Checking your free credit score is one of the most important things you can do. It helps you keep track of your current and past credit records which are a major factor when applying for loans and, sometimes, jobs.
According to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, there are a few ways that you can check your credit score but the thing you need to remember most is that you need to know your individual credit score for Experian, Transunion and Equifax. You may also want to consider obtaining your FICO score (a combination of all three reporting agencies) as this is what most lenders look at during consideration for a loan.
Check Your Credit Card Statements
Most credit cards offer a free monthly credit score as a perk for doing business with them. It can vary from company to company and even card to card. If your current credit card doesn’t offer this service to you, ask them if they have any programs or services that allow you to obtain your monthly credit score. This may not be an option for some companies, so you may want to consider switching to a credit card that does offer this benefit.
Some loan statements even come with your credit score printed on them. See if your lender does this because many of them now do because it’s becoming a popular option with their competitors. Check your next statement or call your lender to see if this service is available for you loan.
Non-Profit Credit Counselor
If you’re currently working with or considering using a non-profit credit counseling agency to get your finances back on track, there’s a good chance that your credit counselor has access to your credit score. Most of the time, they can also provide you with a free copy of your credit report along with your score so you can see exactly why your score is the number that it is and help you improve them.
A Credit Score Service
Some credit websites will offer a free credit score when you use their services. This may be that they pay the fee on your behalf through their advertisers or they may use another means to offer you the benefit of obtaining your free credit score.
There are also some credit monitoring programs that will help protect you against fraud and identity theft that includes a free credit score with your monthly subscription to their service. This is a good thing to have, especially if you’ve recently lost your wallet or purse, or if your information has been compromised in a security breach (which seems to happen a lot in today’s world).
If you find your credit score needs work, there are a couple of things you should do. The first is check the accuracy of the report. If you find errors, it is imperative that you dispute them immediately and get them removed from your report. USA.gov offers a free sample letter that you can utilize to begin this process.
Sometimes everything on your credit report is accurate, but your score is low. This may be due to having too much debt on your credit report (large loan balances or utilizing more than 30% of your available credit) or you may have past-due judgments against you. Consider paying off some of your debts, even if they’re past-due and ask the credit to delete the negative information (it’s called a “pay to delete”). Many times, creditors are more than happy to do this.
After paying some of your debts down, you may want to re-check your credit score in a few months to see if and how much it improved. Some services such as CreditKarma update your credit score often so you can see it improve in real-time instead of waiting months for other reports to catch up.