Your FICO scores, also known as your credit scores, are important, as they help creditors and others determine whether you'll make your payments in a timely fashion. Credit scores are determined by each of the three credit reporting bureaus—Trans Union, Equifax, and Experian—whose calculations are based on Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) methodology. However, their numbers differ somewhat. You can obtain these scores from several sources, but only one offers the best, no obligation deal.
You can purchase your credit scores directly from the three credit reporting bureaus by visiting their websites for that information. However, you may find that you'll have to cut through a maze of other information including credit monitoring services, 3-in-1 credit reports, and other products. Once you find how to obtain your credit score, make a note of that price. It is available elsewhere, so keep reading.
The company who developed current credit scoring methodology, Fair Isaac Corporation, lets you buy your Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union scores directly from them. But just like the credit bureaus, they have a lot of other products they want to sell for you, making it difficult to find your scores. When found, you'll wonder if what they're offering to you is the best price. It isn't, so please keep reading.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) thanks to an act of Congress requires that Equifax, Trans Union, and Experian offer to American consumers one free copy of their credit report annually to them on demand. As a result of the law, the three credit reporting bureaus formed a website to make credit reports available to consumers for free. That site is AnnualCreditReport.com. Credit scores, however, are extra. But, they're also offered for a lower price than what you can get directly from the credit reporting bureaus or from the Fair Isaac Corporation. This is where you want to go to get your free credit reports and pay the least for your credit scores.
Tips and Warnings
You can get your credit score for free if you apply for a mortgage. Your lender will tell you your score when offering you a loan. Watch out for free sites that claim to offer free credit scores or free credit reports as they often include strings with their offers. According to the FTC, “Other websites that claim to offer “free credit reports,” “free credit scores,” or “free credit monitoring” are not part of the legally mandated free annual credit report program.” Most aren't illegal but consumer advocates warn against them.
- FCIC.gov: Your Credit Scores
- FTC.gov: Your Access to Free Credit Reports
- Los Angeles Times: Free Credit Report Could Cost You
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "What Is the Difference Between a Credit Report and a Credit Score?" Accessed March 14, 2020.
- MyFICO. "What's In My FICO Scores?" Accessed March 14, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "How Do I Get a Copy of My Credit Reports?" Accessed March 14, 2020.
- Credit Karma. "Credit Scores and More." Accessed March 14, 2020.
- Mint. "Unlimited Credit Scores." Accessed March 14, 2020.
Charles Green is a freelance writer in North Carolina who has been writing since 1992 and freelancing since 2002. His work appears in "435 South Magazine," "Wisconsin Golfer" and for various websites. Green earned a Bacheler of Science in business administration from Ramapo College of New Jersey.