How to Check Your Credit Score for Free With These 5 Tips

 May 19, 2020
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how to check your credit score for free

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Note that the situation for student loans has changed due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Specifically, free credit reports will be available weekly — instead of annually — through (see link below) until further notice.

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There are many ways to check your credit scores and get access to your credit reports for free. These can be important when you’re trying to qualify for a new loan — like a new student loan to refinance your higher-rate student loans — or if you want to get a credit card or rent an apartment.

Having a high credit score can make it easier to qualify and get your best rates. Checking your credit can help you understand where you are and what steps you might need to take to improve your credit.

1. Start by checking your credit reports
2. Check in with your bank
3. Check in with your credit card company
4. Consider signing up with a free service for your score
5. Monitor and improve your score using your preferred method

1. Start by checking your credit reports

Your credit scores are based on your credit reports, but scores and reports aren’t the same thing. The big three consumer credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — collect information from creditors and public records to build databases of consumers’ activity.

When someone requests your credit report from a credit bureau, the bureau compiles a credit report with your accounts and information in its database. If a credit score is also requested, a credit scoring model will analyze the report to generate a score.

FICO and VantageScore both have popular credit scoring models, and many of their credit scores range from 300 to 850. A higher score is better, and you’ll generally need a score in the high 600s to have what’s considered a “good” credit score.

Because your credit scores are based on your credit reports, you may want to start by checking your credit reports to ensure there aren’t any errors. If you find an error, you can submit a dispute to the credit bureau.

You can request a free copy of your credit reports from each of the bureaus on Generally, you can only request one copy every 12 months (except in special circumstances), but due to COVID-19, you can request a free copy every week through April 2021.

Different free credit check services use various credit scoring models that analyze one of your three credit reports. It’s common for the information in your credit reports to vary from one bureau to the next, for your reports to change as new information is added and for the credit scoring models to use different criteria to determine your scores. As a result, you can expect your scores to be different, depending on how and when you check your credit score.

Keep all this in mind as you look for free ways to check your credit score.

2. Check with your bank or lender

One place to look for a free credit score is with the financial institution where you have a loan or checking or savings accounts. Many banks and credit unions offer their customers free access to a FICO® Score through the FICO Score Open Access program. However, it’s sometimes limited to customers who have credit cards, and some financial institutions alternatively offer a free VantageScore credit score to customers.

Banks and credit unions with credit score programs Credit score model Based on your credit report from Scores updated
CreditJourney from Chase VantageScore 3.0 TransUnion Weekly
Digital Federal Credit Union FICO Score (unclear which version) Equifax Monthly
Sallie Mae FICO Score 8 TransUnion Quarterly
U.S. Bank VantageScore 3.0 TransUnion Monthly
Wells Fargo FICO Score (unclear which version) Experian Monthly

3. Check with your credit card company

Credit card companies may also offer you free credit scores. Sometimes, you’ll need to be a customer to get access to your free credit scores, but others have programs you can sign up for even if you don’t have one of their credit cards.

Credit card issuers with credit scoring programs Credit score model Based on your credit report from Scores updated
American Express VantageScore 3.0 TransUnion Weekly
Bank of America FICO Score 8 TransUnion Monthly
Barclays FICO Score (unclear which version) TransUnion Monthly
Citibank FICO Bankcard Score 8 Equifax Monthly
CreditJourney from Chase VantageScore 3.0 TransUnion Weekly
Credit Scorecard from Discover (for Discover customers) FICO Score 8 TransUnion Monthly
Credit Scorecard from Discover (available without a Discover card) FICO Score 8 Experian Monthly
CreditWise from Capital One VantageScore 3.0 TransUnion Weekly
SunTrust FICO Bankcard Score 8 Equifax Monthly

4. Consider signing up for a free credit score service

You could also create an account with one of the many companies that will give you free access to your credit score. Some of these credit score websites and services offer additional levels of service, such as different credit scores or access to all three of your credit reports, if you have a paid subscription.

Free credit score service companies Credit score model Based on your credit report from Scores updated
My LendingTree VantageScore 3.0 TransUnion Monthly
Experian FICO Score 8 Experian Monthly
Mint VantageScore 3.0 TransUnion When you get an alert

In addition to tracking, a few services including My LendingTree, come with free credit monitoring. Credit monitoring can be helpful, as you’ll receive an alert if there’s a suspicious change in the credit report or score that’s monitored, which could be an indication of fraud. You can then quickly act to shut down the account or replace the hacked card.

5. Monitor and improve your score

No matter how or where you check your credit score, checking your own credit won’t impact your scores. However, the score you’ll see can depend on which service you use and how often it updates.

As the scores are based on your underlying credit report — and new information could be added to your credit report at any time — it’s also not uncommon for your scores to change from one day to the next. However, you won’t likely need to check your scores everyday.

Many credit scores use similar scoring criteria. As long as you’re trending in the right direction, a small change, even if it’s your score going down, isn’t necessarily a reason for concern. But you could check routinely, such as once a week or month, and try to implement practices that will help improve all your scores.

Two ways to help boost credit scores are paying at least your minimum payment by the due date and only using a small portion of your available credit on credit cards, then paying the bill in full to avoid interest charges.

Over time, taking action to improve your credit scores can help set you up for more opportunities. Whether you want to save money by refinancing your student loans or buy a home, a good score can help you get your best deal.

Carrie Smith contributed to this report.

Interested in a personal loan?

Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2022!
LenderAPR RangeLoan Amount 
7.99% – 23.43%1$5,000 - $100,000

Visit SoFi

4.37% – 35.99%$1,000 - $50,000

Visit Upstart

7.46% – 35.97%*$1,000 - $50,000

Visit Upgrade

99.00% – 199.00%2$500 - $4,000

Visit OppLoans

5.99% – 24.99%3$5,000 - $40,000

Visit Happy Money

7.99% – 20.88%4$5,000 - $50,000

Visit Citizens

7.99% – 35.99%5$2,000 - $36,500

Visit LendingPoint

10.68% – 35.89%6$1,000 - $40,000

Visit LendingClub

9.95% – 35.99%7$2,000 - $35,000

Visit Avant

1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

Fixed rates from 7.99% APR to 23.43% APR APR reflect the 0.25% autopay discount and a 0.25% direct deposit discount. SoFi rate ranges are current as of 8/22/22 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, income, and other factors. See APR examples and terms. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

2 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Opploans.

Opploans Disclosures

Direct Deposit required for payroll.

Opploans currently operates in these states: . *Approval may take longer if additional verification documents are requested. Not all loan requests are approved. Approval and loan terms vary based on credit determination and state law. Applications processed and approved before 7:30 p.m. ET Monday-Friday are typically funded the next business day.

  1. To qualify, a borrower must (i) be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident; (ii) reside in a state where OppLoans operates; (iii) have direct deposit; (iv) meet income requirements; (v) be 18 years of age (19 in Alabama); and, (vi) meet verification standards.
  2. NV Residents: The use of high-interest loans services should be used for short-term financial needs only and not as a long-term financial solution. Customers with credit difficulties should seek credit counseling before entering into any loan transaction.

  3. OppLoans performs no credit checks through the three major credit bureaus Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. Applicants’ credit scores are provided by Clarity Services, Inc., a credit reporting agency.

  4. Based on customer service ratings on Google and Facebook. Testimonials reflect the individual’s opinion and may not be illustrative of all individual experiences with OppLoans. Check loan reviews.

  5. Rates and terms vary by state.

3 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Happy Money.

Happy Money Disclosures

  1. All loans are subject to credit review and approval. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, credit usage and history. Currently loans are not offered in: MA, MS, NE, NV, OH, and WV.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Rates and offer subject to change. All accounts, loans and services subject to individual approval.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.

5 Important Disclosures for LendingPoint.

LendingPoint Disclosures

Applications submitted on this website may be funded by one of several lenders, including: FinWise Bank, a Utah-chartered bank, Member FDIC; Coastal Community Bank, Member FDIC; Midland States Bank, Member FDIC; and LendingPoint, a licensed lender in certain states. Loan approval is not guaranteed. Actual loan offers and loan amounts, terms and annual percentage rates (“APR”) may vary based upon LendingPoint’s proprietary scoring and underwriting system’s review of your credit, financial condition, other factors, and supporting documents or information you provide. Origination or other fees from 0% to 7% may apply depending upon your state of residence. Upon final underwriting approval to fund a loan, said funds are often sent via ACH the next non-holiday business day. Loans are offered from $2,000 to $36,500, at rates ranging from 7.99% to 35.99% APR, with terms from 24 to 72 months. Minimum loan amounts apply in Georgia, $3,500; Colorado, $3,001; and Hawaii, $1,500. For a well-qualified customer, a $10,000 loan for a period of 48 months with an APR of 24.34% and origination fee of 7% will have a payment of $327.89 per month. (Actual terms and rate depend on credit history, income, and other factors.) The $15,575.04 total amount due under the loan terms provided as an example in this disclaimer includes the origination fee financed in addition to the loan amount. Customers may have the option to deduct the origination fee from the disbursed loan amount if desired. If the origination fee is added to the financed amount, interest is charged on the full principal amount. The total amount due is the total amount of the loan you will have paid after you have made all payments as scheduled.

6 Important Disclosures for LendingClub.

LendingClub Disclosures

All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage and history. The APR ranges from 10.68% to 35.89%. For example, you could receive a loan of $6,000 with an interest rate of 9.56% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 13.11%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $192.37. The total amount repayable will be $6,925.32. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at time of application. The origination fee ranges from 2% to 6% (average is 4.86% as of 7/1/2019 – 9/30/2019). In Georgia, the minimum loan amount is $3,025. In Massachusetts, the minimum loan amount is $6,001 if your APR is greater than 12%. There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months or longer.

7 Important Disclosures for Avant.

Avant Disclosures

*If approved, the actual loan terms that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination, state law, and other factors. Minimum loan amounts vary by state.

**Example: A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33.

Based on the responses from 7,302 customers in a survey of 140,258 newly funded customers, conducted from August 1, 2018 – August 1, 2019, 95.11% of customers stated that they were either extremely satisfied or satisfied with Avant. 4/5 Customers would recommend us. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.

* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.

Upgrade Bank Disclosures

Personal loans made through Upgrade feature Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) of 7.46%-35.97%. All personal loans have a 1.85% to 8% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. Loans feature repayment terms of 24 to 84 months. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 17.59% APR (which includes a 13.94% yearly interest rate and a 5% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,500 in your account and would have a required monthly payment of $341.48. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,293.46. The APR on your loan may be higher or lower and your loan offers may not have multiple term lengths available. Actual rate depends on credit score, credit usage history, loan term, and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early. Personal loans issued by Upgrade’s bank partners. Information on Upgrade’s bank partners can be found at .