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My credit score is a FICO score…and it should be yours, too

Four capital letters stand for your most accurate credit score.

While I was on the phone with the owner of a company I’m vetting as a Wise Choice, he asked me, “By the way…got any suggestions on how to get my most accurate credit score?”

Four letters:  FICO.

The credit industry has long recognized FICO, or the Fair Isaac Corporation, as the standard for accurate credit scores. FICO designed the credit score’s three-digit formula and its typical range (300 to 850). A FICO score is also based on data from the very custodians of our credit reports: the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). FICO is also the measure of choice for determining accurate business credit scores ( published an excellent blog on establishing business credit).

You can always obtain an accurate credit score directly through the credit bureaus, but just as you will through FICO’s website, you will typically have to pay a fee for that score.

Some credit card companies offer a free credit score as a card feature. That’s fine, but be aware that score will be an estimate, not the accurate score you can expect from FICO or from the credit bureaus.

Estimating your credit score is a good idea, though, especially if you’re considering applying for a loan or line of credit, and you want to see if you’re somewhere in the ballpark for qualifying before you pay for your credit score. FICO comes through there, too, with a free credit score estimator that can give you an idea before you buy.

There are other online credit score estimators and calculators, but I’m no longer comfortable recommending them. Some that I used to recommend now require some sort of a commitment, like purchasing your credit report through their companies in order to get a “free” score estimate. You’re entitled to one free credit report every year from each of the three credit bureaus, and you should only get your credit reports through

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