6 Awesome Tips About Free Credit From Unlikely Sources

To join an online service that gives you access to your results and reports, you will need to enter some personal information, including the last four digits of your Social Security number, and answer questions to verify your identity. Since you are submitting personal information, please limit yourself to well-known and reputable sites (we trust the sites listed below). Be sure to enter the exact URL, to avoid ending up on a “fake” website that entices you to pay for these products. An indication you are on the wrong website: Dial a credit card number to see basic credit information. The site is likely trying to sell information that you can find for free elsewhere.

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In exchange for these gifts, some services will occasionally send you emails promoting credit, insurance, and mortgage offers tailored to your profile. If you order a product, the site will take a commission from the lender. But you can choose not to receive marketing emails and enjoy free credit services.

Here are our picks for the best places to access your credit score and credit reports for free.

Free credit scores
Many banks and credit unions, including Bank of America, Citi, and Pentagon Federal, allow some or all cardholders to see free FICO results. Or, you can sign up for Discover Credit Scorecard to have a look, even if you don’t have a Discover card. The site uses information collected from Experian. Most other services show you your VantageScore, based on the information on your TransUnion report, although Credit Karma shows scores from Equifax and TransUnion.

Many of these services plot your score, rank you on the elements that make up your score, and provide personalized suggestions on how to improve your balance. Moreover, CreditWise’s Capital One, Chase’s Credit Journey, and NerdWallet offer “simulators” that calculate how your score could change if you pay off debt, increase your credit limit, open a new card, allow the account to default and more. NerdWallet contains the most powerful list of positions in the simulator. WalletHub shows how your score compares to government and national averages, and the Discover credit score card shows where it ranks compared to different age groups.

Most online services offer a VantageScore or FICO score. FICO continues to dominate among lenders, but your VantageScore may be just as valuable to you. (VantageScore and your FICO score may vary depending on the registration form and which office report the data came from.) They both take into account payment history, usage, and length of credit history, among other things. “Both Pepsi and Coca-Cola are soft drinks,” says credit expert John Olzheimer, who finds that different credit scores tend to vary by a maximum of 20 points. “Still, filing for bankruptcy is still really bad for all grades,” he says.

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