There are lots of services out there that give free credit scores, but they all simulate scores based on their own models. These are called FAKO scores that aren’t going to be used in a credit approval decision. A FAKO score can be significantly different than your FICO score, discrepancies of more than 100 points aren’t uncommon.
Discover is launching Credit Scorecard and it gives a real Experian 8 FICO score. It does not hurt your score if you check your own score. You don’t need a Discover card to join and check your FICO score for free.
AMEX also gives Experian 8 FICO scores to their cardholders and indeed it was an exact match:
Interestingly if you have a Discover credit card they provide you with another FICO score, the Transunion 8:
Barclaycard also provides a Transunion 8 FICO score to its cardholders, it was taken a day later and was 1 points higher than the score Discover gave:
Other programs that you signup for aren’t giving you a real FICO score.
You can keep tabs on all 3 of your reports with annualcreditreport.com, the only government sanctioned credit report site. If there are mistakes there be sure to dispute them! If there are hard pulls that shouldn’t be there, if there are duplicate hard pulls, or if there are pulls older than 24 months old you should dispute those as well. Unfortunately that site only shows your report, it does not give you a credit score.
One trick to get your score higher is to pay off what you spend, besides for a buck or 2, before your monthly statement prints. Once your statement is generated even if you pay it off on time you will lose up to 30% of your score depending on how much you owe that month. You can call your credit card bank to have all your card’s statements print on the same day of the month to keeps things organized.
If you can’t swing that, then try spending on a business card where the spending doesn’t affect your personal credit score. Some other tips can be found in this post from the DD archives.