A free lunch may be hard to find, but a FREE Credit Score is not, thank goodness. You don’t have to subscribe to a “credit monitoring service” to get your score. You don’t have to sign up for a “free trial” by giving out your credit card number. You do not have to remember to cancel out of said “free service” on day 29 so you aren’t charged. And you don’t even have to give out your social security number if you don’t want to (if you use Quizzle, note that CreditKarma will need it).
Quizzle, which used to be a service of Quicken Loans and is now owned by BankRate, gives you not only your Experian free credit score, but your full printable Experian credit report (mine is 17 pages long!), but also your house’s current value if you are a homeowner (good), an analysis of your saving habits called the “Rainy Day Fund” (good), a budget report (not so useful for me), and a mortgage calculator (again, of limited use to me).
What tools do they have on their website?
In addition to a free credit score, there are financial quizzes and calculators – the usual stuff. And, I repeat: you do not have to enter your social security number. You do have to fill out two short online forms. You get a free updated score/report every six months – no strings attached. If you don’t want to hear from quizzle.com again about rates, your credit score, or their newsletter in the future, be sure to unsubscribe under “Alerts.”
CreditKarma, which was started by a former financial services marketing professional from San Francisco, is surely a keeper. Tagged as a “pro-consumer” site, I see nothing to dispute that claim: they believe that free access to credit information is a right. Well, right on! CreditKarma gives you your TransUnion TransRisk free credit score when you join. The site is secure, and I could not find any negative press or problems with identity theft or security.
They use the same encryption and security precautions as leading financial institutions – TrustE, McAfee Secure, Verisign – and they even use Hackersafe. They are also registered with the Better Business Bureau.
Nervous about entering your Social Security Number?
Here is what they say in their FAQ if you are nervous about entering your social security number: “In order to retrieve your first credit score, we must use your social security number. We only use your SSN for this first score retrieval, and we do not store it in our database. After this one-time use, we will not need your SSN again and it will not be stored on any of our systems.”
When you get your free credit score, you are given a soft-sell from various partners (I got offers for Discover Card and Virgin mortgage – no thanks!) but the credit dashboard is quite useful. You can see your score over time, and they have a very nifty realtime simulator that helps you understand the impact of various actions on your credit score.
Overall, the experiences using both FREE credit score services was easy and helpful. Both services claim to do a “soft pull” on your credit and it should not negatively affect your score. Remember, your Experian/TransUnion scores are not the same as your FICO score. They use different algorithms. One thing to mention: my TransUnion TransRisk score was lower than my Experian score by 38 points, but I’ve heard this is common. Other than that, I’m very happy with both free services. Take your pick!