Do you want to know your credit score but are not sure where to look? Here, I will walk you through the three main ways you can check your scores for FREE and explain the different types of scores. Whether you plan to borrow money or not, your credit scores are important, and you should know where you stand. Luckily, you can check them for FREE without giving away your credit card information — that’s right…no credit card needed.
There are three main ways that you can check your credit score for free:
- Free Credit Score Sites – Several specialized sites give you access to your score for free, with no credit card required. These sites include Credit Sesame and Credit Karma, etc. See the next section below.
- Financial Institutions – Some banks, credit card companies, and the lender will also provide you with a free credit score. Peer-to-peer lending sites like Prosper and Lending Club give you access to your credit rating if you apply to become a borrower. You can also access your credit score whenever you apply for a loan.
- Credit Monitoring Service Trials – Many credit monitoring services offer a free trial. As part of the trial, you can experience their services, including instant access to your credit reports and scores. Generally, I don’t recommend this because too many people fail to read the fine print and ended up paying something in the process.
Check Your Credit Scores for Free
If you don’t know your credit scores yet, you can use some of the sites listed below to gain access to your credit scores.
|Equifax||FREE from Credit Karma|
|Experian||There is currently no free option for Equifax. You can get your score directly from Equifax for $19.95.|
|TransUnion||FREE from Credit Karma and Credit Sesame|
In addition to the methods outlined above, you can gain access to your credit scores when you apply for a loan. While the information is free, accessing your scores this way will show up as a hard pull credit inquiry that slightly hurts your scores. Also, I do not recommend applying for a loan just to see your scores.
- Personal Loan – If you take out a personal loan, e.g., become a borrower on LendingClub or Prosper, you will gain access to credit rating information.
- Car Loan – When you finance the purchase of your new or used car, the loan officer will pull your credit scores to determine your creditworthiness, as well as to determine what sort of deal you are eligible for. Whether you are approved or rejected, you have the right to know the scores pulled by the lender, so feel free to ask for the information.
- Home Loan – When you pre-qualify for a loan or apply for a loan (a mortgage or refinancing), the lender will pull your credit scores (usually from all three credit reporting agencies). Again, you can request this information and see your credit ratings.
If you don’t know your scores yet, give one of these sites a try.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I check my credit score without affecting it?
Free Credit Score from Credit Karma and Credit Sesame are considered soft pulls. Soft pulls don’t lower your credit score, so you are safe to review your credit score through these two sites at any time.
What is the best site to get a free credit report?
AnnualCreditReport.com is by far the best place to get your free credit reports. You can get one free full credit report from each of the three major reporting agencies (i.e., TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) per year.
Why can’t I get my credit scores from AnnualCreditReport.com?
While AnnualCreditReport.com is excellent for getting your free credit reports, you CANNOT get free credit scores from them. If you do want to get credit scores from them, you with have to pay a nominal fee.
Should I check my credit score?
Absolutely. It is a best practice to check your credit scores regularly. Some services will also provide you with free alerts and send you an email whenever there is a change in your credit. I recommend that you check your scores at least once a month, and your reports every four months.
What credit scores will I get with these services?
Each agency provides its own version of a credit score. Read carefully about each service and the score(s) they provide. In my experience, the free resources are equally good; I found negligible differences among them.
To learn more about different credit scoring models, please read Different Types of Credit Scores: FICO, FAKO, and Enhanced.
Pinyo Bhulipongsanon is the owner of Moolanomy Personal Finance and a Realtor® licensed in Virginia and Maryland. Over the past 20 years, Pinyo has enjoyed a diverse career as an investor, entrepreneur, business executive, educator, financial literacy author, and Realtor®.