TV and the web are filled with ads promising to give you a free copy of your credit report. Unfortunately, instead of being wholly free, they are actually free trials, which means:

  1. You only get them for free once
  2. You have to enter a credit card number
  3. You have to opt out of a bunch of crap services you don't need
  4. You must remember to cancel the service before the trial period is up

All of which is huge pain in the rear. Is there any truly free way that you can use to determine your credit score?

If not, I've heard you can send a letter the the 3 major credit bureaus asking for your reports and get them via the postal service. Taking this route:

  1. What addresses need one send letters to?
  2. What should one's letter contain?
  3. Should a self-addressed, stamped envelope be included?

7 Answers 7


As of 2014, this answer is deprecated. Read answer here for recent developments up to January 2015.

You can get a free credit report yearly, but you don't get your credit score, just the content of your report. This is useful to make sure your credit history is correct, etc. To get that, visit annualcreditreport.com.

Another site which will give you your score for free, really free with no strings attached, is creditkarma.com, which gives you your TransUnion credit score and full TransUnion credit report. The site is run by TransUnion and supported via advertising. At this point Equifax and Experian offer similar services via subscription, but not for free.

Update 8/14/2015:

CreditKarma now offers the Equifax information as part of their service.

  • 6
    Great answer! Another tip is to go to your credit union/bank. Many times they will pull your credit for you for free. It gives them a chance to see if they can bring any of your other business over to them! Many credit unions will also go through it with you and explain how to read it.
    – Rachel
    Commented Feb 9, 2010 at 0:46
  • 1
    For UK residents : annualcreditreport.co.uk Commented Sep 7, 2010 at 15:57
  • 3
    Credit Karma pulls from TransUnion. They also have a newer score model which isn't as widely used from what I've heard (Vantage Score). There is also quizzle which pulls from Experian (which you can't pull from MyFico as of my last check) -- downside is it's one pull per 180 days.
    – Scott
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 13:31

I get my credit scores from all three bureaus for free - no gimmick. I use a combination of banks that offer this service to get my scores. I wrote about this sometime back in my blog. For credit report, the only place to go is AnnualCreditReport.com. I space it out so that I get one every 4 months since there is a once a year restriction per bureau.

  • 1
    Agreed. Good idea on spacing them. However if you haven't been tracking them already and you have a purchase coming up, get all three. They are not always consistent and you'll want to make sure your report is good everywhere. If you have been keeping up with your reports already, then this isn't an issue.
    – Bryson
    Commented May 19, 2011 at 5:06

1/8/2010 Trip Report for AnnualCreditReport.com

I visited annualcreditreport.com to get my annual credit report. It is only the report, not the score or FICO score. This is the only outlet I know of that allows you to get your report for free, without a bunch of strings attached or crap to sign up for and cancel later.

  1. It was very easy. I was wary of putting in my private information, but how else can they possibly pull you up?

  2. Read the instructions carefully. You go to each bureau to fetch your report, and they dutifully give you a free report, but they push hard to try and sell you a score or a report service. It is easy to avoid these if you read carefully.

  3. Once you get a report, you have print it out or you can't see it again for another year. Each bureau has a different site, with different rules, and different identity checks to get in. Again, read the instructions and it isn't hard.

  4. Instead of printing, I just saved the page as HTML. You get one html file and a folder with all the images and other stuff. This suits me but you might like to print.

  5. After you get each report, you have to click a link to back to the annualcreditreport.com site. From there you go to the next bureau.

Regarding a score. Everybody does it differently. Free Issac does FICO, but anybody who pulls your credit can generate a score however they like, so getting a score isn't anywhere near as important as making sure your report is accurate.

You can use credit.com to simulate a score from one of the bureaus (I can't easily see which one at the moment). It is as easy as annualcreditreport.com and I have no issue getting a simulated score and report card.

  • 3
    Don't forget you can "Print to PDF" files and save them that way instead of HTML files.
    – Troggy
    Commented Aug 26, 2010 at 23:51
  • My "trip report": I've never been able to retrieve the report online. I don't know if it's because my last name contains spaces and punctuation (every system handles this differently), because mailing address (PO Box) differs from street address, or some other issue. So I get kicked into a different path that requires: print a form, fill it out, photocopy documents (follow the directions), snail-mail it to the agency, wait a couple of weeks for the report, assuming I followed the directions. Failure to comply gets a reject letter and you have to re-mail everything.
    – bstpierre
    Commented Jun 6, 2011 at 15:55
  • 1
    Since there are 3 bureaus, I now sign in every 4 months instead of once per year, different one each time. Easy to mark the calendar and see the report this way. Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 23:03

I've seen credit cards that provide you your credit score for free, updated once a month and even charted over the last year. Unfortunately the bank I used to have this card with was bought and the purchasing bank discontinued the feature.

Perhaps someone out there knows of some cards that still offer a feature like this?

  • 2
    WaMu nee Providian did this before being acquired by Chase, who discontinued the product :-|
    – warren
    Commented Sep 8, 2010 at 17:23
  • 1
    @warren Thats right. It was a useful feature. Commented Mar 5, 2012 at 8:15
  • 1
    My Delta SkyMiles American Express card has this feature; you can get your full report once a year for free. Not sure if all American Express cards offer this or not.
    – Brad Koch
    Commented Sep 15, 2012 at 19:01
  • 1
    as you might have seen, Discover is now advertising the hell out of this feature
    – AndrewS
    Commented May 9, 2014 at 18:25
  • My Capital One Spark Business card offers this, It's on the mobile app so it may be that holding any Cap One card will get you that privilege.
    – MDMoore313
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 22:16

It appears that you already know this, but FICO credit scores (as controlled by Fair Isaac Corporation) are the real official credit scores, and FICO takes a cut on their production no matter which of the 3 major credit bureaus calculates the official score (all using slightly different methods). Be careful when obtaining a score for making a big decision that it is a FICO score, because relatively few lenders will lend based on a non-FICO score.

That said, some non-FICO scores are easy to obtain and can be roughly translated to an approximation of your score. Barclays US/ Juniper Bank credit cards offer a free Transunion "TransRisk"(TM) score. The TransRisk score is a 900 point scale, while the FICO score is an 850 point scale. This is a simple ratio and you can calculate your approximate FICO score by the formula:

850 * TRscore / 900 ~= something near Transunions version of your FICO score.

Check with your bank.

As of January, 2015, the following banks and credit unions are offering free credit-scores:

  • Barclaycard US
  • First Bankcard (the credit card business of First National Bank of Omaha)
  • Citibank (C),
  • Discover (DFS),
  • Digital Credit Union,
  • the Pentagon Federal Credit Union, and
  • North Carolina's State Employees' Credit Union

Announced, in the pipeline:

  • JPMorgan Chase (JPM)
  • Bank of America

Source: Banks to offer FICO credit scores for free

Personal Experience: I've been receiving free FICO score from my credit union for more than 6 months now.

Advice: Most people have multiple bank/credit-union accounts. The FICO score will be the same whoever offers it. If none of your financial institutions offer you a free credit-score then you may opt for free services like creditkarma.com or other paid services. None of them are the widely used FICO scores, but they can be a good gauge of your credit standing.

Please note that a credit-score is number summarizing your credit-report and should not be confused.

In the news:

  • CapitalOne also offers a free credit score with (at least some of) their credit cards. Interestingly, when I checked my score with them it was about 30 points different from that reported by another card provider (Barclay, IIRC). I think one was FICO, the other TransUnion.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jan 18, 2015 at 2:41
  • Thanks for the update @jamesqf. FAQ #8 here capitalone.com/credit-cards/benefits/credit-tracker says its TransUnion. Commented Jan 18, 2015 at 3:44
  • Does it make sense to update this for Mint and CreditKarma, or have that in a separate answer?
    – Joe
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 22:43

Credit Sesame monitors your credit score for free. My understanding is that they make their money off of credit card referrals.

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