Updated 2017. As noted, the government requires the credit bureaus to provide you a free credit report once every 12 months from AnnualCreditReport.com. Ideally, you should check in more frequently. The services listed below provide you a free credit score updated throughout the year either daily, weekly, or monthly. Most offer additional data taken directly from your credit reports, while some even offer free daily credit monitoring or free identity protection services.
As of April 2017, all three major credit bureaus are covered: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. You do not need to already have a specific credit card. Being ad-supported, they can do so without the hassle of annoying trial membership offers, requiring credit card numbers, or having to remember to cancel anything.
CreditSesame.com offers a free credit score every month, based on your TransUnion credit report (VantageScore). They used Experian data in the past, but it appears that most members have been migrated over to Transunion. Score range is 300-850. They only require the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number. No trial or credit card required.
- Free daily credit monitoring. Credit Sesame also offers free daily credit monitoring of your TransUnion data, with alerts coming via e-mail, text, or smartphone app. This service tracks more than 40 different credit activities such as a balance change, address change or when a new account is opened.
- Free identity protection and restoration services. Credit Sesame also includes $50,000 in identity theft insurance and access to identity restoration support in their free membership level.
CreditKarma.com offers you two free credit scores, based on your TransUnion and Equifax credit reports and updated weekly (VantageScore). Score range is 300-850. They only require the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number. No trial or credit card required. The two-in-one feature is nice.
- Free credit monitoring. Credit Karma also offers free e-mail credit monitoring alerts of your TransUnion data.
FreeCreditScore.com offers a free credit score every month, based on your Experian credit report (FICO 08). Score range is 300-850. They require your full Social Security Number. No trial or credit card required.
- Free credit monitoring. They also offer free e-mail credit monitoring alerts of your Experian data.
WalletHub.com offers a free credit score based on your TransUnion credit report (VantageScore), updated daily. They also provide access to your full TransUnion credit report daily (although it may not be updated that often). Score range is 300-850. They only require the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number. No trial or credit card required.
Your Existing Credit Card
I wouldn’t sign up for a new credit card just for a credit score, but if you already have one, check to see if it offers a free monthly credit score as a perk:
- Free FICO Score from American Express Credit Cards
- Free FICO Score from Bank of America Credit Cards
- Free FICO Score from Barclaycard Credit Cards
- Free FICO Score from Chase Credit Cards
- Free FICO Score from Citi Credit Cards
- Free FICO Score from Discover Credit Cards
Some may point out that many of the scores above are not FICO scores. No, they are not FICO scores because Fair Isaac charges more money for them and these companies can’t cover those costs with their advertising. However, these free credit scores can still be very useful for tracking changes and general trends in your credit history. Free credit monitoring is also a great way to track any big changes including fraudulent activity. There is value in getting an e-mail notification whenever a new account is added to my report. If you really need a FICO score right now…
Discounted One-Time FICO Score
Finally, if you want a discounted FICO score without having to sign up for a new credit card, you will need both a credit card and sign up for a trial. This should be reserved for cases where you really want your FICO score because your applying for a new home mortgage or auto loan. You can sign up for a month of ScoreWatch at MyFICO.com for $19.95. You’ll get an instant free Equifax credit report and Equifax FICO credit scores based on multiple FICO score models. You must call 1.888.577.5978 to cancel but will be charged each month you renew.