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

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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 AnnualCreditReport.com (see link below) until April 2022. Check out our Student Loan Hero Coronavirus Information Center for additional news and details.

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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 AnnualCreditReport.com. 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 programsCredit score modelBased on your credit report fromScores updated
CreditJourney from ChaseVantageScore 3.0TransUnionWeekly
Digital Federal Credit UnionFICO Score (unclear which version)EquifaxMonthly
Sallie MaeFICO Score 8TransUnionQuarterly
U.S. BankVantageScore 3.0TransUnionMonthly
Wells FargoFICO Score (unclear which version)ExperianMonthly

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 programsCredit score modelBased on your credit report fromScores updated
American ExpressVantageScore 3.0TransUnionWeekly
Bank of AmericaFICO Score 8TransUnionMonthly
BarclaysFICO Score (unclear which version)TransUnionMonthly
CitibankFICO Bankcard Score 8EquifaxMonthly
CreditJourney from ChaseVantageScore 3.0TransUnionWeekly
Credit Scorecard from Discover (for Discover customers)FICO Score 8TransUnionMonthly
Credit Scorecard from Discover (available without a Discover card)FICO Score 8ExperianMonthly
CreditWise from Capital OneVantageScore 3.0TransUnionWeekly
SunTrustFICO Bankcard Score 8EquifaxMonthly

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 companiesCredit score modelBased on your credit report fromScores updated
My LendingTreeVantageScore 3.0TransUnionMonthly
ExperianFICO Score 8ExperianMonthly
MintVantageScore 3.0TransUnionWhen 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 2021!
LenderAPR RangeLoan Amount 
5.99% – 18.85%1$5,000 - $100,000

Visit SoFi

7.86% – 35.99%$1,000 - $50,000

Visit Upstart

5.94% – 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 Payoff

7.99% – 29.99%4$7,500 - $40,000

Visit FreedomPlus

7.99% – 20.88%5$5,000 - $50,000

Visit Citizens

9.99% – 35.99%6$2,000 - $36,500

Visit LendingPoint

10.68% – 35.89%7$1,000 - $40,000

Visit LendingClub

9.95% – 35.99%8$2,000 - $35,000

Visit Avant

1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Fixed rates from 5.99% APR to 18.85% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of March 19, 2020 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. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your creditworthiness, years of professional experience, 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. To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull.
    See Consumer Licenses.
  3. Minimum Credit Score: Not all applicants who meet SoFi’s minimum credit score requirements are approved for a personal loan. In addition to meeting SoFi’s minimum eligibility criteria, applicants must also meet other credit and underwriting requirements to qualify.
  4. If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you may apply for Unemployment Protection. SoFi will suspend your monthly SoFi loan payments and provide job placement assistance during your forbearance period. Interest will continue to accrue and will be added to your principal balance at the end of each forbearance period, to the extent permitted by applicable law. Benefits are offered in three month increments, and capped at 12 months, in aggregate, over the life of the loan. To be eligible for this assistance you must provide proof that you have applied for and are eligible for unemployment compensation, and you must actively work with our Career Advisory Group to look for new employment. If the loan is co-signed the unemployment protection applies where both the borrower and cosigner lose their job and meet conditions.
  5. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

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 Payoff.

Payoff 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 FreedomPlus.

FreedomPlus Disclosures

  1. The loan terms presented are not guaranteed and APRs presented are estimates only. To obtain a loan you must submit additional information and documentation and all loans are subject to credit review and our approval process. The range of APRs is 7.99% to 29.99% and your actual APR will depend upon factors including your credit score, usage and history, the requested loan amount, the stated loan purpose, and the term of the requested loan. To qualify for a 7.99% APR loan, a borrower will need excellent credit on a loan for an amount less than $12,000.00, and with a term equal to 24 months. Adding a co-borrower with sufficient income; using at least eighty-five percent (85%) of the loan proceeds to directly pay off qualifying existing debt; or showing proof of sufficient retirement savings, could help you also qualify for the lowest rate available. All loans are made by Cross River Bank and MetaBank®, N.A., Members FDIC.

5 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.

6 Important Disclosures for LendingPoint.

LendingPoint Disclosures

  • 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 6% may apply depending upon your state of residence. Upon LendingPoint’s final underwriting approval to fund a loan, said funds are often sent via ACH the next non-holiday business day. LendingPoint makes loan offers from $2,000 to $36,500, at rates ranging from a low of 9.99% APR to a high of 35.99% APR, with terms from 24 to 48 months. The loan offer(s) shown reflect a 28 day payment cycle which is being offered as a courtesy as many of our customers are paid on a biweekly schedule and thus this may better align the loan payment dates with your actual income receipt schedule.

7 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 www.lendingclub.com website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months or longer.


8 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 APRs of 5.94%-35.97%. All personal loans have a 2.9% to 8% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 17.98% APR (which includes a 14.32% 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 $343.33. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,359.97. 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. Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank or designated account within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes the transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days. Funds sent directly to pay off your creditors may take up to 2 weeks to clear, depending on the creditor. Personal loans issued by Upgrade’s lending partners. Information on Upgrade’s lending partners can be found at https://www.upgrade.com/lending-partners/.