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Why you should never pay to see your credit score

·3 min read
Why you should never pay to see your credit score
Why you should never pay to see your credit score

Your credit score — a three-digit number that's calculated from your credit history and is necessary for credit card or mortgage applications — used to be difficult to access.

In the past, you might have held off on trying to check your credit score because you didn't want to pay upwards of $15 for the service.

Well, good news: Companies are making it easier than ever to obtain a free credit score, and you can get one in a few different ways.

1. Get a free credit score online

Close-up Of A Businesswoman Checking Credit Score On Computer At Workplace
Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock

You can receive free credit scores from a number of online providers that also provide credit monitoring. All you have to do is sign up for the service, and you'll get a free VantageScore credit score — along with access to free credit monitoring.

These online services provide immediate access to a credit score from at least one of the three major credit bureaus — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax — giving you an accurate picture of your credit status.

You'll also gain valuable insight about the things that are affecting your score, and receive personalized recommendations on how to use your credit more wisely.

Just be wary of any provider that asks for credit card information.

Remember, looking into your credit score does not count as a hard inquiry into your credit and is not one of the factors that will affect your score.

2. Credit scores through credit card issuers

Stack of multicolored credit cards close-up
lentamart / Shutterstock

If you have a credit card, you might be in luck. Several card issuers provide credit scores for cardholders as a perk, but it's important to know that most of these services only refresh once per month.

Issuers might include:

  • American Express: Free monthly FICO score, the most common type of credit score.

  • Barclays: Free FICO scores plus credit monitoring.

  • Capital One: Free VantageScore 3.0 credit score through its CreditWise monitoring tool.

  • Discover: Provides a FICO score with each monthly statement.

  • Chase: Provides all cardholders with online access to their FICO score.

If you don't already have access to a rewards credit card, there are tons with no monthly fee and excellent rewards like cash back, or travel points. Access to your credit score is a nice plus.

3. When taking out a loan

Back view of happy family is standing near their modern house and hugging
4 PM production / Shutterstock

If you're one of the many Americans rushing to apply for a mortgage while rates are at all-time lows, you'll receive your credit score as part of the application process.

Applying for personal loans will also net you access to a credit score. If you apply for a loan and your application is denied, the lender is required by law to show you your credit score.

The lender will also let you know which of the major credit bureaus provided your credit report. If you're not satisfied with the result, you can get a copy of your credit report at no extra charge.

Remember, you can also request your credit report from any of the major credit bureaus once every 12 months. Credit reports do not include your credit score.

Why you need to know your credit score

It's important to have access to your credit score and your credit history so you can ensure you get the best deal from lenders. Monitoring your credit situation lets you know when you're off track, and you can start on fixing your credit score fast.

Since lenders rely on credit scores to decide on whether to do business with you, keeping tabs on your score will offer you a good idea of your chances of getting a new credit card or other loan approved.

If you don't currently know your credit score, make sure to get your free credit score today.