There’s a lot of buzz about credit scores these days, mainly because a good credit score can save you a lot of money on interest and insurance, while a bad credit score can cost you big.
So if you’re curious to know where you stand on the credit score scale, you’ll need to get a hold of your credit score. The easiest way to do this is via a free trial website.
Get Your Credit Score for Free
There are a ton of companies out there that offer a so-called “free credit score” if you sign up for an opt-out credit score monitoring program or some other type of recurring service. You usually get access to your credit score for a week or a month, at which point you must cancel to avoid being charged a monthly fee.
This is why a credit card is required at the time of “purchase.” Even though they advertise it as “free” and don’t charge you right off the bat, they need to have your billing information on file when the trial period ends and the recurring billing begins.
As long as you’re responsible and stay on top of your subscription, it’s pretty easy to view your credit score and cancel without paying a dime. All you have to do generally is call up the company and tell them you want to cancel before the trial ends. Sure, they’ll probably ask you why and urge you to stay, but as long as you’re firm, you’ll be able to cancel with no obligation.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to cancel online without even picking up the phone with no fuss whatsoever. Assuming they do jerk you around, you’ve always got your credit card issuer on your side to defend you. So don’t fret.
No Free Government Credit Score!
Keep in mind that there is no, I repeat no free credit score from the government. People always seem to think this is the case, but it’s really just a free credit report. And that credit report doesn’t contain a credit score (free or otherwise) of any kind.
I think this has to do with the fact that the credit reporting agencies sell credit scores, and if the government were to provide them free of charge, these companies wouldn’t have much of an incentive to keep collecting our data every month.
Do note that when you order a free credit report from the government, you’ll be offered the chance to view your credit score as well for a charge of $10 or so. You can go this route, but as mentioned earlier, there are better ways to get your credit score without paying for it. So why bother throwing away your hard-earned money?
A Few More Ways to Get Your Credit Score
There are a few more ways to get your credit score without a credit card. If you apply for credit and receive less favorable terms because of your credit score, or are denied outright, the creditor will likely send you a copy of the credit score they used for the decision in the mail. Obviously this isn’t the best way to get your credit score for free, but it’s still one way of viewing it.
Another way is when you apply for a car loan/lease or mortgage, the company pulling your credit will generally give you a copy as well so you can see where you stand. This may or may not include a credit report, and the credit score may be industry specific. But it will still give you a good understanding of your credit standing.
Finally, you can get free quasi-credit scores via companies like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame, which both provide so-called Fako scores. And these don’t even require a credit card!
There’s also the Fico Score Estimator from Fico, which asks you a series of questions and comes up with a credit score estimate. This isn’t a real Fico score, but it’ll give you an idea as to where you stand credit score-wise.