Credit Score 102: How Do I Check My Credit Score?
February 20, 2014
Credit Score 101 explained why building a good credit score is so important to us. This post will tell you where and how to get your credit score.
To check your credit score, you need to obtain a credit report. Most companies allow you to purchase reports that will include your credit score. However, there are some ways you can get them for free or nearly free, especially for the first time user. (Although some argue that it is essentially not “free”, such as the WSJ article Credit Scores: Can You Get Them Free?)
According to WikiHow, there are four methods that we can use to get our credit reports:
Method 1: Annual Free Credit Report
Because of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, everyone is entitled to one free credit report per year. Once you visit AnnualCreditReport.com, select your state and enter in any prompted personal questions. “This information will include information about your name, address, previous address, and social security number. To the best of your ability, be as accurate as possible,” according to WikiHow. What’s more, prepare yourself for a series of questions related to your finances, such as your credit card information, personal information, or any mortgages or loans information. Because credit reports contain private information about your history, your identity is taken very seriously. Once you get your credit reports, go over each one carefully. Because you are only allowed one free credit report per year, and you often can’t go back and access credit reports at a later date, it’d be better for you to print out your credit report. If you happened to see transactions that are inaccurate, contact the credit bureau to dispute it.
Method 2: FICO
FICO, or the Fair Issac Corporation, develops and maintains the FICO score that many lenders use, and therefore it is the gold standard of credit scores. Be prepared to sign up in order to get your credit score when you go to MyFico.com. “MyFICO lets users access a utility called Score Watch, which tracks their credit score. Users may get a 10-day free trial before having to pay to keep track of their credit score,” according to WikiHow.
Method 3: Contacting the Credit Bureaus Directly
Another good way to get your credit score is to purchase a complete credit report directly from any one of the three major U.S. credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Again, you will need to provide your personal identification information in order to get access to your credit score.
Method 4: Taking Advantage of Credit Monitoring Services
Credit monitoring services allow people to monitor all activity on their credit reports over the course of a month. They usually charge a monthly fee and provide you with an estimate of your credit score. Examples of such services are CreditKarma.com, IdentityGuard.com, LifeLock.com, CreditReport123, TrustedID, PrivacyGuard.com, IdentityLookout.com, MyScore.com, and TransUnion Credit Monitoring. Some of them even have smartphone apps.
Here is my personal experience with checking my credit score–and it only costs me $1! Basically, I visited CreditReport.com, an Experian Company, and enrolled in its 7-day trial ($1 charge), which gave me an access to all 3-bureau credit monitoring and protection alerts when my credit history changes. Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion are the three bureaus where people can get their credit reports. The cost of membership is $19.95 per month following the trial period. $1 charge for credit report only includes Experian’s credit report. Since our credit scores provided by those three bureaus are very much the same, we do not necessarily need reports from all of them. Once you find your score and you feel like you don’t need further services, you can call its customer service number within seven days and get your subscription cancelled.
Again, make sure you are obtaining and checking your FREE credit report every year to make sure there are no inaccuracies. If you decide to check your credit score, you will have to pay for it (but it will be realitively inexpensive if you use a trial subscription and then cancel it).
For more info, check out this past blog post.
–Yuchen Wu, Student Blogger
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