Savvy consumers know they can get a free copy of their credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com. But can you get a credit score for free?
No, you generally can't get your FICO credit score free. FICO is the brand name of the three-digit rating between 350 and 850 that most resembles what lenders will use to grant you loans.
But you can get a free "FAKO" score. These fake FICO scores come from credit-score simulators or off-brand scoring models, and they are useful for people who want to keep tabs on their creditworthiness without paying a fee.
--AnnualCreditReport.com: Starting Thursday, companies that try to trick you into paying for a service to see your free report must more clearly direct you to this official site from theirs. The federally mandated disclosure becomes required for all marketing, including TV and radio advertising, in September. Credit scores are based on data in your credit reports, which come from three companies: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. You can get one free credit report per year from each of them by going to AnnualCreditReport.com.
--CreditKarma.com: You can pull a score daily. It is the TransRisk credit score based on your TransUnion report. The site sells no products but makes money from advertising and recommending products, such as credit cards and mortgages, based on information in your credit report. But it doesn't store or reveal to vendors your personal information, said CEO Ken Lin. Lin said your CreditKarma score should be highly correlated with your FICO score.
"There are literally hundreds of credit scores, and you're not going to be able to monitor all of them. So pick a scale, track it over time and that will give you a very good idea of what's going on in your credit report and your general creditworthiness," he said. CreditKarma.com also offers a score simulator, so you can assess how actions, such as opening a credit card, will affect your credit.
--Quizzle.com: You can access your score once every six months. Based on your Experian report, it provides a score by CE Analytics. Quizzle discarded two previous types of scores in favor of a CE score, which is closer to a FICO score, said Quizzle CEO Todd Albery. You also get your Experian credit report.
Quizzle sells credit-improvement tools, which cost $25 or $75 depending on the product. However, improving your credit mostly involves paying your bills on time, paying off debt and using little of your available credit.
--Credit.com: You can access its Credit Report Card once a month. Based on your TransUnion report, it gives a letter grade like a school report card, and then gives number ranges for how that would rate with five credit-score models, including FICO. The site links to various paid credit products, including credit-monitoring services that might be of questionable value for most people. It also links to credit card and loan offers.
--MyFICO.com: If you're in the market for a loan or will be soon, you should probably pay $15.95 each for one or both of your scores from MyFico.com. You can get the Equifax and TransUnion FICO scores but not the score from Experian, which no longer sells it to the public. Your FICO score is probably the closest to what lenders will see, said spokesman Barry Paperno.