Having a good credit score and report plays an essential role in your financial life, particularly when there are so many businesses which heavily depend on these factors to approve your requests. This means there will be many benefits when you have a strong credit health such as lower interest rates or easier access to loans. On the other hand, a poor credit score would make it challenging to finance your new house, car, or college debt.
Therefore, it is essential to check your credit score frequently so that you can spend money wisely. In this guide, you will show you some common ways to check credit scores and recommend a few credit monitoring services to help you build your credit health.
What is a Credit Score?
A credit score is basically a three-digit number which sums up the data in a credit report. It often ranges from 300 to 850 and is commonly used by lenders to determine your creditworthiness or credit health. Many factors are included to calculate a credit score such as your history of loan payment or credit card balance.
Many people often think that each person is only assigned a credit score which all lenders and credit bureaus access, but this isn’t actually true. Most have multiple scores which are slightly different as there are different credit bureaus, scoring methodologies, and updated credit information at different times. In fact, there are a lot of scoring models, but the most popular are the VantageScore and FICO Score.
How to Check Your Credit Score
It is much easier now than ever before to track and get your credit score for free. In general, there are four common ways to do this:
– Credit card lenders or issuers
Many credit card issuers often provide a complimentary credit score which can be checked easily by logging in your online account online. In general, you need to opt-in to get the number.
Also, a few companies like Barclay or Discover it are participating in a FICO program which enables cardholders to check their FICO credit scores for free. If you are using their service, you only need to see your monthly statement to view the recent credit score.
– Free credit score sites
There are many online sites which offer credit scores completely free, without subscriptions. These include Quizzle, CreditSesame, and CreditKarma. Their primary goal is to provide educational scores which aim to offer you a good understanding of your credit health instead of the actual scores used by lenders.
Make sure to pay special attention to their terms and conditions before signing up as some sites might require you to enter your credit card number. This means you are enrolling in their trial subscriptions and the company would start charging if you do not cancel it when the trial ends.
– Purchase credit scores from reporting agencies
If you want to have the most accurate credit score, it is advisable to buy it from a recognizable credit reporting agency such as TransUnion, Equifax, Experian or Privacy Guard. Also, you might have access to your credit score checking over time, data about the important factors on the credit report which affect your credit health, and credit alerts when you change something in the credit file.
– Non-profit credit counselors
Another way to check for your credit score is to visit a credit counselor. He or she could get your information and tell you all the necessary details. To search one, you can visit the official site of NFCC or National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
Top 3 Best Credit Monitoring Services
As your credit health has a significant impact on your financial life, it is a good idea to use a credit monitoring service which allows you to keep a close eye on your credit score and report. Whenever you spend too much or your credit health gets worse, they will give you’re an early warning for proper changes. Here are top 3 best credit monitoring services that you should consider:
- Credit Karma
Credit Karma is one of the most popular credit monitoring services available. There is no trial subscription and you don’t need to provide your card number. This site allows its users to monitor their Equifax and TransUnion credit report at no fee.
Every time you log into your online account, the VantageScore will be updated automatically. Your information on the credit report is also updated on a weekly basis. In addition, you can be alerted when unusual activities are suspected.
As a major credit scoring bureaus, Experian provides IdentityWorks monitoring service to help their clients monitor all of three credit reports. Apart from monitoring your credit scores and 3 credit reports for changes which indicate identity theft, it also offers a couple of other identity and credit monitoring services.
Experian can scan the dark sites to protect your personal data against hackers, notify you when there are any sex offenders in your neighborhood, identify when a crime is booked in your own name, detect when there are payday loans in your name, alert a change of your address in the Postal Service, and much more.
The monthly plan starts at $9.99 for adults, $14.99 for 1 adult and 10 children, or $19.99 for 2 adults and 10 children. This plan includes a 30-day trial subscription, then you can choose to keep or cancel the service.
FICO credit score is the most popular option that that many lenders often use to make their decisions. With myFICO, you will have a quick access to your 3-bureau credit report as well as 28 different versions of your score which can be used in credit card and auto lending or mortgage.
Your credit scores and reports are updated every quarter to keep you informed at all times. Also, you will be alerted for changes to all credit information such as a newly opened account, new public records, new inquiries, new collections, new addresses, and recent changes to the account balance.
The subscription for myFICO starts at $29.95 each month or $329 each year. You would cancel the subscription at any time.