Getting your credit score for free

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Credit Sesame, Credit.com, Quizzle.com, and Credit Karma are just a few of the many websites that promise a free credit score. (KFSN)

Credit Sesame, Credit.com, Quizzle.com, and Credit Karma are just a few of the many websites that promise a free credit score. But Consumer Reports says there are hundreds of different ways to score the same credit information. So there's no guarantee that a lender you approach will use the same score that you got online. And many of the sites, including FreeCreditScore.com and Free Score Online, will start charging a monthly fee after a brief trial period.

However, Consumer Reports says there's a program using FICO scores that could help some consumers get more accurate and truly free scores. FICO is the most widely used system among lenders. Under the FICO Score Open Access Program, a number of big lenders are now providing free FICO scores. Those are the ones the lender will really use to judge your credit risk.

Some of the big national lenders who participate are:

- Ally Financial
- Barclaycard
- Chase
- Citi
- Discover
- First Bankcard (FNBO)
- Hyundai Capital
- Merrick Bank
- Pentagon Federal Credit Union
- Sallie Mae
- State Employees' Credit Union (based in North Carolina)

There are limitations to the FICO program. You have to be a customer of the lender. And you may have to have a certain type of account with it-usually a credit card.

Your credit score is based on your detailed credit report, and you need to check that regularly, too. There is only one site that Consumer Reports recommends to get your free credit report. That is AnnualCreditReport.com. Through that site you'll be able to get your credit report free every year from TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.

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financeconsumerconsumer reportsconsumer watch
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