Anyone interested in making a large purchase or in keeping abreast on his financial situation should be aware of his credit score. Your credit score is a three digit number that indicates to lenders how financially responsible you are. A good credit score can help you to qualify for the best loan products and can ensure that you are actually able to get credit when you need it, not only in the form of a credit card but also in the form of a mortgage or a car loan. A bad credit score, on the other hand, can disqualify you from being able to borrow when necessary or can make borrowing very expensive.
Because mistakes can be made and because your credit score can change dramatically over time depending on whether your borrowing behavior is bad or good, it is important to monitor your score to see where your numbers are. Taking a look at your credit report on which your score is based is also important not only to see your current accounts and what is being reported, but also to make sure that no one is opening any unauthorized accounts in your name and that no mistakes find their way onto your report
Your Free Credit Report
Every individual is entitled to receive a free copy of his credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus each year. This means you can get three reports total: one from Experian, one from Equifax and one from TransUnion. These reports are available at Annual Credit Report.com, which is not to be confused with other sites with similar names that are actually pay services that offer you a free score only when you sign up for membership.
At the Annual Credit Report.com, you will need to select your state and which credit bureau you would like to obtain your report from. You will then need to input personal identifying information including your social security number, and answer some questions to verify your identity. You will be given an opportunity to choose which of the three major bureaus you want your report to come from, but you can only obtain one report from each of the bureaus for free each year.
In order to monitor your credit using these free reports and without paying a monthly monitoring fee, it is best to order one report every four months from each of the bureaus. That way, you will see your report at three different times throughout the year and can keep an eye on any mistakes or problems that might develop.
Getting Your Credit Score For Free
While Annual Credit Report provides you with your credit report, it does not provide you with a free credit score unless you pay an additional fee. There’s no need to pay this fee, however, as there are several sites online that do allow you to access your credit score at no cost. While these scores may not be the exact same as the official scores you get from the credit bureaus, they are close. They also reflect when changes occurring, allowing you to see if your score is improving or if there are any problems that occur that cause your score to go down.
Two websites who provide this service include Credit Sesame and Credit Karma. Each allows you to sign up and access your score for free with no membership fees, no need to cancel your account and no requirement that you provide credit card information. You will, of course have to provide your social security number and identifying information in order to access your score. However, your information is solely used to obtain your score details and you will not be charged at any point.
While Credit Sesame and Credit Karma give you information on your score and some basic information on your credit (as well as on how your credit compares to others), neither gives you a full report. As such, by using these services in conjunction with Annual Credit Report.com, you can achieve comprehensive monitoring of your credit at no cost to you.