It's a frustrating situation: You can check out your credit report for free (at annualcreditreport.com), but that resource doesn't give you the one piece of information that's arguably the most important part of the equation: your actual credit score.
Your credit score is vital for everything from getting the best rate on your mortgage to sometimes even getting a job, so not having access to it -- even if you can see your credit report -- deprives you of a very important piece of information for your financial future.
A new amendment to the financial reform bill making its way through Congress would change that. Proposed by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Co.) and voted on by the Senate, the amendment would require you to receive your credit score if you were denied a loan or a job as a result of it. Currently, as the New York Times points out, it could run you close to $50 to obtain your score from each of the three credit bureaus.
"The credit score piece is important because when you get your credit report, it's a pretty limited thing you're getting," David Arkush, director of Congress Watch division for advocacy group Public Citizen, told Walletpop.
Ideally, Americans will get the most benefit from seeing their credit report and their score together, so they can figure out how their actions impact the number. "If people can find out their scores, they can figure out more about the implications of the things that are on the report," Arkush says.
Unfortunately, unless you lose out on a loan or a job, you'd still have to fork over to get that number from the bureaus. "The next step should be that every consumer gets access annually to the real credit score for free, just as everyone can get free annual credit reports now," Jean Ann Fox, director of financial services for the Consumer Federation of America, tells Walletpop.
Until that discrepancy is rectified, we've been using the site creditkarma.com. You do have to enter your Social Security number (although the site says they just use it to process your request and doesn't store it anywhere), and they do pitch the option to receive marketing solicitations from their various business partners, but it is a free credit score. (And we just chose "no" when asked if we wanted to receive ads, and we're happy to report that there's no spam in our inbox so far.)
If Udall's proposal sounds like a good idea to you, let your local elected officials know that you support it. This amendment is still in jeopardy of being cut out as Congress hashes out the final details of financial reform legislation, so if you want access to your credit score, speak up.
Free look at credit score if denied loan or job under Senate plan