Free Credit Score

Before we get started, take note that there is no truly “free credit score.”

You might be able to view your credit score for free for a limited period of time, but typically this privilege requires enrollment in a credit score monitoring program.

It’s not necessarily a bad deal, as you can cancel during the trial period without risk, but it’s important to point out that it’s not really “free.”

And it will cost you if you don’t stay on top of it and cancel your subscription before the first charge rolls along.

[Which credit bureau is most important?]

Some Companies Offer Free Credit Scores to Customers

However, there are a few companies that provide free credit scores to their customers.

American Express actually allows card holders to take a look at their Experian credit score and credit report for free for 30 days with no strings.

After that point, you can continue to view your credit score if you enroll in the company’s credit monitoring program.

So in reality, it’s temporarily free, but not really a free credit score you can continuously monitor. And they’re trying to get you to use their credit monitoring product in return.

However, recently three major credit card companies began offering free FICO scores to cardholders. If you have a Barclaycard, a Discover it card, or a First National Bank of Omaha issued credit card, you can check out your real FICO credit score for free each month.

It should appear on your billing statement each month along with all your credit card info.  There are no strings attached, so enjoy it!

There Is Not a Free Credit Score from the Government!

Also keep in mind that the free government credit reports don’t contain free credit scores. They simply contain your credit history, which includes open and closed credit accounts, both those in good standing and those not, along with recent credit inquiries.

These credit reports can certainly give you an idea as to where you stand credit-wise, but you won’t know for certain if your credit score is excellent or just average.

Lastly, thanks to a new credit reporting rule set to go into effect in July 2011, if you’re denied credit or given less favorable terms because of a credit score-related issue, there’s a good chance the creditor will send you your credit score in the mail shortly after.

This is one way to get a free credit score, though it kind of defeats the purpose of viewing your score, as you’d likely want to know what that score is before getting denied or receiving adverse terms.

The good news is that the credit score they send you will be the actual credit score used to determine your creditworthiness, not the quasi-consumer credit scores that some companies market as free credit scores.

Tip: Try to find a service that provides all 3 credit scores so you can see where you stand with all the major credit reporting agencies.