You can check your credit score from the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — by requesting a free weekly credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com.
You also have other options, but many other places that offer a free credit score provide you with an educational score, which is different from your official credit score.
4 places to check your credit score
Besides your free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com, you can access your credit score using the following services:
- Free credit score apps. Apps like Credit Karma offer free credit reports from bureaus like Experian and TransUnion. However, these reports are educational and not official credit scores. Credit Sesame and CreditWise are two other apps that offer similar services.
- Credit and loan issuers. Both credit card companies and personal loan lenders can help you retrieve your free credit score. These credit scores are also educational.
- Non-profit credit counselors. Counselors at such organizations are certified and trained in consumer credit, debt management and budgeting. They can help you find a free credit report. If you use this type of service, ask the counselor whether they’re providing you with an educational credit score or an official one.
- Consumer credit bureaus. Reach out to Equifax, TransUnion or Experian directly for your official credit score. These organizations require you to sign up and might charge a fee for their service.
What’s an educational score?
Most free credit score apps or services provide educational credit scores, which might be different from an official credit score.
Educational scores are a good way to help you get an idea of your credit score so you can work to build and improve it. It can also help you detect possible fraudulent activities on one of your credit accounts.
Your official credit score comes from one of the three major credit bureaus. A lender will look at a score from one of these three bureaus to determine your creditworthiness.
How often can you check your credit score?
You can check your credit score as often as you like. Doing so will not have an adverse effect on your credit score, since it’s considered a soft inquiry. Also, your requests for educational credit scores will not be visible to lenders, and it won’t affect your credit score.
Why should I check my credit score?
There are a handful of reasons you’ll want to check your credit score regularly:
- A missed payment. We’re all busy, and sometimes we miss an important loan or credit card payment. If this happens, your credit score may drop.
- Identity theft. If someone has stolen your identity, they may be using your financial information to make purchases. If this happens, contact your credit card company or bank to put a hold on your credit and debit cards immediately. You’ll also want to file a report with the local authorities and dispute with the credit bureaus to let them know what happened.
- Inaccuracies in reports. It’s possible that your credit report might have been wrongfully penalized for something. In this case, you want to dispute inaccuracies with each of the three credit bureaus that have issued a report with the mistake.
- Remove wrongful penalties related to collections. If you have some debts that have gone into collections, they’ll likely show up on your credit report. However, effective July 1, 2022, paid medical debt is no longer included on credit reports. Contact the credit bureau if your paid medical debt is still on your report and hurting your credit score.
How to understand your credit score
The main credit scoring models are FICO and VantageScore.
While FICO and VantageScore group their credit scores differently, they both use a credit score range from 300 to 850. A good credit score is closer to 850, while a bad score is closer to 300. Here’s how FICO groups credit scores:
Which credit score do lenders check?
Although both FICO and VantageScore are used, FICO is the most popular credit score that lenders use to determine your creditworthiness.
Even if you make your credit card and loan payments each month, you should check your credit score regularly. Checking your score and learning how to read credit reports can help to keep you creditworthy in the eyes of lenders and help you spot potential inaccuracies.