6 places where you can get your FICO® scores for free

Family with dog sitting together in living room. Did they get their FICO scores free?Image: Family with dog sitting together in living room. Did they get their FICO scores free?

In a Nutshell

Staying on top of your credit scores can help you feel more financially in control. Luckily, many financial institutions offer access to your FICO® scores for free.
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Credit scores can have a huge impact on a person’s financial life. They can be the difference between being approved for a new loan or credit card or being denied.

Plus they can play a vital role in determining the interest rate you’ll receive on nearly any loan. So what are the best ways to keep yourself up to date on your credit scores? You have options.

First, there’s Credit Karma, where you can get your free VantageScore 3.0 credit scores from TransUnion and Equifax. VantageScore is a different scoring model than FICO, but is still a good way to gauge your credit standing.

Another option is to seek out your FICO® scores — scores based on credit-scoring models created by the Fair Isaac Corporation (“FICO” … get it?). And fortunately, you can access your FICO® scores for free in several different places.

What’s the difference between VantageScore and FICO?

The major difference between VantageScore and FICO is the scoring models they use to determine your credit scores. The scoring models are largely based on your credit reports. While they look at similar factors when calculating your scores, different factors — like credit usage, payment history, credit types and more — can be weighed differently. VantageScore is a collaboration between the three main consumer credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

How you can get your FICO® scores free

FICO works with more than 200 financial institutions to provide free access to FICO® scores for consumer accounts. If you’ve found yourself asking, “What’s my FICO® score?”, walk with us through six ways that you can get your FICO® scores for free.

  1. Discover Credit Scorecard
  2. American Express® credit cards
  3. Citibank® credit cards
  4. Bank of America
  5. Credit unions
  6. Ally Bank

1. Discover Credit Scorecard

One of the best ways to access your FICO® credit score for free is through Discover Credit Scorecard. This program is free whether you are a Discover customer or not.

To get started, you’ll be asked for some personal information, including your Social Security number. Then you will be asked a few questions to help verify your identity. You might be wondering how this will affect your credit. Since there is no hard inquiry, it won’t have a negative effect on your credit. And — luckily — this is the situation for all six ways on our list to access your FICO® scores for free.

With the Discover Credit Scorecard, your score is updated every 30 days, and you will never be penalized for checking your score. While you are working to build your credit, you can use the Discover Credit Scorecard to help track your FICO® score.

In addition to having access to your free FICO® credit score each month, you will be able to learn more about the factors that make up your scores. Discover Credit Scorecard can help you dive into the things that are helping your credit score, as well as what might be keeping your score down.

2. American Express® credit cards

American Express gives cardholders access to their free FICO® score, as well as 12 months of FICO® score history. The FICO® score provided is based on your Experian® credit report. Your FICO® score is available through your online American Express account and gets updated periodically.

3. Citibank® credit cards

Another credit card issuer that will provide your FICO® score for free (for select Citi cards) is Citibank. Scores are based on your Equifax® credit reports and they update on a monthly basis.

4. Bank of America

Bank of America offers eligible cardholders free access to their FICO® score. The score provided is based on your TransUnion® credit report and updated each month. Plus you will also have access to a couple of useful charts.

The first tracks your recent scores over time, so you can see how you’ve been performing month to month. This can be helpful if you’ve been working to boost your credit. The second chart will show national FICO® score averages. This allows you to compare your score against others.

5. Credit unions

If you don’t like using credit cards, another option for getting your FICO® scores for free is through a credit union. Not all of them offer this benefit, but if you belong to one, it’s worth checking. A couple of larger credit unions that offer free FICO® scores are Navy Federal Credit Union and DCU Credit Union.

6. Ally Bank

If you’re planning to purchase a new car, Ally Bank will provide you with a free FICO® score when you use Ally Auto Online Services or use the Ally Auto Mobile Pay app.

Next steps

Understanding your credit scores, including your FICO® credit scores, plays a big part in getting a handle on your overall financial health. Your credit scores could affect your borrowing costs when you purchase a new car or home, for example. With so many different ways to access your FICO® scores for free, you have the ability to stay informed and make any necessary changes to help ensure a strong financial future for yourself.

About the author: Sean Bryant is a Denver-based freelance writer specializing in personal finance, credit cards and travel. With nearly 10 years of writing experience, his work has appeared in many of the industry’s top publications. S… Read more.