How to Check Your Credit Score for Free (2023)

Here is how to check your credit score for free and get the most accurate picture of your credit.

By Allan Halcrow | American ExpressCredit IntelFreelance Contributor

7 Min Read | December 22, 2022 inCredit Score

How to Check Your Credit Score for Free (2)

At-A-Glance

Check Your Credit Score for Free with Your Bank or Credit Card Provider

Other Resources to Check Your Credit Score for Free

How to Check Your Credit Score for Free at Credit Karma

How to Check Your Credit Score for Free at American Express

Check Multiple Sources—Frequently

The Takeaway

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You can check your credit score for free from many sources.

You’ll likely find differences in your credit score depending on which source you use, due to the different ways credit scores are calculated.

To get the most accurate picture, check multiple sources often because credit scores change continuously.

When it comes to consumer goods like furniture or jewelry, you often only “get what you pay for.” But when it comes to getting your credit score, you’ll be happy to know that valuable item can be yours free. In fact, you can nowcheck your credit score for free from many sources.

Knowing your credit score can help you anticipate which loans or credit cards may be available to you (and for what terms) and even whether you may have trouble renting an apartment or getting a job.

But before exploring the ways you can check your credit score for free, it’s important to know that you do not have just one credit score! I was surprised to learn that fact while researching this article. Your credit scores will be different depending on the scoring model, the credit report used, and the exact time you request the score (because the information in your credit reports is continuously updated as your creditors regularly update it). In a 12-hour period, my own free credit score checks came up with three different scores.

Check Your Credit Score for Free with Your Bank or Credit Card Provider

The easiest place to check your credit score may be your bank, credit union, or credit card provider. Many of these institutions provide free credit scores as a customer service perk, though they may have some limitations. For example, I can check my score – but only once each month – just by looking at one of my credit card statements or using my credit union’s app.

However, your experience may differ. Some banks offer credit scores only to customers who have credit card accounts with the bank. Others may not provide credit scores at all, or may have specific requirements such as signing up for online banking. Still others may let you check your credit score for free, but only when you specifically request it.

Other Resources to Check Your Credit Score for Free

You can also check your credit score for free using various websites and apps, including some that provide credit-related services or personal finance services to consumers. Other companies provide your credit score only if you pay for a subscription to their services, which may include credit monitoring, fraud protection, credit matching, or forecasting tools.

Creating a profile or account will require you to share some personal information, including at least the last four digits of your Social Security number. That said, if you choose to use a third-party credit service, be sure it’s a reputable resource that maintains high data protection and other cyber security protection standards.

To help explain the process to you, I decided to get free credit scores at two online sites: Credit Karma, which made its reputation based on offering free credit scores, and American Express, because I’m a card member.

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How to Check Your Credit Score for Free at Credit Karma

To obtain my free credit score at Credit Karma, I first had to create an account. This led me to the form that established my identity so Credit Karma could grab my report and calculate my score. It asked for full name, address, date of birth, and other important personal information. Along the way were explanations as to why the company requires such information, as well as how it keeps personal info secure.

My credit is frozen, so I had to unfreeze my credit before Credit Karma could access my file.

Once all was in order, I was brought to a page that revealed two scores – one based on TransUnion’s credit report and the other based on Equifax’s. It also provided information from my credit report. Both free credit scores were calculated using the VantageScore 3.0 scoring model, an industry alternative to the more commonly used FICO Score models. My two scores differed by five points, and both were labeled “Excellent.

The entire process took about 30 minutes, including the time it took to unfreeze my credit.

How to Check Your Credit Score for Free at American Express

American Express offers two ways to check your credit scores for free:

  • American Express®MyCredit Guide, which lets you check your VantageScore credit score – and TransUnion® credit report – for free. Once you’ve enrolled, Card Members can access MyCredit Guide by logging into their online account. MyCredit Guide also provides a Credit Score Simulator and Score Goals to help you build positive credit habits that support a healthy credit score.
  • Card members can get a credit score for free in their online accounts. This score uses Experian data and the FICO Score 8 model.

For MyCredit Guide, the process was very similar to what I stepped through at Credit Karma. Once the account was created and MyCredit Guide took me to the page with my credit score information, I wasn’t surprised: My free credit score, being requested only a few hours apart and based on the same TransUnion report and VantageScore model, was identical to the TransUnion-based score Credit Karma showed me.

The credit report information at MyCredit Guide was presented in a simple, high-level way, and clicking on one of these high-level summaries took you to a detail page with comprehensive information. But the thing I found really cool was at the bottom of the page: a credit score simulator. You fill in a form supposing different possibilities – both positive and negative – such as opening a new credit card account, paying off balances, or falling behind on payments. Then press the “simulate” button to reveal your “simulated score” should those events actually happen. I played with that for a while!

Then I logged into my American Express customer account where, under “Account Services,” I chose “View FICO Score.” Again, my scores differed by a few points. For more on why your scores can vary, read “Why Do I Have Different Credit Scores?"

Both American Express and Credit Karma offered information about disputing errors on your credit reports, with links to facilitate that purpose.

Check Multiple Sources— Frequently

Because of all the variables – multiple scoring models, multiple bureaus, and constantly changing data – it’s often recommended that if you want a more accurate sense of your credit profile you’ll want to check your free credit score from multiple sources, often. Some free credit score providers will limit that frequency, most usually to monthly but sometimes weekly.

Carefully monitoring your credit score will also make it easier to spot sudden changes and anomalies. Scores are only as good as the data that feeds them, so if your score doesn’t seem right it may be because of reporting errors or fraudulent activity. To investigate what’s happening, you can seek out your credit report for free. If it contains information that seems inaccurate, you can dispute it with the credit bureau and/or the creditor.

Did you know? As an added security measure to help protect against fraud, American Express reports a reference number to credit bureaus – instead of your actual account number.

The Takeaway

It’s easy to check your credit score for free. However, you may find that different sources provide different credit scores, depending on the scoring model and the credit bureau that provided the information. To get the most accurate picture, you may want to check multiple sources and frequently monitor your credit score.

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How to Check Your Credit Score for Free (4)

Allan Halcrow is a freelance writer concentrating in business, human resources, and diversity and inclusion. He is also the author of four books on management.

All Credit Intelcontent is written by freelance authors and commissioned and paid for by American Express.

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The material made available for you on this website, Credit Intel, is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax or financial advice. If you have questions, please consult your own professional legal, tax and financial advisors.

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