Many Americans are aware that, under U.S. law, they are entitled to receive a free copy of their credit report from each of the top three credit reporting agencies on an annual basis. Now, you can learn how to also receive your credit score, which isn't covered by the law, free of charge as well.

Your credit score, or FICO, is a three-digit number that indicates your creditworthiness and basically acts as a numerical summation of your credit report. While the report can be many pages long and gives a detailed and specific history of creditors, loans, payments and other financial information, your credit score is just one specific number that can quickly indicate your creditworthiness to a lender or creditor. It not only helps determine whether or not you'll receive that coveted loan but the interest rate you'll pay on it as well.

Many banks are now providing credit scores to their customers free of charge, either on their statements or by request. Citi, Chase and Wells Fargo are among the banks recently instituting programs to provide some or all of their customers' access to their credit scores.

You can also access your credit score online absolutely free, thanks to several websites, which are offering the service in order to sell financial products to those who apply. CreditKarma.com, CreditSesame.com and Credit.com are all legitimate websites that you can visit to get your credit score for free without entering any credit card or payment information, although you will have to answer various questions and provide your email address.

Beware of other, less scrupulous sites that purportedly offer your credit score for free or a nominal charge of $1 but are really trying to sell you unnecessary credit monitoring services, which can cost up to $30 monthly. The sites promise a free trial of their service when you request your score, require that you enter your credit card information and then bill you unless you contact them to cancel within several days, which many people intend to do but forget, obligating them to pay at least one monthly charge.

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