a good thing.

    As for being a tool, yes I consider the ability to check your credit score a good tool. I guess you can compare it to a thermometer. Knowing the temperature is a nice thing to be able to do — but hotter and colder don’t always correlate to better or worse.

    PS: Thank you for the compliment on the asset allocation article. I spent almost a week writing that one. :-)

  18. LRG says:

    A tool for financial management?

    I don’t get it. Maybe it’s just me and my personal choices and strategies, but if I execute my current plans for financial management, then my FICO score is going to go DOWN. So how is that a tool?

    Disappointed…well it’s just going from a great, educational article on asset allocation to one about how high your FICO score is just disappoints me. Won’t discourage my reading of your blog, just wanted wanted to share my feelings.

  19. Pinyo says:

    @LRG — I am not sure why you’re disappointed. :-(

    Per my response to TML, credit score could be used in conjunction with your credit report. Knowing your credit score cannot prevent identity theft, but it allows you to monitor for any suspicious activity — i.e., “oh, there’s a big dip in my score, let me go check my credit report, and possibly take corrective actions.”

    And as I mentioned to TML, FICO is just a measure (and it’s far from perfect). It’s a tool in your financial management portfolio, and it isn’t a reflection on who you are as a human being. However, it is widely used to judge your level of financial responsibility (whether that’s good or bad, it’s a subject for another discussion).

  20. Pinyo says:

    @ToughMoneyLove — No offense taken. I understand that FICO is not an indication of wealth, financial superiority, etc. It’s an indication of credit worthiness (and even that’s a rough measure — i.e., you could have someone with bad credit score that would not default on the loan, but a person with a good credit that would).

    Yes, credit score will not prevent identity theft — it’s not 100% preventable — but it could be used as a monitoring tool. If you see a spike (or a dip) and you haven’t done anything to cause it, it could be an indication that you should go an check your credit report to see if something is up.

  21. LRG says:

    I totally agree Mr. TML!

    “Woo Hoo! My “I LOVE DEBT” score is really high, look at me.”

    This drives me crazy!

    Pinyo, I really enjoy reading your blog, but this one really disappointed me. Especially the comment about your credit score and identity theft.

  22. Pinyo – No offense to you and your readers, but nobody impresses me with their credit score. Anyone living paycheck to paycheck with no assets but lots of headroom on their credit cards can still have a high FICO score. Show me the Net Worth Karma then we will talk.

    By the way, monitoring your credit score has little to do with identity theft. That information is in your credit report.

  23. Pinyo says:

    @Jaynee — That’s a good turnaround story and a great score. Congratulation.

    @Ryan — That’s a great score for your age. I believe it’s a soft pull so it will not affect your score. There’s no need to check your score that often though. Once a month is more than enough.

  24. Ryan says:

    This is a great service…I just checked my score and it’s 761. Is that good for a 23-year old? I like to think it’s pretty good.

    Congrats to Jaynee for the 762 and to the author for the 785!

    Do you think that checking this service frequently (once a week or so) will have a negative effect on a credit score? I’ve heard that too many inquiries by other companies can be bad…

  25. Jaynee says:

    I’m thrilled with where I am now, considering 15 years ago my credit was a MESS due to late payments (sometimes as late as 120 days) and financial troubles that included almost getting my car repo’d.

    My credit score is 762, which ranks in the middle of “good” and “very good” and I am in the 83% percentile of the national distribution.

    WOO HOOO!!!

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