Updated 2017. As noted, the government requires the credit bureaus to provide you a free credit report once every 12 months from AnnualCreditReport.com. However, checking your credit score on a regular basis allows you to track changes in your credit data much more frequently.
The services listed below provide you a free credit score updated throughout the year (at varying intervals). Besides just a score, many include data taken directly from your credit reports like account balances, credit inquiries, and any negative marks. Some even offer free daily credit monitoring with e-mail alerts.
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. As of February 2017, all three major credit bureaus are covered: Experian, Equifax, TransUnion.
CreditSesame.com offers a free credit score every month, either 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. Range is from 300-850. They also offer free daily credit monitoring, either via e-mail alerts or smartphone app. They make money with ads on the site.
No trial or credit card required. You will need to provide your personal information and Social Security number to some of these companies, naturally, so be comfortable with that. None of these methods by themselves will affect your credit score as you are requesting them for yourself.
And now, for a limited time, Credit Sesame is offering $50,000 in identity theft insurance and access to identity restoration help for FREE.
Quizzle.com offers a free credit score based on your Equifax credit report (VantageScore), updated once every 6 months. They also provide a free, full copy of your Equifax credit report once every six months. No trial or credit card required. The score scale is also 300-850. Quizzle is also ad-supported; they are under the same umbrella as Quicken Loans, which explains I’m offered a mortgage quote every time I log in. 😉
CreditKarma.com offers you two free credit scores, based on your TransUnion and Equifax credit reports and updated weekly. Range is 300-850. You can also opt-in to free daily credit monitoring based on your TransUnion data. No trial or credit card required. Credit Karma is also ad-supported; I’m usually pitched various credit cards.
LendingTree.com offers a free credit score based on your TransUnion credit report (VantageScore), updated once a month. Range is from 300-850. LendingTree is another mortgage broker, I guess buying a home is one of the main reasons why people check their scores.
Credit.com offers a free credit score based on your Experian credit report (VantageScore), updated once a month. Range is from 300-850. Credit.com is ad-supported; I’m usually pitched various credit cards.
Free Monthly FICO Score
It is often pointed out that the scores above are not FICO scores. No, they are not FICO scores because Fair Isaac charges a lot more money for them and these companies can’t cover those costs with their advertising. However, these 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.
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. 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 score. You must call 1.888.577.5978 to cancel but will be charged each month you renew.