Understanding your credit score is not always a simple or easy task. The confusion is compounded by the fact that many people use the one term “credit score” to mean both the types of credit scores offered by the main reporting bureaus and your FICO score. However, when it comes to credit reporting, not all scores are created equally.
If you search for “free credit reports” you will likely come across many ways to access your scores from Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion (sometimes VantageScores), but none of these reporting agencies will be able to singularly give you your FICO score.
Finding Your FICO Score Online
Unlike the free reports you obtain from the major credit reporting bureaus, there is not really a way you can obtain a truly free FICO score. Probably the most used source for finding FICO scores online is myFICO, an online company with a trusted reputation, and is even recommended by USA.gov as the source for obtaining your FICO score. There are several different levels of subscriptions for myFICO, paying either per month or per year.
Users can, however, sign up for a free trial membership, good for just 10 days, and request their FICO scores under the Score Watch plan. This plan includes access to your FICO score, as well as alerts to when your credit report and FICO score change, or when you might be eligible for lower interest rates. If after those ten days the membership is not cancelled, users will be charged the regular monthly fee until you cancel the subscription. Some of the other features included in myFICO plans include the options to monitor your identity for identity theft and mobile alerts when your scores change.
There are other services available online from which you can request your FICO score, but all will come with a fee.
Equifax Credit Watch Gold with 3-in-1 Monitoring – This service is offered by Equifax, one of the three main credit reporting bureaus. When you sign up for a thirty day trial plan you get a “free” FICO credit score as well as a credit report summary. You will be charged a monthly service fee if you don’t cancel your subscription before the end of the thirty days.
Your bank – While it is not the typical practice, you can request a copy of your FICO score from your banking institution. This is most often done when the individual knows that the bank has already recently conducted the inquiry, and it will already be reflected on your overall credit history. Don’t ask your bank to make one on your behalf unless you are applying for a loan, otherwise your credit history could reflect a hard credit inquiry that negatively impacts your credit score.
Just be leery of the monthly subscription services because more often than not, they are simply not needed. Your money and time would be better spent elsewhere than a monthly FICO monitoring service.
A completely free annual service is available at the website Annualcreditreport.com that allows you to request a free credit file disclosure, commonly called a credit report, once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. AnnualCreditReport.com is the official site to help consumers to obtain their free credit report, but does not provide you with FICO monitoring services.