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Should We Get A Free Credit Score Each Year Too?

We can already get our "free" credit reports through annualcreditreport.com—one from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax each year. Now, a lot of people think consumers should be entitled to a free credit score too? Not a fake one that lenders wouldn't ever use to asses our risk, but a real credit score that matters. You know, one that lenders will actually consider when determining how much credit to offer, at what rate, and under what terms and conditions.

So which credit score should we get for free? We each have literally hundreds of scores floating around out there. FICO scores, Vantage Scores, and various other types of generic credit bureau scores are all peddled like they're of equal importance. The truth is they're not. FICO scores are really the only ones we should worry about when applying for new credit. But even then, there are different variations of FICO scores and lenders often use their own custom credit-scoring models as well. It seems as though there are just too many kinds of credit scores to simply say everyone should get a free one each year. So what can be done? We have three options. First, require the credit bureaus to provide free FICO scores along with our free credit reports. I doubt the credit bureaus would like this option. Experian won't even sell consumers their FICO scores anymore, let alone give them away for free. Or second, require lenders, insurance companies, employers or any other business that pulls your credit as part of an application process to disclose the credit score and its components along with their final decision. This way, there would never be any confusion regarding what credit score your lender used, and you could potentially receive a free credit score multiple times throughout the year. However, one major concern is consumers wouldn't have a way to pull a free credit score in advance while preparing to apply for a loan or credit card. Or third, a combination of option 1 and option 2 might be considered as well. While this would be a huge victory for consumers, I imagine it would put a huge dent in the market for credit scores purchased directly by consumers. In other words, it would likely be met with a lot of opposition and deep pockets from those that could lose significant profits. If you could get three free FICO scores each year plus a free one every time you applied for something, would you ever need to buy a credit score again? I doubt it. What do you think? Should consumers have a right to see their credit scores for free too? If so, how should it be handled?

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Joshua Heckathorn's picture

Joshua Heckathorn is a credit expert and has been featured on CNNMoney, FOX Business, Yahoo Finance, The Street, and many other national publications during the past twenty years.  He received a Bachelor of Science in Management (Finance) from Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Business and earned his MBA from Seattle University.

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Laura Morton's picture

You should definitely get your free credit reports each year. Make sure "free" is really 100% free. No strings attached. Sometime you are tricked into a credit monitoring service for a fee.
The idea behind taking a look at your credit report is to see if there are errors. The credit reporting agencies are not perfect. If you find mistakes, get them corrected immediately. It takes a bit of time but it will be fixed. Present your proof.
Don't wait until you're ready to apply for a mortgage or a loan to look at your credit.