A good credit score is the key that unlocks the door to better loan terms, an improved chance of getting a rental apartment and even the odds of landing a job.
So, this three-digit number packs a punch. Knowing it is an important part of keeping your finances on solid ground, and if you find it’s lackluster, you can then take steps to improve your credit score.
In the past, you’d have to pay to see your credit score. But that has changed. Today, you can get a free FICO score — the most widely used credit score — from any of the following sources.
1. Credit cards
Through the FICO Score Open Access program, FICO works with more than 200 financial institutions to provide their partners’ customers with free access to credit scores. The following credit card issuers are among those participating in the program:
If you have student loans, an auto loan or a mortgage, you may also be able to get a free FICO score through your lender. Here are a few of the loan companies that have partnered with the FICO Score Open Access program:
- Sallie Mae
- Best Egg
- Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance
3. Banks and credit unions
Dozens of banks and credit unions across the country also offer access to free FICO scores through FICO Open Access. These include both large and small institutions. Here are a few examples:
- Regions Bank
- Bank of America
- Affinity Federal Credit Union
Depending on the institution, free scores may only be available to customers enrolled in certain products, and the program may change.
4. Credit counselors
If you’re using the services of a credit-counseling program to improve your finances, you may be eligible for a free FICO score through that organization via the FICO Score Open Access program.
Partner organizations include companies with national or regional clients.
These are a few of the credit counseling organizations offering free FICO scores:
- Operation Hope
- Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Savannah
The credit reporting company Experian offers free access to FICO credit scores through its website FreeCreditScore.com.
You won’t have to enter any credit card information to create a free account and see your FICO score. The company says it does not sell your information to third parties. It updates scores every 30 days.
6. Credit applications
A sometimes overlooked option for getting a free credit score is simply to ask to see it when applying for a loan.
If your credit is being pulled by a dealership, mortgage lender or bank, see if they will be willing to share your score with you. While this won’t work for an automated credit application, such as for a credit card, it is an option anytime you have contact with a company representative.
Keep in mind, though, that a major reason for checking your score is to provide you time to repair or boost your credit score before applying for a loan. If possible, try one of the other options on this list first.
You could also go directly to FICO to get your score for free. The company recently announced it was offering everyone the opportunity to check their FICO 8 score at no cost.
In addition to your credit score, FICO is providing a free monthly Equifax credit report and free credit monitoring from Equifax. No credit card is required to take advantage of this offer.