How to Order Your Credit Score

A businessman uses the phone in a bright, sunny office. A printout of his credit score sits on his desk.

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Your credit score is a three-digit number that banks use to approve your application for credit cards, loans, and other credit-based services. Banks aren't the only businesses that use your credit score, though. You'll find that utility companies, landlords, cell phone providers, and even some hospitals all check your credit score.

Why Should You Check Your Credit Score

You should check your credit score regularly to see where you stand, especially before putting in a major loan application. Reviewing your credit score before applying for a loan will give you an idea of whether you'll get approved and the kind of interest rate you can expect. People with credit scores lower than 620 find it harder to get applications approved and are typically left with higher interest rates.​

Different Kinds of Scores

A credit score is a general term given to the numerical value of your credit report. There are specific "brands" of credit scores that are used. The FICO score, named by its developers, Fair Isaac Corporation, is the best-known brand of credit score. The VantageScore is another type of credit score developed by the three credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. 

5 Ways to Get Your Credit Score

There are a several places to purchase your credit score or to access it for free. Here are some of the best options.


You can order your FICO score from This score is based on your Experian, Equifax, and Transunion FICO credit reports. In addition to an educational credit score, gives you access to industry-specific scores used by mortgage and auto lenders. also offers three different levels of credit monitoring for a monthly fee. Each level includes an updated FICO score as well as access to credit reports from one or more of the three bureaus.

2. Any of the Credit Bureaus

You can purchase your individual and three-in-one credit scores from each of the credit bureaus. Keep in mind that each credit bureau has its own credit scoring model and credit file, so your credit scores could differ from each other and might even be different from your FICO score.

3. Free Credit Score Websites

Several websites currently offer completely free, no-subscription-required credit scores, including Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, and CreditWise from Capital One.


Watch out for any free credit score website that asks you to enter a credit card number. You're being enrolled in a trial subscription to a credit-monitoring service. If you don't cancel before the trial ends, the company will start charging your credit card for the service.

4. Your Credit Card Statement

Certain credit card issuers participate in a FICO service that allows cardholders to view their FICO scores for free. If your credit card issuer participates, you only have to view your monthly statement or log in to your online account to see your recent FICO score.

5. Be Denied for Credit or Approved for Less-Favorable Terms

This method isn't foolproof, but here's how it works. Lenders and credit card issuers are now required to send a copy of the credit score used in a decision to either deny an application for credit or to approve it for less-favorable terms than those applied for. You don't do anything to receive this credit score besides make the application.

If your credit score plays a role in an unfavorable application, you'll automatically receive the score along with the top factors affecting it.


If you don't want to go through the hassle of ordering your credit score or signing up for a new service, you can use's free credit score estimator. The tool estimates your credit score based on the information you enter about your credit history. You'll have to be familiar with the information on your credit report to get an accurate estimate of your credit score.

Annual Free Credit Score?

All consumers are entitled to a free copy of their credit reports each year from every credit bureau through While these reports do not contain credit scores, they can provide insight into the state of your credit. You'll be able to see late payments, collection accounts, and other issues that might lower your score and lessen your chances of being offered good terms on a loan or credit card.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Equifax. "What Is a Credit Score?"

  2. Wells Fargo. "How to Get a Loan: What Lenders Look For."

  3. Experian. "The Difference Between VantageScore Scores and FICO Scores."

  4. FICO. "Your FICO Score, From FICO."

  5. FICO. "FICO Score Open Access Program Hits Milestone, Enabling Lenders and Financial Counselors to Offer Consumers Free Access to Their FICO Scores."

  6. Federal Trade Commission. "Using Consumer Reports for Credit Decisions: What to Know About Adverse Action and Risk-Based Pricing Notices."

  7. FICO. "FICO Score Estimator."

  8. ""

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