However, lenders have another option that doesn't include the disclosure of the applicant's score. The alternative is to provide a letter stating the borrower was given a less-than-favorable rate because of his or her credit risk. This notice must also disclose which credit bureau provided information to the lender.
But on July 21, another regulation will shut that loophole. That's when lenders will no longer have a choice of the type of notice they provide. If a credit score is used to deny a loan or give unfavorable terms, the lender must disclose that score to the consumer.
The requirement was part of the financial overhaul known as the Dodd-Frank Act last year.
Keep in mind that the new rules don't guarantee everyone a copy of their credit score.
"The rules affect people who've either been denied credit or applied for credit," said Tom Quinn, credit scoring expert at Credit.com.
So consumers who aren't actively seeking a loan — but want to keep tabs on their credit — still need to be careful when shopping for a credit score.
Experian's homepage, for example, features the eye-catching deal of a credit score for just $1. But read the fine print, and it turns out the offer is a teaser for a subscription that costs $14.95 a month unless it's canceled within a week. Experian also runs the catchy TV ads for its FreeCreditScore.com, which offers a similar "free" deal.
All three credit bureaus sell a report and score package for a one-time cost of about $15. But you need to click around a bit on the sites to find the option.