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Knowing your credit score is a must for staying in the know about your current credit health, especially if you’re looking to apply for a mortgage, car loan or credit card in the near future. The good news is it’s never been easier to check your credit score, thanks to the many different online tools and services available at your fingertips. The best part? You can check your score without worrying about hurting it.
Checking your score is only considered a “soft” inquiry, meaning your credit information is retrieved solely for your benefit, without negative influence on your score. This is different from when lenders seek your credit information. When you apply for a new line of credit, lenders use a “hard” inquiry to check your report, which can, in turn, hurt your score.
Free online credit score tools
It’s now easier than ever to keep a close eye on your credit score. With helpful online tools, you can see what your score is within seconds, at no charge to you.
One example is My LendingTree, which allows you to access your credit score for free at any time without affecting your score. (Note: ValuePenguin is owned by LendingTree.) Updated on a monthly basis, this online tool also helps steer you in the right direction when it comes to learning about the factors that can affect your score. It also provides you with helpful tips on raising your score from average to good and possibly beyond.
There are other companies that offer similar online credit score tools as well, such as Credit Karma and Credit.com. Customers can sign up for and use these sites to gain access to their credit score whenever needed, while also obtaining more details about their overall credit report.
Some of the most common online credit score tools can be found in the table below, along with the company that offers them and the credit bureaus each uses. As you can see, some companies update credit scores on a weekly basis, while others provide updated scores every month. Many companies also offer credit monitoring, although it isn’t always free. This can allow these companies to keep an eye on any suspicious activity on your report and immediately alert you if something out of the ordinary comes up.
|Company||Credit Bureau/ Model||Update Frequency||Credit Monitoring?|
|My LendingTree||TransUnion VantageScore 3.0||Monthly||Yes|
|Credit Karma||TransUnion and Equifax VantageScore 3.0||Weekly||Yes|
|Credit Sesame||TransUnion VantageScore 3.0||Monthly||Yes|
|Credit Scorecard from Discover||Experian FICO Score 8||Monthly||No|
|CreditWise from Capital One||TransUnion VantageScore 3.0||Weekly||Yes|
|Bankrate||TransUnion VantageScore 3.0||Monthly||No|
|Mint||TransUnion VantageScore 3.0||Not available||Yes|
|Credit.com||Experian VantageScore 3.0||14 days||Yes — but there appears to be a fee|
|Chase Credit Journey||TransUnion VantageScore 3.0||7 days||Not available|
|Experian||Experian FICO Score 8||30 days||Yes|
Tools from your bank or credit card issuer
While there are many companies that can provide you with your credit score and report online, that’s not necessarily the only route you can take. Many banks or credit card issuers offer these helpful tools to current members. Banks and credit card issuers, for example, usually provide these services free of charge to those who have an account with them.
|Company||Who’s Eligible?||Credit Model||Update Frequency||Credit Monitoring?||Type of Credit Report|
|PenFed Credit Union||Current active members||FICO Score 9||Not available||No||Equifax|
|SunTrust’s FICO Score Program||SunTrust credit card holders||FICO Bankcard Score 8||Monthly||No||Equifax|
|Digital Federal Credit Union||Current Credit union members||FICO Score 5||Monthly||No||Equifax|
|American Express MyCredit Guide||American Express cardholders||FICO Score 8||Monthly||No||Experian|
|Wells Fargo Smarter Credit Center||Current customers who are enrolled in online banking||FICO Score 9||Monthly||No||Experian|
|Chase Slate®* Credit Dashboard||Chase Slate®* cardholders||FICO Score 8||Monthly||No||Experian|
|Bank of America||Bank of America credit card customers||FICO Score 8||Monthly||No||TransUnion|
|Sallie Mae||Sallie Mae borrowers and cosigners with current student loan||FICO Score 8||Quarterly||No||TransUnion|
|Credit Journey from Chase||Personal bank account and credit card customers||VantageScore 3.0||Weekly||Yes||TransUnion|
|Barclays||Barclays card customers||FICO Score||Not available||Not available||TransUnion|
|US Bank||Members||Not available||Not available||Yes||TransUnion|
|Citibank||Select Citi Card customers||FICO Bankcard Score 8||Monthly||Not available||Equifax|
Paid credit score services
While there are many free services that provide you access to your credit score, the three credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, also offer paid services to supply your credit score. To learn more about each, here’s a quick breakdown for comparison:
|TransUnion||Credit score, credit monitoring with alerts and credit report||$24.95 per month|
|Equifax||Credit score and credit monitoring with alerts||$19.95 per month ($4.95 for 30-day trial to start)|
|Experian||Credit score, credit report and credit monitoring with alerts||$21.95 per month (after 7-day trial to start)|
It may seem silly to pay a fee to get your credit score and, for the most part, it is unnecessary because there are so many ways to obtain it for free these days. However, there may be some instances when it might be beneficial to use one of these services (for example, if you’ve been a victim of identity theft). These paid services can offer more substantial tools to monitor your credit than many of the free services can. Another big difference is that most free services usually only offer weekly or monthly credit score updates, while the paid services can provide daily updates.
Ways to check your credit score
Because credit scores change constantly, it’s always smart to keep an active eye on yours. It’s a good idea not only to ensure you know what your score is, but to also monitor any suspicious activity on your credit report, including any unknown addresses or accounts that may have been recently added.
FICO and VantageScore are the two main credit-scoring models used to build your credit score, both with a scoring system that ranges from 300 to 850. However, that doesn’t mean both competitors view your scores equally. Experian.com states that a credit score above 670 is considered “good” by FICO, while VantageScore says anything over 700 can be viewed as a “good” credit score. Something else to consider is that VantageScore and FICO both compile their results from reports of the three big credit reporting bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, but the calculations used by each may lead to slightly different scores for the same person.
There are also industry-specific scores geared toward a particular product (for example, auto loans), that can have their own scoring system, ranging anywhere from 250 to 900.
What credit scores are different types of lenders looking at?
Depending on what you’re applying for, such as a credit card or personal loan, the lender will look at specific credit scores to help determine whether you’re a good risk. Here are some of the most common types of lenders and the credit scores they look at when making a decision about potential borrowers.
|Product||Scores commonly looked at|
|Personal loans||FICO Score 8|
|Credit cards||FICO Bankcard Score 9 (latest version) or other versions, such as FICO Bankcard Score 8, FICO Score 8 or Experian’s FICO Score 3|
|Auto loans||FICO Auto Score 8, or older version|
|Mortgages||FICO Score 2 (Experian), FICO Score 5 (Equifax) and FICO Score 4 (TransUnion)|
|Student loans||FICO Score 8|
What is a good credit score?
Now that you know how to get your credit score, you may be curious where you fall in terms of credit score ranges. Usually anything around 680-750 is considered to be a good credit score. Those with a score that falls within this range can often get better interest rates than those with a lower score. But remember that both FICO and VantageScore have different scoring models, with various ratings and ranges to consider. The tables below will show you the different score ratings for both FICO and VantageScore to create a clearer picture of how each works, so you know where you fall.
FICO score ratings
|Credit rating||Credit score range|
|Excellent||800 and higher|
|Very Good||740 to 799|
|Good||670 to 739|
|Average/Fair||580 to 669|
|Poor||579 and lower|
|Credit rating||Credit score range|
|Superprime||781 and higher|
|Prime||661 to 780|
|Near prime||601 to 660|
|Subprime||300 to 600|
The bottom line
Knowing your credit score is essential to your financial health, and checking it on a regular basis will help you stay up-to-date. With easy-to-use, free online tools, you can have instant access to your score without negatively affecting it. You can monitor your report while checking on your progress as you continue to pay your bills on time and keep your credit card balances low, which will help to raise your score over time. Another thing to remember is your most recent activity plays a bigger role than past actions, which is why it’s so important to always remain diligent about checking your score. As time goes on, the negative marks on your report can eventually be removed, but it does take time. It’s best to stay alert about your current credit score to keep those negative marks at bay.