Under the law, you can get your credit report for free but you have to pay for your credit score. It's an irritation, but until the FTC decides (if it ever will) to give out free FICO scores, you'll have to find other means to get your credit report score.
You can sign up for a credit monitoring program. For many people, subscribing to a credit monitoring program helps if they want to closely monitor their credit report and score. This is especially useful for those who are planning to apply for a loan in the future, and victims of identity theft. If you aren't any of these but would like to make sure your credit report and score are in tiptop shape, then a credit monitoring program is for you.
When you sign up for a credit monitoring service, you get your FICO score for free. There is a trial period (most of the programs have 30 days trial), and you can access your FICO score anytime during this period. After the trial period ends, the service will automatically start charging your credit card unless you cancel the service.
Credit monitoring programs, depending on the package you sign up for, allow you to pull your credit report / s and get your free FICO score, be informed immediately if there are any changes and / or suspicious activity on your report, and gain access to online tools that are available only to credit monitoring clients. For instance, some packages allow you to simulate how your credit rating score would be affected if you were to take a particular action. Another package sends you an email to remind you when a bill is due for payment.
When you apply for a mortgage or home equity loan, lenders will get a copy of your credit report and credit score to review your application. This is a good time get your free score; you can ask the lender what your score is. Remember, though, that lenders are not mandated to reveal your score and have the right to deny your request.
Another way to get your credit score for free is when your credit card or loan application has been denied. Under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), if your credit score was a main consideration in the lender's denying your credit application, they have to tell you why they denied it and what your score is. You have 30 days – from the date your application was denied – to ask the lender for an explanation and find out your free credit score.
Washington Mutual was a popular choice for consumers because they offered a free credit score if your credit card application was approved. This service has been discontinued effective March 2009, after JP Morgan Chase took over Washington Mutual.
The only way to keep on top of what's happening to your FICO credit score is to get it with your credit report on a regular basis. It also helps to know what kinds of actions raise and pull down your free FICO score. You can find out about this, as well as what information goes into your score by visiting our website, which will help you fast track your way towards a high credit score.