Knowing and understanding your credit score can help you make better financial choices. A higher score can give you the confidence to apply for further lines of credit, while a lower score may make you more cautious. While you do not have to check your credit score constantly, it's smart to check in every month or so to monitor any changes and areas for potential improvement.
Credit Score or Credit Report?
Your credit score is a number calculated to inform creditors of your financial health based on the contents of your credit report. Your credit report is a full accounting of your finances including accounts, payment history, delinquencies, inquiries, bankruptcy reports, or other financial activity. All of the activity contained in your credit report is combined to calculate your credit score. You can check your credit report for free through one of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Each agency will give you one copy of your full credit report at no cost once every 12 months. Unfortunately, you'll have to pay to find out your actual score via the credit bureaus. Thankfully there are plenty of free credit score services. Here are the top sites for monitoring your credit score.
When you sign up on creditkarma.com, you will have access to free credit scores and reports from both TransUnion and Equifax. Scores and reports are updated weekly and based on the VantageScore 3.0 credit model. This scoring model is supposed to provide a more accurate view of individual credit than FICO scores. You will also receive free credit monitoring for your TransUnion report, free credit factor analysis, and a free credit score simulator. All of these services can help you better protect your score and make sure you are making the best choices for your financial health.
Creditsesame.com gives you access to your TransUnion credit score and also offers personalized financial tips based on your profile and personal goals. This credit monitoring service will compile all of your credit information into one profile through which it will make suggestions and offer tips to save money. Additionally, they offer advice on how to lower payments and identity theft services. Also: Credit Sesame users can get up to $50,000 in fraud resolution help for free.
Credit.com provides two free credit scores once a month. You will get your Experian score as well as your VantageScore 3.0. They also offer a free "credit report card" to help you evaluate the financial information that makes up your credit score and provides tips for improving your score.
This credit monitoring service is the best for offering credit alerts. All of your accounts will appear on your WalletHub dashboard along with balances and any negative marks. The site will warn you if your debt is too high compared to your income or if your score drops. WalletHub also offers an easy to read breakdown of the factors that make up your credit score, like credit history and credit utilization ratio.
Many credit card companies also offer free credit score and credit tracking services. Signing up for one or a few of these services can help you make the best choices for your financial future. Having good credit can open a lot of financial doors that may be closed to you otherwise—like buying a house, a car, or taking out another substantial loan. If you are concerned about your credit score, Veitengruber Law can help demystify the credit industry and turn your score around.