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Should I Pay To Check My Credit Score?

Author: Michael Smith

Should you pay for your credit score? Ideally, no, but the Fair Credit Reporting Act does allow companies to charge you to see your score so in some cases, you might not have a choice.

Credit Score Vs. Credit Report

Don't confuse the two. Once per year, you can request a copy of each of your credit reports from the major reporting agencies. Simply go to annualcreditreport.com and follow the simple instructions. It's free and easy. Your credit score is a numerical representation of your credit report. The higher your credit score, the better your credit report.

One Score Matters

Other companies market their own version of a credit score, but only one score matters: your FICO score. According to FICO, 90% of all lending decisions factor a FICO score into the mix. If you're going to pay for your score, don't pay one of the other providers: Pay FICO. But there are some ways to get your score for free.

Credit Cards

A growing list of card companies provide your FICO score free of charge. Some of those include Barclaycard US, Discover, First National and, starting in 2015, Citi, Chase (if you have a Slate card) and Bank of America.

But keep in mind that FICO scores are based on a single credit report – not each of the major three combined. Discover provides the TransUnion score while First National uses the Experian score, for example. The difference between the two scores should be small.

Home or Auto Loan

If you have applied for a major purchase, the lender that pulled your report will probably give you a copy of your score if you ask. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, you may also receive your score if your application is turned down or you receive less than favorable terms as a result of your score.

You Don't REALLY Have To Know It

Your FICO score is a great way to quickly gauge the health of your credit, but it's nothing more than a reflection of your credit reports – which you get for free. If you pull all three of your reports, examine them carefully, clean up any misinformation and monitor them annually, your credit score isn't going to tell you anything you don't already know.

There are some exceptions: If you have damaged credit, your score is an easy way to measure your progress as you work to repair your credit. It's also a good idea to look at your score six or more months before a major purchase to make sure you're set up to get the best possible rates on a car loan or mortgage.

The Bottom Line

If you do have to pay for it, a one-time score will cost you about $20. You can also pay monthly for continuous monitoring, but in most cases, monitoring your credit report will be enough unless you have damaged credit or plan to make a major purchase in the near future. For more information, see Top Places To Get A Free Credit Score Or Report and FICO or FAKO? The Limitations Of Free Credit Scores

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