What you get: Score estimates across five different scoring models, including FICO and VantageScore, based on your credit report with TransUnion, one of the three major credit reporting agencies. The "Credit Report Card" analyzes your performance in the five major factors that make up scores, such as payment history and debt usage. You get both an explanation for each category and a letter grade, A through F. Subscribers can obtain a new report card every 30 days.
You don't get a full credit report, though, or exact scores. For a free and complete credit report, head to AnnualCreditReport.com.
What you get: A real score from TransUnion, based on your credit report with that credit reporting agency. It is not a FICO score, but a TransRisk score from TransUnion. TransRisk scores run from 100 to 900.
Subscribers also get access to a credit report card, which assigns a letter grade to the consumer's performance in five categories, such as percent of on-time payments. It also shows you how your performance compares with that of other Credit Karma members. Consumers also get access to a credit score simulator, which lets you gauge the impact to your score if certain changes hit your credit report, such as a 30-day delinquency. CEO Ken Lin says that to come up with the score change, the new information is run through the TransRisk scoring model.
Consumers don't get a full TransUnion credit report. For a free and complete credit report, go to AnnualCreditReport.com.
FICO Score Estimator
What you get: The FICO score estimator at Bankrate.com provides a FICO score range, sans credit report. The tool asks 10 questions about your credit situation to come up with a score range, and doesn't require any identifying information.
If you want to know your TransUnion and Equifax FICO score, you can buy them from myFICO.com. Consumers can no longer obtain their Experian FICO scores.
What you get: Quizzle gives you a credit score from CE Analytics, called a CE Score, and a credit report from Experian, one of the three major credit-reporting agencies. Scores range from 350 to 850. Along with a credit rating, the site provides several reasons your score isn't higher.
You can order a free report and score every six months, or pay $7 for each additional peek. Quizzle lets you dispute inaccuracies on your report directly with Experian.
For a $25 monthly fee, or $75 for four months, you can get personalized, step-by-step instructions on how to improve your score.
The site features other free tools, such as a budget and emergency fund tracker. On the downside, credit card issuers currently do not use the CE Score when making decisions about extending credit.
Why and where to get your score
When you're in the market for a loan or credit card, it pays to know your credit score. Good credit scores can help you secure more favorable interest rates and lower fees. A bad score can raise the cost of borrowing or even cause the lender to reject your application.
You won't know where you stand until you check. Then you can take steps to improve your credit rating. Use these tools to help you get started.