Dozens of digital credit monitoring tools have hit the market over the last few years. While it’s easier than ever to access your credit score for free, it can also be difficult to determine which app is the most effective. We’ve rounded up the best free credit score apps to help you select the one that’s ideal for your needs.
- Best overall: Credit Karma
- Most accurate: Experian
- Best credit score simulator: CreditWise
- Best for business credit scores: Nav
We’ll also cover how to get your three major credit bureau reports for free.
Best Overall: Credit Karma
Credit Karma gives you updated credit score information daily. They provide credit reports from two out of the three major credit bureaus (TransUnion and Equifax) and use Vantage 3.0 to provide credit score estimates.
Additionally, Credit Karma provides personalized recommendations to help you improve your credit score. They’ll also recommend credit cards and other financial products you’re likely to qualify for, although it’s important to note that Credit Karma does work directly with advertising partners for many of these recommendations.
Recently, Credit Karma expanded into banking, and they now offer free checking and savings accounts.
Credit Karma Key Features
- Provides daily credit score updates. Users can see their credit score trajectory mapped out over time, as well as an overview of all open credit accounts. On top of that, Credit Karma provides a detailed breakdown of the factors that affect your credit score, such as total usage, payment history, inquiries and more.
- Personalized recommendations. Credit Karma will recommend actionable steps you can take to improve your credit score, such as prioritizing certain payments, taking out a personal loan to reduce interest, or opening a new credit account to lower your total credit utilization.
- Financial simulators and calculators. Credit Karma offers a variety of financial tools to help you plan for the future, including a credit score simulator, mortgage refinance calculator and more.
- Financial tools and support. If you’re struggling financially, Credit Karma can connect you with financial relief programs in your area. They also have tools to help you file your taxes and protect your financial identity.
If you want to improve your credit but aren’t sure how to start, Credit Karma provides plenty of actionable insights that you can use to improve your score quickly. If you do decide to take out a loan or open a new credit card, it’s easy to browse options directly on their platform. Credit Karma only shows you products that you’re likely to get approved for, which streamlines the application process.
Most Accurate: Experian App
Experian is one of the three major credit bureaus. They launched the Experian app to give consumers an easy way to keep track of their Experian credit score and manage their credit accounts. Because it’s run by one of the major credit bureaus, this app gives you a very accurate representation of your FICO score using the FICO Score 8 model.
The Experian app provides an updated credit score every 30 days. You’ll be able to see a full report of your current credit accounts and balances, and you’ll be able to view the progression of your credit score over time. If you need to dispute any of the items in your credit report, the app makes it easy to do so online for free.
Experian App Key Features
- Accurate monthly FICO score. Every month, you’ll get an updated credit score directly from Experian. You’ll also be able to look at your scores from Equifax and TransUnion and see how they differ across the three bureaus.
- Account information. See the balances of all your open credit accounts in one place. You’ll also get information about the ways each account affects your credit score overall.
- Credit monitoring. The Experian app monitors your credit report for new inquiries, new credit cards, and public records that could affect your credit score. You’ll get a notification directly on your phone so you can follow up right away. If you decide to dispute anything on your credit report, you’ll be able to do so directly from the app.
- Experian Boost. Experian Boost is a tool designed to help you improve your credit score quickly by reporting on-time rent and bill payments to credit bureaus. Experian Boost finds these payments through your bank and credit card statements. While it can’t fix every credit issue, Experian Boost is an effective way to improve your credit score quickly or build credit if you don’t have any.
Experian shows users their FICO score, rather than using Vantage 3.0. FICO Score 8 and Vantage 3.0 are both credit scoring models used by lenders and other financial institutions to assess applicants for mortgages, credit cards, and other credit products.
The FICO model is older, while the Vantage model was created in 2006 as an alternative to FICO. While Vantage 3.0 is increasing in popularity, many lenders still use FICO scores. Because of this, having access to an accurate FICO score through the Experian app can help you avoid any unpleasant surprises when applying for new financial products.
Best Credit Score Simulator: CreditWise
CreditWise is a credit monitoring tool and credit simulator from Capital One. (You don’t need to be a Capital One account holder to use it.)
When you’re planning your finances, it’s helpful to see how certain spending decisions could affect your credit score in the future. This is where a credit simulator comes in handy. CreditWise will show you how your credit score would likely change if you were to make certain financial decisions.
The platform also makes it easy to access your credit report and receive credit alerts.
CreditWise Key Features
- Detailed credit report. CreditWise gives you access to your Vantage 3.0 scores from TransUnion and Experian. You’ll be able to see all of your open credit accounts as well as inquiries or other items that could affect your credit score.
- CreditWise simulator. With the CreditWise simulator, you can plan for your financial future and see how your actions will affect your credit score. The tool makes it easy to test out a wide variety of scenarios. Some of the scenarios available to test include opening or closing a credit account, missing a payment, taking out a mortgage or car loan, and improving your history of on-time payments. The simulator assesses your existing credit report and general credit history patterns to make these predictions.
- Credit and security monitoring. CreditWise sends you notifications about any changes that happen on your credit report, such as new inquiries or delinquency claims on a bill. They also offer optional digital security tracking, which can help protect against identity theft. This feature monitors the dark web for information like your Social Security number, email address and more, so that you can take steps to protect yourself in the event of a security breach. The app itself is also fully encrypted to keep your information secure.
While CreditWise’s features are very similar to many other credit monitoring apps on the market, its comprehensive credit simulator helps it stand out. While the credit simulator may not be 100% accurate, it’s a very helpful tool for anyone trying to plan for their financial future.
Best for Business Credit Scores: Nav
Nav offers credit monitoring and credit building services for businesses, with both free and paid subscriptions available.
Nav App Key Features
- Business credit reports and insights. Nav’s free Business Basic plan gives you access to both business and personal credit reports and gives you insights on how to improve them. Nav can also connect you with credit specialists for more personalized support.
- Business Boost. Nav’s Business Boost plan costs $49.99 per month and uses tradeline reporting to help improve your business’s credit score. Nav reports your monthly payments directly to credit bureaus to establish this. The Business Boost plan also provides helpful identity theft protection and recovery services.
Building a strong credit score for your business can be tricky. You’re essentially starting from scratch when you launch your business, and it takes time to build a positive credit score. However, a good credit score makes a huge difference in the growth trajectory of your business, as it can qualify you for business loans and other important financing opportunities early on.
Using a business credit monitoring tool like Nav helps you understand your credit and plan ahead, and the Business Boost feature can give you a jump start if you need it.
How to Get All Three Major Bureau Credit Reports for Free
If you want to access your credit reports directly from the three major credit bureaus, the easiest way to do so is through AnnualCreditReport.com. This website is authorized by the U.S. government to provide consumers with their credit reports from TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.
To request a credit report, you’ll fill out an online form with identifying information, and then choose the reports you want to access. You can request reports from all of the major credit bureaus or choose a specific one. Then, you’ll need to answer a few detailed questions to verify your identity. From there, the credit bureaus will send you your reports digitally.
There are a few things to be aware of before requesting your reports through this platform. The first is that these credit reports do not actually give you a credit score. Instead, they show your open credit accounts and balances, payment record, inquiries, and other pieces of information relevant to your credit profile. It’s also important to note that the credit bureaus send the reports to you directly, and they may try to up-sell you on other services during the process.
However, if you want an official report directly from each credit bureau rather than going through a bank or other third party, this is one of the easiest ways to get it. These reports can also help you identify any missed payments or inquiries you weren’t aware of or any inaccuracies on your report that need to be disputed.