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These days, it’s easier than ever to get and track your credit score–for free. An increasing number of credit card providers are reporting scores to customers, and you can also see your score online without the gimmicks that eventually end up costing you money.
For more than a decade, federal law has made it so you can view your credit reports — a log of your history of accounts and payments — for free once a year. You can get the reports from each of the big three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) at AnnualCreditReport.com.
But your credit score — the number derived from your credit history and used by lenders when you apply for a credit card or mortgage — was harder to come by. You might have had to fork over $20 to Fair Isaac Co. which produces the widely-used FICO credit score, to catch a glimpse of your three-digit number, for instance.
No more. “The credit score went from being a mysterious tool no one other than lenders knew about to being given away almost ad naseum,” says John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education at
CreditSesame.com, who says “no way” should you ever pay for your score nowadays.
So how do you pull your score for free and how can you make the most of it?
First, check with your credit card provider
More than 50 million people are now finding FICO scores on their monthly credit card statements, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Federal officials have prodded the card issuers to offer this and there’s a new program that makes it free for them to do so.
Discover and Barclays were among the first to start giving free scores to cardholders last year. More and more providers are entering the fray, now, too. For instance, this year Citi started giving out free scores and Chase recently made them available to 10 million holders of its Slate card. Bank of America plans to make scores available to cardholders sometime this year. Ally is rolling them out to all its car loan customers this summer.
Other banks are running limited-time promotions; Wells Fargo Wells Fargo. for example, has given customers a chance to request their score once per year during a given period.
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