If you spend any time online, you have surely seen the many ads offering free credit scores. I also get several pieces of junk mail in my mailbox and see a lot of commercials for these different services. It sounds like a good deal, except credit scores are never really “free”. You will pay one way or the other for these advertised businesses.
To get your credit rating from one of these companies, you will have to sign up for one of their services, usually a credit monitoring service. It is not necessarily a bad idea to have one of these services running in the background. It can help protect you from identity theft, and alert you anytime your credit is checked by businesses that want to offer you a pre-approved credit card or loan.
If you do not want to join those credit monitoring programs, you can pay a one-time fee to see your credit score on the official FICO website.
There are two ways to receive your credit report for free:
1. Lender denies you credit. A new law that went into effect in 2011 makes your report available anytime you are denied credit. You will probably have to submit something in writing to receive your report but by law they are required to supply it to you. This is a good thing for consumers put in that unfortunate position, as it will eliminate any mystery surrounding a consumer’s credit rating. You will not see your score but you will be able to verify the validity of the information on your report.
2. AnnualCreditReport.com. This free service from the Federal Trade Commission offers a once-per-year service to help consumers stay abreast of their credit report. This is a great opportunity to verify any new marks and ensure there are no mistakes you need to dispute. Your credit score will not be included in the free report but you will have the opportunity to purchase the score or view your free report.
The very best thing you can do is maintain the finest credit history you can. The higher the credit score, the lower the interest rate in many cases, especially when it comes to credit cards and auto loans.
If you must know your actual credit score, go ahead and pay to get it.
Here are the websites for the Big 3 credit companies: