A credit score is an important tool available to you when it comes to managing your financial future. The credit score is a number that the credit bureaus create to provide information to lenders about your past credit usage. The better your credit score is the lower of a risk you are to those lenders. Getting a high credit score takes hard work and monitoring it can help you to know where it is, where it is going as well as ways to improve it.
Checking Your Credit Score
To check your credit score, you will need to visit one of the three credit bureau’s websites and request it. This is not a free service. You can obtain a credit report free from each of the credit bureaus every 12 months, though. To do that, you will need to visit the AnnualCreditReport.com website to obtain it. The individual bureaus do allow consumers to access their score, though, if you pay for a monitoring service or another feature offered.
It is a good idea to check your score. You should know where you stand at any given time. Here are some things to keep in mind, though.
- Always check your score, if you do, through the credit bureaus themselves. Do not attempt to do this through any third party provider (such as asking a company to run a credit check on you.) That will create an inquiry on the report, which reduces your credit score. Note from the Jason: I recently received three free scores from freecreditscore.com. I understood it to be a soft pull to get your scores which doesn’t impact your report. However, use caution whenever using a third party service as mentioned in this tip.
- Scores only update one time every month for the previous month’s activity. When this occurs is not the same for each person, but it is a good idea to check just one time per month around the same time.
- Do check your credit report as well as your score. You can do this one time every four months, (one time every year) from one of the credit bureaus. This gives you a clear indication of what is on your report, which means that you can see if you are trending up or down.
Your credit report will also provide you with information about how to improve your credit history. Use this information to help guide you to make better financial decisions moving forward. Then, check your credit score every few months at least to see if you are making progress in improving it.
Most people do not need to have access to a credit score unless they are planning to make a big investment at some time in the near future, such as purchasing a home. However, it is up to you to decide if you want to have this information. If so, it may be less expensive to sign up for a monthly credit monitoring service that will allow you to monitor your score whenever you want to. It is a good idea to at least get your score one time per year to know where you stand. It is also a good idea to keep a close eye on your credit report, since that indicates what your score will be.
This is a post from George Gallagher who is a personal finance and education blogger. He is currently helping students in New York find New York student loans.