Getting Your Credit Score from a Bank

An easy way to get your credit score can be from your bank. Your credit score is a numerical rating that lenders use, along with your credit reportto assess the risk of offering you a loan or granting you credit.

You can get a free credit report from each of the three major credit agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. With the exception of Experian, you will be charged a fee if you want to see your actual credit score. The good news is that you may be able to get your score for free from a bank or credit card issuer. Here’s how to check your credit score.

Key points to remember

  • Credit scores are important measures of creditworthiness that can determine whether you get a loan, the interest rates you pay on debts, and more.
  • Credit agencies and the government allow consumers free access to their complete credit report on a limited basis.
  • However, banks and credit card issuers are increasingly offering their customers free access to regularly updated credit scores, as well as credit updates and alerts.

How your credit score is calculated

The FICO score is the most commonly used type of credit score. He is calculated using different data your credit report, including:

  • Payment history (35%) — Regular, timely payments and the absence of bankruptcies or payment defaults are proof of sound financial management.
  • Amounts due (30%) — An important number is your credit utilization ratethe amount of debt you are carrying relative to your credit limits.
  • Length of credit history (15%) “The longer, the better.
  • Composition of credit (10%) — It helps to have both revolving and installment credit.
  • New credit (10%) — Too many recent credit applications, which trigger a firm credit checkcan lower your score for several months.

Your credit score affects your ability to qualify for different types of credit, such as auto loans and mortgages, and the terms you’ll be offered. In general, the higher your credit score, the easier it is to qualify for credit and get favorable terms. Since so much can depend on your credit score, it pays to keep track of it and work to improve it when it’s necessary.

Can I get a free credit score from my bank?

Previously, if you wanted to see your credit score, you had to shell out money, either for a monthly subscription service or for a one-time look. However, since 2013, FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation) enabled lenders to make previously hard-to-obtain scores available to consumers for free through its FICO Score Open Access program. FICO announced in December 2018 that more than 300 million people could get their credit scores for free through the program. More than 170 financial institutions and eight of the top 10 credit card issuers participate in open access.

Participating companies include Bank of America, Citibank, Discover, HSBC, Key Bank, Merrick Bank, Navy Federal Credit Union, PenFed Credit Union, Sallie Mae, SunTrust, Union Bank and Wells Fargo.

Get your score

If your bank or credit card issuer offers free credit scores, you should be able to check your score by logging into your online account or by looking at your monthly statement. There are also other resources that allow you to view your credit score or credit report for free. If you’re wondering if you should pay to see your credit score, the answer is probably no.

If you’re not sure if your bank provides access to free scores, or if you’re having trouble finding your score, contact customer service for assistance.

In addition to free credit scores, some banks offer perks designed to help you understand and improve your score. The First National Bank of Omaha, for example, gives you 24/7 online access to your FICO score and shows you which key score factors affected your number. And Barclays provides your credit score and email alerts whenever your credit score has changed.

VantageScore vs. FICO

It is important to note that not all credit scores are created equal and different banks and credit card issuers may provide access to different scores. Shortly after launching the FICO Score Open Access program, credit bureau Experian introduced a similar program, which allows banks to share their VantageScore credit score with consumers.

Today, both of these systems operate on the same 300-850 point scale, and each uses similar criteria to calculate scores, but they weigh each item differently. With FICO, for example, your payment history is 35% of your score; with VantageScore, it’s around 40%.

The result is that the two scores will usually be different, even for the same person on the same day. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s something to be aware of so you can make sure you’re comparing apples to apples when tracking your scores.

What’s free, what’s not

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA)adopted in 2003, requires all Americans to access free credit reports