Your credit score is a three-digit number that's used by banks to approve your application. Banks aren't the only businesses that use your credit score though. You'll find that employers, utility companies, landlords, cell phone providers, and even some hospitals all check your credit score.
Why Should You Check Your Credit Score
You should check your credit score from time to time to see how you stand, but checking it before you make a major credit or loan application is a good idea too. That will give you an idea on whether you'll get approved or not and if you'll get a high interest rate. People with credit scores lower than 620 find it harder to get applications approved and are left with higher interest rates.
The Different Kinds of Scores
Credit score is a general term given to the numerical value of your credit report. There are specific "brands" of credit scores that are used. The FICO score, named by its developers Fair Isaac Corporation, is most well-known brand of credit score. There are other credit scores offered by the three credit bureaus - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. FICO Score vs. FAKO Scores tells you all about the different kinds of scores.
Four Places to Get Your Credit Score
There are a few different places that you can buy your credit score, but here are some of the most reputable ones.
- MyFico.com. This is the only place where you can purchase your FICO score. You can order your FICO score based on your credit report at Equifax or TransUnion. Note: As of February 14, 2009, you can no longer purchase your FICO score based on your Experian credit report data.
You can purchase your individual and 3-in-1 credit scores from each of the credit bureaus. Keep in mind that each credit bureau has its own credit scoring model, so your credit scores could differ from each other and might even be different from your FICO score. (See Why Your Credit Scores Are Different.)
Free Credit Scores?
You've likely heard that you can get free credit reports each year from annualcreditreport.com. However, the site doesn't offer a free credit score.
Most websites that claim to offer free credit scores, only give you the score for free when you sign up for a free trial of a subcription service, like credit monitoring. You have to enter your credit card information, so if you forget to cancel the free service, your credit card will get charged.
There are a few sites that offer a free credit score without asking for a credit card number: CreditKarma.com, CreditSesame.com, and Quizzle.com.
MyFICO.com offers a free credit score estimator that estimates your credit score based on information you enter about your credit history.