BOSTON (CBS) – Credit scores are a quick and easy method for a creditor to judge you as a potential customer.

Your Fico credit score is the gold standard here. Most creditors use this score to make a judgment on your ability to pay back a loan or pay your bills on time.

My Fico will sell you copies of your credit scores for $19.95 each and they have good information on their website on how to improve your score.

The three credit reporting agencies, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian, can offer you their version of a credit score, the Vantagescore. Their grading system is now similar to the FICO score.

If you are planning on making a major purchase such as house, a car loan, or applying for a new job, get copies of your FICO score.

If your score is a curiosity factor then look for a free score. There are places online that will give you a free credit score. But it’s usually not your Fico score. Try Credit Karma or credit sesame, neither will require a credit card.

My Credit Karma score was 800 and Myfico score was 779. Not much of a difference.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has strongly suggested that credit card companies provide free credit scores to their customers, a move they believe would help millions of people monitor their financial status.

And some credit cards are now offering your FICO credit scores free. The Discover card, Barclaycard, Capital One, Citibank and more companies are planning to offer this perk to their card holders.

Credit scores are important for a lender looks at the score and will determine by that score what interest rate you will be charged for your mortgage or credit card.

Insurance companies look at the score and determine if you are a good risk or if they should charge you higher rates. A landlord will look at the score to see if you pay your bills on time.

One more thing: The higher your score the lower your interest rate will be when you apply for a mortgage. The difference between a good score and a poor one with a $300,000 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage could be a savings of over $3,000 a year in interest.

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You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.

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