How to Find Your Real FICO Credit Score

Credit scores can have a huge impact on a person’s financial life. They can be the difference between being approved for a new loan or credit card or being denied

Plus they can play a vital role in determining the interest rate you’ll receive on nearly any loan. So what are the best ways to keep yourself up to date on your credit scores? You have options.

First, there’s Credit Karma, where you can get your free VantageScore 3.0 credit scores from TransUnion and Equifax. VantageScore is a different scoring model than FICO, but is still a good way to gauge your credit standing.

How’s your credit? Check My Equifax® and TransUnion® Scores Now

Another option is to seek out your FICO® scores — scores based on credit-scoring models created by the Fair Isaac Corporation (“FICO” … get it?). And fortunately, you can access your FICO® scores for free in several different places.

What’s the difference between VantageScore and FICO?

The major difference between VantageScore and FICO is the scoring models they use to determine your credit scores. The scoring models are largely based on your credit reports. While they look at similar factors when calculating your scores, different factors — like credit usage, payment history, credit types and more — can be weighed differently. VantageScore is a collaboration between the three main consumer credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.


FICO Score Monitoring: Get FICO Score updates

We notify you of monitored changes to your FICO Score. With every credit monitoring alert, we include your current FICO Score (version 8). Score monitoring helps you see how credit changes affect your score.

With our score history graph, you can track your score progress as you work towards your goal.

Why is my credit report important?

Your credit report provides information for lenders and others about how you make payments, your current and past credit mix, and whether your accounts are (or have been) in good standing. This information can help determine the terms you’re offered when you apply for new credit.

What if I don’t want Wells Fargo to display my FICO® Score anymore?

You can opt out of the service at any time. On the FICO® Score screen, select the I no longer want Wells Fargo to display my FICO® Score link. If you decide to start the service again in the future, you can select View

Your FICO® Credit Score on the Account Summary and follow the instructions to opt back in.

How are credit scores generated?

When someone refers to a "credit score," they’re generally referring to a three-digit rating that represents a borrower’s history of repaying loans and lines of credit. The credit score is generated by applying credit rating company’s algorithm like VantageScore® and FICO® to a borrower’s credit report.

Does Credit Karma Use FICO?

No. However, the credit score Credit Karma provides will be similar to your FICO score. The scores and credit report information on Credit Karma come from TransUnion and Equifax, two of the three major credit bureaus.

5. Credit unions

If you don’t like using credit cards, another option for getting your FICO® scores for free is through a credit union. Not all of them offer this benefit, but if you belong to one, it’s worth checking. A couple of larger credit unions that offer free FICO® scores are Navy Federal Credit Union and DCU Credit Union.

Can credit scores truly predict a borrower’s ability to repay a loan?

Credit scores are not meant to be absolute predictors of whether someone is going to default on their credit payments or not. Rather, they’re used by lenders like a barometer of a borrower’s ability to repay a loan in the future. The Federal Reserve explains it well in its Report to Congress on Credit Scoring, where it states that "credit scores consistently predict relative loan performance within all population groups."

How Credit Karma Makes Money

Credit Karma’s business model is not entirely altruistic. It is a for-profit business that makes money by giving you a free credit score in exchange for learning more about your spending habits and charging companies to serve you targeted advertisements.

Credit Karma places advertisements in front of its users, hoping that they will respond to them by clicking on them. Many of these advertisers are lenders, and Credit Karma may earn a fee if you apply through one of its links.

Your personal data is valuable stuff to advertisers, and they pay more to target it. With more than 100 million users, this is a healthy revenue model for Credit Karma.

Fourth Stop: Contact the Expert (about freakin time)

Looking to sort through the credit score maze, I contacted personal finance guru and author of Your Credit Score, Your Money and What’s at Stake, Liz Weston and explained my situation to her.

First, Liz explained to me my Credit Sesame score. 

“It is true that the scores many consumers get aren’t FICOs, and these ‘consumer education’ scores can be 30 to 100 points higher than your FICOs.”

Okay, great!  Consumer education scores.  That helps a ton! I quickly began to realize there are several different types of credit scores.  So in fact, Credit Sesame’s credit score gives you a general range of where your credit score is at.  My score there wasn’t too far off, so at least it gave me a good starting point.   Now, what about the “mortgage report credit scores”

Liz had an idea but verified with a contact at FICO – nothing like going straight to the source!  She states,

“It was my understanding that most mortgage lenders use the classic FICO score, which is what you get at The scores will be different day-to-day (and even sometimes intraday) because the information in your credit files is constantly changing.

I’m not sure what your banker means when he says Fannie and Freddie worked with the bureaus to changed the FICO formulas, since they (none of them, the agencies or the bureaus) wouldn’t be able to do that. That’s FICO (Fair Isaac’s) purview.

But this wouldn’t be the first time a banker or mortgage lender gave bad info. There’s a whole chapter in my credit scoring book devoted to myths perpetrated by those who should know better.”

She later confirmed that the banker was off in his statement.  In my banker’s defense, this stuff is really confusing – obviously.  Liz adds,

“Fannie and Freddie don’t do anything in concert when it comes to risk-evaluation tools, and neither do the bureaus, other than creating VantageScore as a would-be competitor to FICO (not that VS made much headway).

Fannie and Freddie are evaluating a version of the FICO called the FICO 8 Mortgage Score, but they have yet to tell the mortgage industry that they will accept that score instead of a classic FICO.

The FICO 8 Mortgage Score was introduced to lenders from Equifax in March but just became available to lenders from TransUnion and Experian last month, so your lender couldn’t have been using it to generate scores from all three bureaus earlier this year.

The FICO 8 Mortgage Score does give more weight to a person’s mortgage history, but not to collections. This is in line with other versions of the FICO, such as the one for the auto lending industry that gives more emphasis to a person’s auto loan history.”

There you have it. This is probably more information than you ever wanted to know about your credit score, but at least now I have a better understanding.

If you have a question for Liz, check out her site Ask Liz Weston.

  This lady knows her stuff.  Thanks Liz for helping out!

Tools Analysis: Take aim at your credit goals

Use our tools and analysis to simulate credit events and gain insights into your credit.

See what could happen to your FICO Score (version 8) if you take out a mortgage, pay down a credit card and more. Compare side-by-side simulations for all 3 bureaus. The 3-bureau FICO Score Simulator is only available from myFICO!

Our other tools help you review what's helping and hurting your score, and see up-to-date interest rates for mortgage and auto loans based on your FICO Score.

Second Stop: My Banker

We just completed the building of our dream home earlier this year and refinanced when rates dropped a few months back, so I knew that my bank would have our most recent credit scores.  I contacted my banker to see what scores they had on me.

This is what I got from them:

“776 / 765 / 773    These are from all three credit bureaus.  Also, these are mortgage report credit scores which will be lower than credit scores that you would pull.”

Did you catch that?  Look again:

“….these are mortgage report credit scores…..”

Mortgage report credit scores….what the heck is that? (this is the classic phrase that my Phillipino mother says all the time.  Love you mom!)  Now thoroughly perplexed, I emailed my banker to see exactly what that meant.  His second response: (I’m sure he’s loving me by the way)

“I found out about a year ago, that Freddie & Fannie had been working with the three credit bureaus to set up a scoring model for the purpose of mortgage loan requests.  The mortgage scoring is tougher then the normal consumer scoring.  Both are FICO scores utilizing the same system, but as one example, consumer models don’t give a lot of weight to collection items, whereas the mortgage scoring system does.  People who have collection items on their credit will score lower with the mortgage scoring system then the traditional consumer scoring system.  That’s one of the examples, but since FICO is a proprietary system, the public knows very little about the full details that go into your score.”

After I read the email, this was my response:  Huh?

I knew at this time I was in way over my head.

Just like a typical male that won’t stop to ask directions when he’s completely lost, I trudged on hoping to find my answer of what my real credit score is. Next stop

After going through this process, I have also learned that is also another option in retrieving your free credit score.  They pull your credit score from TransUnion.

Know more than your FICO Score

We think it’s important that you have access to tools that help you understand your credit. That’s why we’re providing a monthly FICO® Score from TransUnion® for free to eligible customers with a consumer credit card.

Not a Bank of America credit card customer? Learn more about available credit cards.

Log in to Online Banking or Mobile Banking on your mobile device and enroll today to:

  • Get your FICO® Score monthly without negatively impacting your credit score
  • See key factors that are impacting your score
  • Track your recent scores month-to-month and compare them to national averages
  • Learn about credit and strategies for keeping credit healthy with Better Money Habits®

Includes those with Merrill® and U.S. Trust® branded cards.

Adjust as life changes, no matter where you are in your journey with Bank of America Life Plan®.


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