I've had a few friends ask me lately where they should be getting their credit score from. With so many places offering it either for free or "free" it's hard to know where is best.TLDR: Pay for MyFico.com
The first thing I explain to them is that there are different models used to create a credit score. You have to decide which model you want to get a score from and then go from there.
The two popular ones currently are FICO 8 and Vantage Plus 3 (a model created by Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). FICO is used by the majority (~90%) of lenders, and is the score you should really be looking at if you're actively looking to get any type of loan. That's not to say that Vantage doesn't have it's perks though. Vantage scores can be obtained for free, where as the only way you're getting a FICO score is from the Fair Isaac Corporation itself. Getting a FICO score through Discover? That's because they're paying Fair Isaac Corporation to get it. FICO is never free, someone is always paying for it. Vantage on the other hand can usually be obtained many different ways to where if anyone is paying for it, it's not you and it's not much.
If you're going the free route, and your credit card doesn't offer you a FICO score, you should look at CreditKarma.com. They offer a truly free Vantage Plus 3 score updated periodically. The way they're able to offer this score for free is they anonymously use your data and provide you with credit and bank offers. These offers are sponsored. Credit card providers get to target people more accurately through a platform like Credit Karma so they pay Credit Karma to suggest their cards to certain people. I've been signed up for CK since it was in beta years
ago and they've always been a great free service.
Rebuilding your credit or want to take a more active approach to monitoring your credit? Your FICO score is what you should be looking at. As mentioned above the only people calculating this score is the Fair Isaac Corporation. Your bank doesn't know how your score is calculated, your credit card company doesn't, your auto dealership can't tell you how your score was calculated. Only Fair Isaac Corporation.
If you're paying anyone
for your FICO score other than the Fair Isaac Corporation you may want to reconsider. Those people are reselling your FICO score to you and taking a cut. They may offer other services along with it, but you're allowing them access to this data. That access needs to come with some perks else it's not worth it.https://www.myfico.com/
is offered by Fair Isaac Corporation. When you're paying this site, you're paying for your FICO score directly. myfico.com
isn't free, of course, but their costs are pretty reasonable for what they offer in my opinion. At $24.95 you get a report from Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. You also get multiple versions of your FICO score (yes, there's different versions used by different types of lenders) instantly. Most importantly, in my opinion, is that you get alerts any time something is reported to either of those 3 bureaus as well as an updated credit score. This means any time you look at this site you're viewing your most up to date FICO 8 scores.
The site provides numerous helpful tools, and it's very well laid out. One of those tools is a credit score calculator that lets you estimate how your score will be affected based on different things. Who better to get a tool like this from than from FICO themselves?
If you're getting a score through your credit card or bank, take a moment to find out what kind of score it is. Capital One, for example, gives you a credit score. The fine print? The model they use is the " TransUnion New Account Model". This model isn't one that even Capital One uses for lending purposes, let alone anyone else.
Even if your credit card or bank offers a FICO, they almost never offer one for all 3 bureaus. You may have a FICO Bankcard 8 for Equifax but if you go to finance a car through Mercedes you'l find out they use Fico Auto 8 Transunion only. Not everything is reported to all 3, and your scores will typically vary between them. a couple of points can sometimes be the difference in your loan rate. 600-649 is considered a 27% risk, where as 650 to 699 is a 13% risk, and 700-749 is a 5% risk (according to FICO). Those are pretty huge differences.
Confused about any of the above or just have some questions I might be able to answer? Feel free to put them in the comments below