After it was founded in 2011, the federal agency pushed major credit card companies to allow consumers free and regular access to their credit scores.The bureau argued that consumers who know their credit scores are more likely to monitor their credit reports and therefore more likely to spot errors on their credit reports.A high credit score is your ticket to discounts in borrowing and insurance, including auto policies and home policies.

You should request your report from all three companies, as your credit report compiled by Experian may differ from the one compiled by Trans Union, for example.

For step-by-step directions, see “How to Get Your Free Credit Report in 6 Easy Steps.”It’s smart to keep an eye on credit reports, too, since they reveal what merchants and lenders are telling each other about you.

Looking at your credit score does not affect your credit, by the way.

Discover Bank offers a free FICO score to anyone via its Credit Scorecard program, which you can sign up for online.

You can also visit Money Talks News’ Solutions Center if you need help with debt, including credit card debt.

Plenty of other sites offer free credit scores, just not FICO scores.Indeed, knowing and monitoring your credit score and credit reports can afford you more control over your financial life.Credit scores are meant to help predict the risk of lending to you.Monitoring your credit reports also lets you keep an eye out for errors and signs of identity theft.Still, credit reports don’t include your credit score. Typical FICO scores range from 300 to a perfect 850.If you go through FICO for your score, it will cost you.