If you’re searching for your credit score, you can put your wallet away, because you’re not going to need it. In recent years credit scores have become easier for consumers to access free of charge. Numerous websites give away free scores if you’re willing to read marketing emails from time to time. And, several large lenders and credit card issuers are also giving away free credit scores each month to their customers simply for being a cardholder.
The free credit score giveaways by credit card companies is a trend that has been growing for several years. And the momentum of free scores continues, all to the benefit of consumers. So, if you’re interested in seeing your FICO or VantageScore credit scores, you probably don’t have to look very hard.
Why Do Credit Card Issuers Have Your Credit Scores in the First Place?
It’s worth pointing out that your credit card issuers aren’t simply purchasing your credit scores to share them with you out of a sense of altruism. Your credit card issuers were most likely already accessing your credit score each month, and using that score for account management purposes, which is a very common practice.
Many of the card issuers who offer free credit scores to their customers are now simply sharing the scores they already purchased. So, it’s a secondary use of the same data.
Unlike most other lenders, your credit card issuers don’t just care about how you’re managing your specific account with them; they’re also concerned with the rest of the accounts on your credit reports.
Credit card issuers are loaning money to you repeatedly, not just once like when you take out a mortgage or auto loan. So if the condition of your credit deteriorates in the future – whether due to late payments, new collections, or other credit problems — then your card issuer may want to change the terms of your account, or perhaps even stop doing business with you altogether. That’s why they’re constantly accessing your credit score information.
Your Scores May Be Different, But That’s Fine
Because you have dozens of FICO and VantageScore credit scores, the score your card issuer shares with you may be different from the credit scores you pulled online or the scores you received when another lender checked your credit. You might even receive free credit scores from multiple credit card issuers and find that those scores don’t match either. Yet, seeing a difference in credit scores is entirely normal.
All of your credit scores are based on the same data, which is the information contained in your credit reports. If you focus on maintaining responsible credit management habits, then your credit scores should improve or continue to remain in great shape, regardless of what lender is accessing them or giving them away to you monthly.
Additionally, if the free credit scores your card issuers share with you continue to climb month after month, then all the credit scores you don’t see with regularity are most likely improving as well.
- Related: Comparing Your Many Credit Scores
Which Credit Cards Give Away Free Credit Scores?
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently published a list of card issuers who provide free credit scores to at least some cardholders, to make it easier for consumers to identify whether any of their card issuers participate.
Some big names you’ll recognize on the list include Bank of America, Barclays, Capital One, Chase, Citibank, Discover, US Bank, and Wells Fargo, among others. The CFPB says it released the list in an effort to “raise awareness of how consumers can access and use their credit scores to help manage their financial lives.”
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John Ulzheimer is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring, and identity theft. He has written four books on the topic and has been interviewed and quoted thousands of times over the past 10 years. With time spent at Equifax and FICO, Ulzheimer is the only credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry. He has been an expert witness in over 230 credit related lawsuits and has been qualified to testify in both federal and state courts on the topic of consumer credit.