Question of the Day: Do I Have To Pay To See My Credit Score?

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Jan 28, 2015
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Credit Scores, Question of the Day, Identity Theft, Current Events, Credit Reports

Answer:  It depends.

Most readers are aware that one can view their credit reports from the three credit bureaus 1X per year for free at annualcreditreports.com (and even that is changing, as Credit Karma recently announced that they would provide this information from two of the three bureaus updated weekly for FREE).  However, when making yes/no credit decisions, lenders usually turn to your credit score (which is based on your credit report) in making their determination.  Until recently, it cost money to get “your number,” (Note that if you are turned down for credit, the lender is required to provide the reason why along with your credit score)

Credit scores are just another example of how fast-moving the world of personal finance has become.  Until recently, they came at a cost.  Then a trickle of credit card providers started to provide cardholders with their score for free and now big banks are getting into the action (from USA Today):

President Obama put weight behind free credit scores when he announced earlier this month that Bank of America, Ally Financial and JPMorgan Chase would all begin to give customers their FICO score in some capacity in 2015.

Why is this increased transparency good for consumers?

  • Identity theft:  “Seeing your credit score with regularity gives people the opportunity to catch certain trends,” like identity theft, says Bruce McClary, spokesperson for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
  • Creates a tighter feedback loop where consumers will start to see how their financial actions impact their scores:  “Customers who are actively looking at their credit score tend to be less likely to get delinquent and in trouble with their accounts.”

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Check out the NGPF’s lesson on Improving Your Credit Score!

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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