Discover has given its cardholders free access to their FICO (TransUnion) FICO scores for a few years now. But it’s taken that several steps further to offer free Experian FICO scores to everyone (not just cardholders).
The new service is called Credit Scorecard, and it’s the first free, widely available credit-tracking service to offer a free FICO score.
What Credit Scorecard offers
Once you sign up (again, you don’t have to be a Discover cardholder), you’ll get access to your Experian FICO score and a personalized credit summary. That summary includes:
- Total number of accounts reporting to Experian
- Length of credit history
- Number of inquiries reported on your Experian report
- Revolving credit utilization
- Number of missed payments on your Experian report
You also get a more complete version of your Scorecard, which includes a breakdown of the scoring factors in your summary, how your score compares to others your age, and the factors that are helping and hurting your score:
Your Credit Scorecard will refresh every 30 days.
How does it compare?
There are lots of free-credit-score sites out there, both from issuers (like Capital One) and from other parties (like Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, etc.). Each has features to consider, and some are more robust than others.
How Credit Scorecard may be better: It’s quite simple – Credit Scorecard offers you a free Experian FICO score, and it’s the first widely available free service to do so.
FICO is the most popular score among lenders, so knowing where you stand before applying for a card or a loan is extremely valuable. Granted, you have two other FICO scores (from TransUnion and Equifax), and you should know all three before applying for a major loan, like a mortgage. After all, each credit bureau may have slightly different information on you and produce a slightly different FICO score. But, when it comes to keeping tabs on your credit health and knowing when you’re ready for a card designed for excellent credit, having access to your Experian FICO score is a powerful asset.
Before Credit Scorecard, you had to buy your FICO scores (for about $20 each) or have a credit card that offers free FICO scores.
How Credit Scorecard may fall behind: As valuable as your FICO score is, Credit Scorecard doesn’t offer some of the features that other free-score services and websites do. For example, you get just a summary of your Experian report data. You don’t get access to an actual credit report, which other services provide (see a list here). Being able to see your report is helpful, as it allows you to spot mistakes or evidence of identity theft (such as accounts opened by a fraudster in your name). Some sites even email you alerts whenever something on your report changes.
Other free-score sites also have score-prediction tools, which allow you to see how your score might fluctuate if you, say, closed an account or applied for a new one.
The bottom line
How exactly Credit Scorecard measures up to other similar services may be beside the point, however. All these sites are free. And all of them employ a soft pull on your credit, meaning you could sign up for all of them at once and not harm your credit.
So, if you want to feel fully advised of your credit health, you may want to utilize several services and stitch them together to get a nearly complete credit picture. We can say, however, that, while it may not give you anything you want, Discover’s Credit Scorecard is a vital piece of your credit-tracking puzzle, as it’s the only free service to offer an Experian FICO score.
Compare other free-score services in the table below:
|Comparing sites that offer free credit scores/reports|
|Free score types||Free credit report?||Frequency of score/report updates||Explanation of score factors||Free credit monitoring||Credit score prediction/simulator tool?|
|Credit Karma||VantageScore 3.0 from TransUnion and Equifax||YES. From TransUnion and Equifax||Every 7 days||YES||YES, via TransUnion||YES|
|Credit Sesame||VantageScore 3.0 from TransUnion.||NO. Can pay per viewing ($9.95 for TransUnion report) or via monthly subscription (starts at $7.95/month for monthly access to TransUnion, Equifax and Experian reports).||Monthly||YES||YES, via TransUnion||NO|
|Quizzle||VantageScore 3.0 from TransUnion.||YES. TransUnion report.||Every three months (every month for paid accounts)||YES||NO. Can pay for monitoring plan (starts at $8/month)||NO|
|My.CreditCards.com||VantageScore 3.0 from TransUnion||YES. TransUnion report.||Monthly||YES||YES, via TransUnion||NO|
|Credit.com||Vantage 3.0 from Experian; Experian National Equivalency Score||No. Must sign up for access to Experian report with Experian CreditWorks ($1 for 7-day trial, then $21.95/month)||Monthly||YES||NO. Requires paid plan.||NO|
|Mint.com||Equifax Credit Score (proprietary model used by Equifax)||NO. Can get Equifax credit report via Mint Credit Monitor ($16.99/month).||Quarterly score. Monthly for paid subscribers. Monthly credit report via Mint Credit Monitor (paid)||YES||NO. Three-bureau monitoring via Mint Credit Monitor.||NO|
|Wise Piggy||VantageScore 3.0 from TransUnion||NO. Provides “Account Summary”||Monthly||YES||NO||NO|
|Lending Tree||VantageScore 3.0 from TransUnion||NO||Monthly||YES||NO||NO|