If you spend any time on the Internet at all, you have surely seen the many ads (and often times, junk email) offering free credit scores. It sounds like a good deal, except credit scores are never really free. You will pay one way or the other. To get your rating from one of these companies, you will have to sign up for one of their services, usually a credit monitoring service. That is not necessarily a bad idea. It can help protect you from identity theft, and alert you to credit checks by businesses that want to offer you a pre-approved credit card or loan. But, it’s never really free.
If you do not want to join those programs, you can pay for your score on the FICO website. The only time you can get free credit scores, and the reason why you do not want them, is when a lender denies you credit. A new law that went into effect in 2011 requires lenders to send the applicant their credit score when they deny their credit due to a low rating. This is a good thing for consumers put in that unfortunate position, as it will eliminate all of the mystery surrounding a consumer’s credit rating.
Don’t confuse free credit scores with free credit reports. You can get a free report once per year from all three reporting agencies. You can also get a free credit report anytime someone denies you credit. Just contact the reporting agency, and they will mail you one. The report doesn’t show you your credit score, but it does give you a lot of good information about your credit history.
Your best bet is to maintain the finest credit history you can. If you have a great rating, you will be approved for most loans. If that happens, you won’t get free credit scores. That is a good thing. If you must know your rating, you can go ahead and pay to get it.