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FICO Scores are used in 90% of U.S. lending decisions—here's where to get yours for free

FICO Scores are used in 90% of U.S. lending decisions, making it key to know your credit score. Here are resources that provide access to your free FICO Score.

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The next time you apply for credit — whether that’s a credit card, auto loan or mortgage — you should check your FICO Score first. Lenders use FICO Scores in the majority (90%) of U.S. lending decisions.

Knowing and understanding your three-digit FICO credit score is key to gauging what financial products you may qualify for and the terms you’ll receive. The higher your FICO Score, the better chances you have of receiving low interest rates and competitive terms.

There are dozens of resources available for you to check your FICO Score, but many charge a fee. If you want to see where your score stands without paying anything, check out these resources we rounded up that have free FICO Score access.

Where to get your free FICO Score

The first place you should check for your free FICO Score is with your credit card issuer. Many card issuers provide their cardholders with free access to their credit score. While there’s a good chance you’ll have access to your credit score, the key is whether it’s your FICO Score or VantageScore.

Both scoring models are helpful for understanding what factors are affecting your credit score, but ultimately FICO Scores are more beneficial since lenders favor them when determining your creditworthiness.

Here are some issuers that provide free FICO Score access to their cardholders:

  • American Express
  • Bank of America
  • Citi
  • Discover
  • Wells Fargo

In order to have access to your free FICO Score, you’ll typically need to be the primary account holder on a consumer card. Once you meet the eligibility requirements, you can view your free FICO credit score from within your online account. Many mobile apps also have credit score dashboards.

If you don’t have an eligible credit card from one of the issuers above, you can still access your free FICO Score with these two resources:

Anyone can view their free FICO Score with either service and there’s no credit card required to register. Free FICO Score resources offered by card issuers and credit reporting companies typically provide you with updates to your credit score every 30 days.

If you want to stay on top of changes to your credit file, consider a credit monitoring service that alerts you when there are changes to your credit report, such as new inquiries and accounts opened in your name. Experian offers a free and paid version. Both Experian free credit monitoring and Experian IdentityWorks℠ provide you with an early notice of potential fraud, so you can take steps to protect your personal information.

Read more about Experian credit monitoring services.

Experian Free Credit Monitoring

Experian Free Credit Monitoring
On Experian's secure site
  • Cost

    Free

  • Credit bureaus monitored

    Experian

  • Credit scoring model used

    FICO

  • Dark web scan

    Yes, one-time only

  • Identity insurance

    No

Terms apply.

Experian IdentityWorks℠

Experian IdentityWorks℠
On Experian's secure site
  • Cost

    $9.99 to $29.99 per month

  • Credit bureaus monitored

    Experian for Plus plan or Experian, Equifax and TransUnion for Premium plan

  • Credit scoring model used

    FICO

  • Dark web scan

    Yes

  • Identity insurance

    Yes, up to $500,000 for Plus plan and up to $1 million for Premium plan

Terms apply.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.