Should I Pay to Check My Credit Score?

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Should I Pay to Check My Credit Score?

Is it worth it to pay to view your personal credit score? The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) does enable organizations to charge you to see your credit score, so you may not have a choice in certain situations, particularly if you need to restore damaged credit. 1 However, there are free methods to see your credit score, which is sufficient for many individuals.

It is important to understand that a credit score is not the same as a credit report. According to the law, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report once a year. 2

Key Takeaways

  • Your credit score is a digitized version of your credit report.
  • All three main credit agencies provide free credit reports once a year.
  • A handful of credit card firms provide free access to your credit score on a regular basis.

Credit Score vs. Credit Report

A credit score is a numerical assessment of your creditworthiness based on your credit history. Your credit score is a numerical representation of the information in your credit report. The higher your credit score, the better your credit report.

A credit report is a detailed description of your credit history generated by one of the three main credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You may get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three organizations once a year. Simply go to the government-approved website and follow the easy steps. 3

One Score Matters Most

Other firms promote their own versions of credit scores, but only one score is important: your FICO score. (The Fair Isaac Corporation, the data analytics firm that created the FICO score, is now now known as FICO.) 4

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According to Mercator Advisory Group study from 2016, about 90% of all loan decisions use a FICO score. 5 As a result, if you’re going to pay for a score, it should be for that one. There are, however, methods to get your score for free.

Free Sources of Credit Scores

A rising number of credit card providers offer your FICO score for free. They are as follows:

  • Barclaycard US6
  • Discover7
  • First National Bank of Omaha8
  • Citibank9
  • Chase10
  • Bank of America11

Remember that FICO ratings are based on a single credit report from a single credit agency, not all three. TransUnion scores, for example, are provided by Discover. 7 However, the disparities in scores should be small.

When You Get a Home or an Auto Loan

If you’ve applied for a large purchase, the lender that retrieved your credit report will almost certainly provide you a copy of your score if you ask. If your credit application is denied or you obtain less-than-favorable conditions as a consequence of your score, you are entitled to receive your score. 1213

Check your FICO score six months before making a large purchase.

You Don’t Really Have to Know It

Your FICO score is a terrific method to rapidly assess the state of your credit, but it is only a reflection of your credit reports, which you can get for free once a year. If you obtain all three reports once a year, properly study them, and correct any errors, your credit score is unlikely to reveal anything new to you.

Some exceptions exist. If you have bad credit, your credit score is a simple method to track your progress while you strive to fix it. It’s also a good idea to check your credit score six months or more before making a significant purchase to ensure you obtain the best potential interest rates on a vehicle loan or mortgage.

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If you must pay, a one-time request for your FICO score will cost you about $20. 14 FICO also offers monthly credit monitoring programs, including Basic ($19.95 per month), Advanced ($29.95 per month), and Premier ($39.95 per month). 15 However, in most circumstances, examining your credit report once a year would enough.

What’s a Good Credit Score?

FICO credit ratings vary from 300 to 850, with 300 to 579 being bad, 580 to 669 being fair, 670 to 739 being good, 740 to 799 being very good, and 800 and above being outstanding. 16

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