Maintaining a healthy credit score is essential for anyone who wants a maximize earning miles and points with credit cards.
In general a credit score of 720 or higher is good enough to get approved for the best credit card offers available and this means the potential of earning tons of free airline miles each year.
There are a handful of easy and useful ways to check your credit score for free, so I’ve put together a list of them here. I personally use and recommend many of these credit monitoring websites and using them only results in a soft credit pull. If you’re concerned about your credit score being affected, don’t worry because checking through these sites won’t affect your score.
Remember that your FICO score is based on a range from 300-850 and similarly all of these websites or services will provide a score within that range, however some will be FAKO scores vs. FICO scores (read more below).
FICO vs. FAKO Scores
It's important to remember that most credit card issuers use the FICO score to evaluate your credit worthiness when approving your for a new account. In some instances credit issuers will use VantageScore or another score type, but the chances are small in comparison to them using your FICO score.
Most of the free credit monitoring sites mentioned below provide a proxy of your actual credit score, and thus should be ideally used for a tool to indicate your credit score health. The score provided from these websites can vary greatly, up to 50-100 points, from your real FICO score (the one credit cared issuers use).
The takeaway is that these sites can be a great way to learn more about credit score and track it over time, but the scores given will not be the same that credit card issuers use when they decide to approve or deny your credit application.
Free Credit Monitoring Websites
Credit Sesame is a free online service to check your credit score regularly based on your Experian score. Scores are updated once a month so it’s a good method of checking the health of your score. Similar to your FICO score, Credit Sesame provides scores that are within the 300-850 range.
Quizzle offers its users a way to check their EquiFax VantageScore and credit report for free every six months. An added bonus of using Quizzle is that you get two free credit reports per year, though you’re your score will also only be updated every six months. This makes it a bit more difficult to track changes in your score, but at least it free.
Another free credit score checking service is Credit Karma. You can get a weekly updated score with visuals of the health of your credit score based on your TransUnion score.
Your reports provide specific information with a report card that grades how you score within different credit score categories, which can be helpful to know a little more about which area you can improve your score.
WalletHub is one of the newer credit score and monitoring sites that allows you to track your credit score for free. One excellent aspect of their service is that your credit score is updated daily and provides your with a TransUnion VantageScore 3.0.
Another feature that WalletHub offers is a full TransUnion credit report for free at no additional usage requirement.
Similar to the other sites mentioned above WisePiggy allows your to check and monitor your credit score for free. You need to join the site and create an account to be able to access your free credit score.
WisePiggy provides a VantageScore from the TransUnion credit bureau, which is the same system that Credit Karma uses.
Credit.com provides it's users free access to two different credit scores and it provided from Experian. The credit score given to users include their Experian National Equivalency Score and their Experian VantageScore 3.0 credit score.
Credit Cards That Offer Free FICO Score
There are a handful of credit cards on the market that give cardholders a free FICO score on their monthly statement or through their online account. Here is a list of current credit cards that offer a free FICO score to users:
American Express offers it's cardholders a free FICO score which can be accessed online through their personal online account. There are many valuable Amex travel cards and several free Amex cards include the The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express and the Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express.
Barclaycard gives its credit cardholders the perk of a free TransUnion FICO score which can be easily access through users online account.
The most popular Barclaycard rewards credit card is by far the Arrival Plus World MasterCard, which does have an annual fee that is waived the first year and also offers a 50,000 mile welcome bonus.
Through Barclaycards' FICO score benefit you’re able to receive email alerts anytime there is a significant change to your score and your also provided with graphs and charts that show you how your credit score stacks up.
Capital One offers it's cardholders a feature tracks your credit, which gives users an estimated FICO score and credit report summary. Several no annual fee credit cards offered by Capital One include the VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card and the Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card.
Capital One also offers several valuable business credit cards such as the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business, but I'm unsure if a free FICO score is also offered as a perk on business cards.
Following suite of other major credit card issuers offering a free FICO credit score Chase also began offering this perk in 2015. Unfortunately until now a free FICO score is only offered on the Chase Slate® Credit Card and not the more valuable travel rewards credit cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Freedom.
Bank of America
Since 2015 Bank of America has also offered a FICO score to its consumer credit card holders. The most popular travel rewards credit card Bank of America offers is the Alaska Airlines Visa, which recently increased it's welcome bonus to 30,000 bonus miles.
Citi also hopped on board in 2015 and offers it's cardholders a FICO score provided by Equifax through their online account. Cards that feature this perk include the Citi ThankYou Preferred, the Citi ThankYou Premier, the Citi Prestige, and select co-branded cards such as the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard.
U.S. Bank gives its cardholders a free TransUnion credit score and credit report through their service called CreditView.
Discover offers a free FICO credit score for its members through TransUnion. Updated credit scores are available with every monthly statement and can also be accessed through users online account, so over time cardholders can see whether their credit score has changed.
A few Discover cards that offer this benefit for free include the Discover it, the Discover it Miles, and the Discover it for Students credit card.
The Bottom Line
Through these different methods you can check your score for free through all three credit bureaus you can easily get a clear view of your credit score. Ultimately I prefer having a credit card that gives me my FICO score that allows me to easily track in through my online account. Most credit card issuers offer this perk which makes it very convenient and you may already have a credit card that does so.
Checking your credit score on the Credit Sesame, Quizzle, Credit Karma, or through your Barclays or Discover cards are all only soft pulls so your credit score won’t be affected. So there is no reason why you should not use a mix of these sites to find out where your score stands and stay up-to-date with any changes to your score.
It’s important to note that free credit monitoring sites almost exclusively offer a FAKO score, not a FICO score. The difference being that FICO scores are the same scores a potential lender sees, FAKO scores are that company’s (or website's) own formula or proxy based off from the real score.
This is important because I’ve had as much as an ~60 point difference between the two, so be aware that there can be differences between these two scores.
Read more about how to maintain a high credit score:
Tips on Maintaining a Healthy Credit Score
Beginner’s Guide to Applying for Multiple Credit Cards: Check and Review Your Credit Score
What Hard Inquiries Mean for Your Credit Score
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