Where To Get Your Real Credit Score

Finding your credit score can be hard if you’ve never done it before. There’s scam sites, conflicting information, and the credit bureaus offering their own version of the credit score. But if you want your FICO, the real score looked at by lenders to determine your credit-worthiness and interest rates, here’s where you can go:

Equifax sells a score for $7.95 when bought in combo with your free credit report from annualcreditreport.com. At Equifax.com, they sell one for $15.95 and it comes with other info. There’s also myFICO.com, where it’s $15.95 for one bureau’s score, $47.85 for all three.

Be careful to read all the small and fine print and make sure you’re not also getting signed up for a monthly service.

Comments

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  1. MercuryPDX says:

    My “points branded” credit card (Through Providian/WAMU) gives me my Fico score for free, and even sends me an alert if it spikes 30 points in either direction. I’m currently sitting comfy at 753.

  2. Caroofikus says:

    If you’re an AMEX customer, you can got to [www.americanexpress.com] and get unlimited score updates and credit reports for just $11.99 a month.

  3. WayDownRiver says:

    $11.99 a month?!?!

    I think it’s pretty outrageous that a number score which essentially determines your financial life isn’t available free of charge–at least once a year.

    Another place where there oughta be a law.

  4. Matt Saracen says:

    @MercuryPDX:

    That’s the only reason I still have my Providian card. Definitely a nice perk.

  5. skittlbrau says:

    @WayDownRiver: But the information used to build that score is available for free. If something is wrong with it, you can know.

  6. JeffM says:

    @baa:
    True, I guess you could just figure it out at home with a pocket calculator! ;)

    The problem here is that the methodology of scoring is a bit less than transparent _AND_ you don’t have free-of-cost access to your score; which as WayDownRiver stated is a key metric when lenders are evaluating your credit worthiness.

  7. gniterobot says:

    Lot’s of companies dangle free scores for trial memberships. But be ready to cancel ASAP or you’ll get locked into 20+ bucks a month.

  8. noquarter says:

    @Caroofikus: With at least some of the AMEX cards (I’m thinking of Clear specifically) you can get the score once per year for free.

  9. DudeLebowski says:

    @baa: There’s no way to figure out the FICO score on your own. The formula is kept pretty much under wraps and as I understand it, quite complicated.

  10. azntg says:

    WaMu/Providian credit cards actually gives you a card-enhanced FICO score (the score is biased towards credit card-issuing creditors) for only one credit reporting agency. So, it may not be that FICO score the creditors might use to make a decision on approval and on rate. But hey, it’s for free! Why not?

    On the other hand, it’s been released that there’s more than just FICO scores that are involved in credit decisions. I think an article posted on MSN Money disclosed that there’s about 7-8 credit rating scores (if not more) in addition to the classic FICO score, that are NOT disclosed to the general public are used for credit decisions.

  11. anatak says:

    @WayDownRiver: I may be wrong, but it was the FRCA or another law like it that gave you the ability to even see your score or report.

    And BTW, a credit score does not determine your financial life. You do. A credit score is merely your ‘creditworthiness’ as determined by people you’ve never met and know very little about you. It is not a measure of winning or success. It has, in recent years, been misconstrued into industries like auto insurance to help determine your premiums. There should be some laws around that.

  12. babaki says:

    @anatak: it might be nice to think to yourself that your credit score doesnt matter, but it in fact does. and its becoming more and more prevalent in everything you do. believe it or not, some companies check your credit score before hiring you.

  13. WisconsinDadof2 says:

    @AZNTG – good point, and it isn’t just FICO that has multiple scores. A couple years ago, I was using MS Money, which had one year of free Experian score monitoring. When I took out a mortgage, and they sent me the documents, the credit score number was right there, but it was much different (729 on the report, vs. 750-something on the other side). When I asked the mortgage company about it, they told me that there are “a number” of different scoring methodologies for each agency. Just food for thought.

  14. Mr. Gunn says:

    In general, services provided as a account benefit are cheaper, but they usually offer FAKO scores…which are probably good enough unless you’re about to buy a house or something.

  15. SadSam says:

    A FICO score should be free once a year – its my score I should be able to access it without paying the credit lords.

  16. JeffM says:

    @Mr. Gunn:
    The WAMU provided scores are actually FICO scores, but it is true that many easily accessible credit scores are more or less worthless.

  17. Yep says:

    So, is this a contest?
    956 experian, 962 transunion
    boo-ya!

    (little known fact: just typing the word boo-ya actually improves your credit score.)

  18. beavis512 says:

    @YEP:
    Even though the highest actual FICO score is 850, mine has increased to 979.

  19. iamme99 says:

    I thought the highest credit score possible was 800. 956 & 962 don’t sound exactly kosher.

  20. JeffM says:

    @Yep:

    Yep- I think all you proved is that you’re paying money for fake credit scores! Whoops!

    That is what this post is all about!

    True FICOs range between 300 and 850.

    Boo-ya!

  21. GreatMoose says:

    @Yep:

    Um, don;t credit scores only go up to 850? (Or perhaps my humor detector is in disrepair)

  22. GreatMoose says:

    Ah. Nevermind. Well played.

  23. mac-phisto says:

    But if you want your FICO, the real score looked at by lenders to determine your credit-worthiness and interest rates

    WRONG! ok. not entirely wrong, but not entirely correct either. first, you’re peddling the assumption that there’s ONE FICO score. guess what…there’s not. you’ve got your classic FICO, your next-gen FICO, your attrition FICO, your FICO revenue score & then there’s the whole slew of custom scores that can be tailor made depending on your needs within the industry: [www.fairisaac.com]

    then there’s the non-FICO scores provided by other vendors, tri-merge scores, yadd-yadda. this is why an afternoon car shopping could result in you having 19 different scores at 19 different dealers. or could be why bank of america will give you a $10,000 credit line but chase won’t give you dill.

  24. Yep says:

    @iamme99: True, for FICO scores – but Experian, Equifax and TransUnion have begun using Vantage scores, which go from 501 to 990 and look at 6 variables vs the 5 FICO does. They basically want to take more control over the scoring from Fair Isaac’s FICO system. Who knows which one is more “accurate.” It’s all still behind the curtain calculations that determine the rates and products we each have access to.

    @JeffM: Sure, say its all hokum… But I notice you used my magic boo-ya chant juuust in case. Boo-ya!

  25. MarkMadsen'sDanceInstructor says:

    Those Vantage scores are a joke though because lenders don’t rely on Vantage scores to decide on your creditworthiness, they use FICOs.

    Still, its not hard to improve your FICOs if you’re willing to be patient and wait. I went from about 720 a year ago to a 784 recently. Not that anything above 750 means anything, since the lowest rates are given to anyone with a FICO above 750.

  26. mac-phisto says:

    @Jeff from LA: actually, my car loan is thru a lender that uses a blended rate that includes vantage, PLUS & FICO, so no…they’re not a joke.

    this section from truecredit (TU’s consumer face) says it all:

    Your credit scores can also vary a bit due to differences in the credit scoring formulas being used. There are thousands of distinct credit scoring formulas used by creditors, lenders and insurers to evaluate your creditworthiness. These scores may evaluate your credit report differently in order to match the company’s specific lending guidelines. Consumer credit scores that you can purchase online use formulas that approximate the most common credit scoring algorithm.

    [www.truecredit.com]

  27. AndrewJC says:

    Chalk me up as another person who thinks it’s absolute bull that the law states that you’re allowed to get a copy of your credit report once per annum but you have to fork over fifty bucks to get a credit score.

    The irony of the situation is that your FICO score is far more likely to be used in determining whether you get credit than your credit reports are. The credit reports simply detail WHY your credit score is what it is.

  28. DjDynasty says:

    I’ve purchased items before at Dealerships, and they have had the complete detailed credit report, needing explanations about stuff. Now, I just delete what I don’t like.

    Don’t feel like paying wal-mart? Just delete the credit card and perma block it. Get a car or 12 repossessed? Block it off of your credit report also.

  29. dale3h says:

    @WayDownRiver: American Express has some certain cards, specifically the Clear from American Express, that has the benefit of a free credit score once annually.

  30. Noah_Bodie says:

    It is true there’s more than just one FICO score, but you cannot buy FICO industry scores, NextGen scores or Attrition scores. At least not yet.

    Lenders are desperate to send FICO packing and use their own scoring methods and algorithms, and some lenders (like AMEX) already do use their own internal systems. But they are in the minority.

    More scores is good for lenders, bad for consumers. The more different scores you have to track, then the more likely a lender can find a score to use to declare you subprime and ratejack you.

  31. 3drage says:

    Yeah, most places that I’ve look into for loans give me the line of bull “We do not use FICO, we use our own calculations to base your rates off of.” Which pretty much translates into “You’ve done a great job keeping your credit score up, but we’re still going to bend you over backwards.” Credit is a complete sham.

  32. odoketa says:

    I called my bank and applied for preapproval on a mortgage, then asked him to tell me what scores he had pulled back. It was free, and if I don’t take the loan out, will remain free. Downside: after a certain period of time it will count as a check on my credit, but I don’t really think it matters unless you’re going to get a loan soon-ish, but not soon.

  33. SpdRacer says:

    @babaki: Which is complete and utter bullcrap, my credit score is no reflection of my ability to do my job!

  34. the_wiggle says:

    @MercuryPDX: yep. quite nice of’m to do that. only reason i kept that card given the insane interest rate on it.

  35. the_wiggle says:

    @skittlbrau = baa: not good enough as i get no say in how that same data set is massaged to create the variety of “scores” that can be gotten by the various methods.

    ex. my providian/wamu score is 10 pts above what my credit monitor (via experian) lists.

    ideal: 1 method, 1 score. 2x free per year.

  36. the_wiggle says:

    @SpdRacer: or my ability to drive safely, cover minor repairs etc.