Up until this point in your career, the most important numbers in your life may have gone by the abbreviations "MCAT" or "USMLE". But it may be time to start thinking about another 4 letter score - FICO. Your credit score will undoubtedly prove more influential in your financial lives, so it's good to have an idea of where you stand among the borrowing public. Below you will find out why you should care about your credit score and where you can go to get it for FREE.
What is it good for?
Your credit score is like your MCAT score, only for a different purpose: rather than getting into the medical school of your choice, the goal is to obtain a loan (e.g. credit card, mortgage, auto loan etc). While it is always preferable to pay cash for what you want, few of us can afford to pay cash for a house. The higher your credit score, the more likely lenders will loan you money. For what makes up this all important score, check out this previous post Your Credit Score - Demystified.
How to get it for free
For decades, the Fair Isaac Corporation made their FICO score the standard of credit scores, and charged for access to that score. Luckily for us, the credit score market has become more competitive - now there are multiple sources to get your credit score for free. Keep in mind that depending on which credit bureau the score is pulled from (Experian, Transunion or Equifax), the reported number may differ.
- FICO Score - an estimated 100 million Americans have access to their FICO score through a credit card or their bank.
- Credit Card Companies - the following credit card issuers include the FICO score as a benefit in selected credit cards. If your card offers free FICO scores, you can see it on your statement or by logging into your account online:
- Banks & Credit Unions - many banks and credit unions offer free FICO score to their customers. Check with your bank to see if you have this benefit. Here is a short list:
- Ally Bank - Auto loan customers only.
- American Heritage Federal Credit Union (AmHFCU)
- Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU)
- Hyundai Capital America - Hyundai finance and Kia finance.
- North Carolina State Employees' Credit Union (NCSECU)
- Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union (PSECU)
- Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed)
- Sallie Mae Student Loans.
- Non-FICO Score - Developed jointly by the 3 major credit bureaus as an attempt to control their own destiny, the VantageScore is meant to compete directly with the FICO score. It has seen increased utilization among lenders in recent years. There are some differences in how the VantageScore is calculated compared to the FICO score, but In most cases, your VantageScore is going to be close to your FICO score. You can get your VantageScore for free with the following providers:
I hope this was helpful. Comment below if I left any free credit score providers off the list.