How Free Credit Scores and Free Credit Reports are Calculated
Wells Fargo and Discover Card say they now provide free credit scores along with Barclaycard and First Bankcard — financial monitoring website, CreditKarma, touts that you can get your credit scores online in minutes — others now offering free scores include the online credit-educational sites Credit.com, Quizzle and CreditSesame.
Here’s the problem — the new free credit scores aren’t all the same, so your score from one could be very different from one crunched by another. The card issuers and sites offering free scores use different formulas and scoring ranges to calculate your creditworthiness.
When comparing credit scores from free credit score providers against my FICO, you can get quite a spread — a score (from CreditKarma) can be a stunning 150 points higher than my FICO. The new free scores from consumer sites are often “ballparks,” not the ones used by financial institutions to determine credit.
These free sites will give you a good idea of your credit health. But beware: To get one of those scores, you’ll have to enter personal information at their sites. Some ask for things such as your Social Security number, your pre-tax income, your available savings and your monthly mortgage payments.