There may be many reasons why you're looking to get your FICO Score—from pure curiosity to needing to know your score so you can improve it to taking out a loan or making a large purchase. Whatever the reason is, you want to be sure that you're getting your true FICO Score. Keep in mind that a FICO Score is different from the VantageScore 3.0® model, which is used to generate your free credit score when you enroll in Chase Credit Journey®. With this free online tool, you can get updates on your score every 7 days (should you check it frequently) with no impact to your score.
In this article, we'll explain:
- What is a true FICO Score?
- 3 steps to take to find you true FICO Score
- How to get your FICO Score for free
What is a true FICO Score?
FICO stands for the Fair Isaac Corporation, which began in 1956 and brought analytic solutions and technologies to the U.S. and around the world. These solutions help to make predictions on consumers' behaviors, provide accurate credit scores and assist businesses with complex management and decisions.
FICO Score is calculated with software from the Fair Isaac Corporation and is used in the majority of lending decisions. Lenders consider this score to help them make quick, accurate and reliable decisions regarding credit risk.
A true FICO score ranges between 300–850 and gets calculated using only information in a consumer's credit report maintained by the three main credit bureaus— Experian™, Equifax® and TransUnion®. To receive a FICO Score, you must have a credit account at least 6 months old and activity during the past 6 months.
FICO breaks its scoring criteria down into 5 categories:
- Payment history: 35%
- Amounts owed: 30%
- Length of credit history: 15%
- Credit mix: 10%
- New credit: 10%
Keep in mind that while there are many different models used to generate a credit score, they are all true/accurate. According to Experian, these models include:
- Experian/Fair Isaac Risk Model v2 (FICO® Score 2)
- Equifax Beacon 5.0 (FICO® Score 5)
- TransUnion FICO® Risk Score 04 (FICO® Score 4)
Some of these scores are used specifically for mortgages, and others (like the FICO Auto Score®) are used to take out a loan for a car. They all are similar in how they are calculated, but each varies depending on what the score is being used for.
3 steps to take to find your true FICO Score
There's a few different ways you can get your FICO Score. Let's explore the process of getting your FICO Score below.
Step 1 – Check with your bank or credit union
The first step you can take towards finding your FICO Score is by checking with your bank or credit union. Hundreds of banks and credit unions partner with FICO through its Open Access Program. If your bank or credit union partners with FICO, log in to your account online. You will likely be provided with a free FICO Score.
Step 2 – Contact your credit card issuer
If your bank doesn't partner with FICO, you'll want to take this next step—check to see if your credit card issuer provides you with a FICO Score. Many issuers partner with FICO, but depending on the issuer, you might be given either a FICO Score or VantageScore 3.0® (or perhaps both). Make sure to check with your issuer's terms and conditions to see if you're given this score for free.
Step 3 – Take out loans
If you're already considering taking out an auto loan or mortgage, it's possible that you'll be able to get your true FICO score through this process. Many dealerships use the FICO Score to help determine the kind of loan you'll be able to receive.
Keep in mind that you can potentially hurt your credit score when the issuer runs a credit inquiry. A credit inquiry can be either hard or soft—a hard inquiry is generally requested by a third party, such as a lending institution or credit card issuer. It pulls your credit report from one of the three credit bureaus. You should expect a hard inquiry if you apply for a home loan or credit card. This kind of inquiry could impact your score by up to 5 points.
A soft inquiry, on the other hand, happens when you request your own credit report, or if a credit card company wants to review your credit for eligibility for a new line of credit. This type of inquiry won't affect your credit score.
If you're worried that taking out a loan could hurt your credit score, use Chase Credit Journey's Credit Insider to help educate and guide you through the process.
How to get a free FICO Score
While the above steps can be helpful for finding your FICO score, it's possible that there's could be a cost associated with receiving it—whether that's a financial cost/fee or a cost to your credit score due to a credit inquiry. You may be able to get a free credit score through one of the financial bureaus or some third-party mobile apps. However, scores may differ depending on the model used to calculate your score, so don't be surprised to find different scores.
Your FICO Score is important, but it's not the only score that's used widely by banks, lenders and credit card issuers. When you enroll in Chase Credit Journey®, you can get access to your free VantageScore 3.0 and credit report. This is an easy, fast and accurate way of checking your credit score without hurting it.
Checking your credit score is important
Whether it's your VantageScore or FICO score, monitoring your credit score is extremely important to your financial health. It can help improve your credit by seeing which factors are hurting or boosting it, and you can find and correct errors by monitoring your score.
If you want to get a free VantageScore 3.0 and be able to check this score regularly without impacting your score, enroll in Credit Journey®. This free online tool provides you with information that helps you understand credit, what your score means and allows you to access helpful tools continue on your financial journey.