Your credit score indicates your creditworthiness. It’s a number that tells creditors your level of risk. Many businesses, including insurance companies, phone companies, credit cards, and loan and mortgage providers, review your credit score when determining if they should issue you a policy, loan, or service—along with the rates and terms you’re eligible for.
The higher your number, the less risky you are, meaning you have a better chance of receiving approval. Your credit score is one of the three key factors that determine your overall financial health. That’s why it’s important that you always have a general idea of what your credit score is. But how do you check your credit score?
Checking your credit score isn’t as challenging as it may seem, and once you know how, the process becomes faster and easier each time. Several methods are available for checking your credit. Review the options below to determine which one makes the most sense for you.
In this chapter, we’ll be going over how to check your credit score, why checking your credit score is important, and more. Continue reading or use the links below to learn how to check your credit score for free.
In the previous chapters in our credit series, we went over what a credit score is, the importance of credit scores, factors that impact your credit score, and more. You should now have a much better understanding of what a good credit score is and how to increase your credit score if needed. If you need a refresher, go back and read these chapters first.
When you apply for a credit card or loan, the lender pulls your credit information to determine if they’ll approve you. These entities will provide you with your credit score or you can ask them to send you a copy.
Receiving your credit score from an entity you’re already working with can save you time and money. But if you’re not planning to apply for a credit card, loan, or other new line of credit in the near future, it may be best to choose a different method for checking your credit score.
Step 2: Use a Free Service
A range of services are available that allow you to check your credit score for free. No matter which service you choose to use, follow the steps listed on the website to receive your free credit score. Be sure to read the fine print before entering your credit card or payment information.
You can also get a free credit report once a year, which is a more detailed overview of your credit history.
Step 3: Purchase Your Scores
In addition to the free services, you can also receive your scores through one of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax or TransUnion) or an outside entity. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, credit reporting companies cannot charge more than $13.50 per credit check.
Some people choose this option because they like what a particular report offers or because a free method isn’t currently available to them. Many free services offer a variety of valuable information, so do your research before determining which option is best for you!
What to Know When You Check Your Credit Score
While you might be tempted to remove a closed account from your credit report, it’s not always the best idea as it could lower your credit score. But if the account has negative information, it could help your score. It really differs for each person’s financial situation, but just make sure to do some research before removing a closed account from your report.
Most Negative Information Ages Off After About 7 Years
While a late payment or unpaid bill stays on your report for a while, credit reporting doesn’t occur for longer than seven years from when the original debt was charged off. Exceptions to this rule include defaulted student loans and bankruptcy.
It’s Important to Check Your Credit Score
. For example, a credit card company might require a score of 720 or above to be approved, or a mortgage company may require a credit score within a particular range to lock in a certain interest rate. By knowing your score, you’ll have a better understanding of which financial products and terms you might be eligible for.
Alert Yourself of Potential Fraudulent Activity
Pulling your credit score won’t give you direct information regarding fraudulent activity, but it could be a clue that fraudulent activity has occurred. If you think your credit score is suspicious, be sure to pull your credit report or sign up for credit monitoring.
Key Takeaways: How to Check Your Credit Score
Several methods are available for checking your credit:
Check your credit card
Use a free service
Purchase your scores
See a nonprofit credit counselor
You can have multiple credit scores because not all credit bureaus and credit reporting entities utilize the same scoring system.
It’s more important to focus on the range your score falls in, rather than your exact number.
There are plenty of methods for raising your credit score.
Understanding and monitoring your credit score allows you to be in tune with your financial health and make adjustments as needed.
Empower Yourself with Credit Knowledge
Knowing how to check your credit score gives you instant access to your financial standing and helps you better understand what improvements you might like to make to your private life. Regularly checking your credit score and identifying areas for improvement is key to maintaining a strong financial life. To get started, get your free credit score in the Mint app and spend some time assessing your financial goals.
So we’ve discussed how to get your credit score and why checking your credit score is important, but what do you do when there’s a mistake with your credit? In the next and final chapter, we’ll take you through the steps of what to do if you find an error in your credit report.
Sources: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau | Federal Trade Commission 1, 2, 3, 4
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