As a consumer, you have the right to see your credit report without having to pay for it. But, while it’s not hard to find a website promising a free credit score, it can be a challenge to find a website that gives you a truly free credit score without asking for your credit card number. If you want to see your credit report before you actually have a credit card, this can be a catch-22.
You shouldn’t have to give up your credit card number for something that’s supposed to be free—and, the good news is, you don't have to. There are a few ways you can get a free credit score without entering your credit card number.
Credit Scores With a Catch
Many sites advertising free credit scores have a gimmick where they lure you in with promises of a free score. But, to get that score, they require you to sign up for a trial subscription to a credit monitoring service. The catch is that you’re charged for the subscription if you don’t cancel within a certain amount of time, usually seven days.
If you want regular access to your score, many sites require that you pay a monthly service fee after a free trial period.
Sites With Free Credit Scores
In reality, there are quite a few sites that offer free credit scores with no credit card or paid subscription. Here are just a few:
- CreditWise from Capital One is available to all consumers. You can signup even if you don't have a Capital One credit card. You'll receive monthly updates of your VantageScore 3.0 based on your TransUnion credit report.
- Credit Karma provides your free credit score based on your Equifax and TransUnion credit reports. They also add your VantageScore 3.0 for no extra cost. While you may be asked for your Social Security number and other identifying information, you’re never asked to give your credit card number. Best of all, you can check your credit score every day if you want.
- Credit Sesame's goal is to connect you with deals to lower your debt payments through refinance and low-interest-rate credit card options. A personal credit management tool, your free credit score is part of the deal, and you don’t have to provide your credit card information to get it.
- Discover provides a free credit scorecard that includes your FICO score based on your Experian credit report information. The scorecard updates every month and you don't have to be a Discover customer to enroll.
- Lending Tree provides you with a free copy of your VantageScore 3.0 and updates your score monthly. You'll also be able to see the factors that affect your credit score.
Required Credit Score Disclosure
This law, unfortunately, doesn’t give consumers access to their credit scores, which aren't actually included on credit reports. However, banks, lenders, and credit card companies are required to provide you with a free credit score any time they deny your application, provide you with less than favorable terms, or raise your rates because of your credit.
Mortgage lenders also must disclose your credit score when they check your credit for a loan application.
Unfortunately, there are times when you won’t get this free credit score, even if you’re denied. For example, banks don’t have to send the credit score disclosure when they use an in-house credit score, and insurance companies aren’t required to disclose the credit-based score used to assign your insurance premium. If you're denied credit or insurance, though, it doesn't hurt to ask for your score.
Not a FICO Score
With the exception of the Discover Credit Scorecard, the drawback to free credit scores is that the scores likely won’t be a FICO score, the score that’s most often used by lenders. Credit Karma, Credit Wise, and Credit Sesame all give you a credit bureau’s version of your credit score, i.e a FAKO score. These scores may vary from one another and typically differ from your FICO score.
You may get a free FICO score with a credit score disclosure, but that’s only if the bank used a FICO score in making its decision. Otherwise, you’ll get another score, but it will be the actual score the bank used, rather than an educational score.