If you want to be healthy you make sure you keep an eye on your overall health, right? Well, if you want your credit to be healthy you need to keep an eye on your credit score. What’s really great is all three credit bureaus – Equifax, TransUnion and Experian, are making it easier than ever.
The Importance Of Your Credit Score
If you have a good history and a high score you’re going to get great benefits. You’re going to have low-interest loans and much more. In fact, you’re going to have improvements towards everything you want to do in finance.
- Reduced Interest – When you borrow money from anywhere you’re going to pay the most in the form of interest. When it comes to how much your interest costs, it’s usually about your credit score. So if you can raise your credit score you lower your interest.
- Reduced Insurance – Did you know that your credit score can affect your insurance rates? If you have a higher credit score it actually can translate to lower insurance rates of all types.
- Better Credit Cards – The better your credit the more flexibility you will have when it comes to getting new cards and that’s important. You get a better chance of cards you actually want, like rewards cards and cash back.
- Better Benefits – Because you have a good or great credit score you get the chance to really double down on benefits. You can negotiate for better rates, higher limits and a whole lot more. Plus you have a better chance of getting an apartment and a job.
The Difference Between FICO and VantageScore
Both of these types of credit scores are going to come from your credit report. But each one is going to be slightly different. That’s related to how they’re scored and how much they care about different aspects of your behavior.
When it comes to a FICO score you need to have some type of credit for at least six months. That’s the only way you’re going to get a score. But as many as 28 million people don’t have a score with FICO because there’s not enough information. After all, not only do you need to have that credit for six months you need to have used it within six months. If nothing has been updated your FICO score disappears.
On the other hand, a VantageScore only needs a single month of activity. After that, you get a score that looks at everything for the last 24 months. That means even those who don’t use credit often are still going to have a score.
You’ll also see that VantageScore gives you a single score for everything, from car loans to a mortgage. On the other hand, a FICO score has specific scoring for different industries.
Note that if you request a score form any site (even one you pay for) it may not be either of these scores. It could be what’s called an educational score, that most lenders never see. Or it could be a very specific type of score that only certain types of lenders see.
Your Credit Report vs Credit Score
Your credit report is a compilation of your credit history. It’s based on your personal credit and it’s used by a lot of different people. In fact, it can be used by potential employers, credit lenders and even landlords.
The information on this report is what’s used to create your credit score. That credit score is a three-digit number that tells everyone who sees it about your risk. It lets you know what your credit health is as well. The one institution you really need to know when it comes to your score is the Fair Isaac Corporation. They supply the most popular form of your score.
AnnualCreditReport.com: Your Free Credit Report
Each year, (every 12 months) you can get a free report from each of the three credit bureaus. All you have to do is go to AnnualCreditReport.com. You can choose whether you want all the reports at one time or if you want to space them out to get one every few months. If you order from one company on a specific day though you won’t be able to order a new one from that company until a full year has passed.
If you want to request your credit report you can choose to do it online or by phone or even by mail. Note that you can choose to have them delivered throughout the year if that’s the way you prefer.
When you do log on to AnnualCreditReport.com you’ll need to verify your identity. That means you’ll need to answer a few personal questions. You’ll also be asked about your financial history to make sure you’re the person you claim to be.
Once you get a copy of your report and you take a look you want to report any errors. Start by letting the original creditor know. They’re the ones who can make the credit bureaus make changes.
When you make a request for your report you can get it instantly online or wait for mail. A mailed copy could take up to 15 days to be shipped. You should know you’re not going to get your credit score on this report though. Your credit score costs an additional $8.
Where To Find Your Credit Score for Free?
There are many ways to find your credit score for free – here are the best options:
3rd Party Monitoring Sites
- Credit Karma – The most popular of the free credit sites is actually Credit Karma. This one gives you a VantageScore 3.0 and it even gives you income tax preparation for free and credit monitoring. All of these things are great benefits, especially when you pay nothing. That’s why they have over 60 million people using the site over the last 11 years. What you’re going to get is an Equifax and TransUnion credit score that’s updated daily. That lets you monitor everything that’s happening on your credit report.
- Credit Sesame – Here you’ll have lots of free options for your credit information. You can even get financial information about more than just your credit report. What you’re getting here is a TransUnion VantageScore 3.0.
- Quizzle – If you’ve never heard of this one it gives you a new score every three months. It’s based on your TransUnion VantageScore as well. Part of Bankrate, you’re going to have even more bonuses, like free credit monitoring and analysis.
- Credit.com – This system gives you an Experian VantageScore, which is one of the less common ones you’ll get from the free sites. Not only that but you can get expert advice and credit management from here.
- Mint – You may already be using this one to budget but it also provides you with a free credit score. What’s really great is you can link all of your accounts right to this system and it’s free. You can budget your income and monitor your credit all at the same time as well. What’s great is you get an update every month and it happens automatically. You can even see what’s affecting your score and check what it takes to improve it the next time.
- Nerdwallet – If you sign up for NerdWallet you’ll get free access to your TransUnion VantageScore 3.0. You can update every single week and you get free monitoring. You can even sign up for alerts and goals and check out the simulator to see what things can do to your score.
|Company||Score Type||Credit Bureau||Available to|
|Credit Karma||VantageScore® 3.0||TransUnion and Equifax||Anyone|
|Credit Sesame||VantageScore® 3.0||TransUnion||Anyone|
|Quizzle / Bankrate||VantageScore® 3.0||TransUnion||Anyone|
Credit Companies – Free for All
- Discover – This service is actually going to give you a totally free FICO score. You don’t even need to be a customer of the company (though they will try to make you one). For anyone who wants only their credit score and not all those extra features this is the way to go. They don’t provide credit monitoring or theft protection or anything else, but they do have the official score.
- Capital One – You don’t need to be a customer at all, though you’re going to have an easier time signing up if you are. Once you do sign up you get a TransUnion VantageScore 3.0. Not only that but you get credit monitoring and emails if there’s ever any kind of suspicious activity. Even better, it lets you update your score every single week.
- Chase – If you use their system, Credit Journey, you can get a TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 every week. All you have to do is log in. Plus, you can use the simulator to find out what would happen if you do different things with your credit.
|Company||Score Type||Credit Bureau||Available to|
|Capital One||VantageScore® 3.0||TransUnion||Anyone|
|Chase (credit journey)||VantageScore® 3.0||TransUnion||Anyone|
Credit Companies – Free For Customers
Any credit card company is going to keep an accurate score for you, so why wouldn’t they share it? In recent months, credit issuers have started to do just that. They’re sharing their internal information, in the form of your credit score, with you. Completely free, they’re actually purchased by the institution at a commercial rate and for commercial use.
- American Express – For those who have one of the higher level American Express cards, your FICO Score 8 is available and based on your Experian score. These cards include Platinum, Premier Rewards Gold and Starwood Preferred Guest cards.
- Chase – If you have the Chase Slate card you can get our FICO Score 8, which is based on the Experian credit score.
- Bank of America – This one gives FICO Score 8 results, based on TransUnion, to just about every cardholder.
- Wells Fargo – If you have any kind of credit with this company you get the FICO Score 9, though Score 8 is still the more common.
- Barclaycard – Just about any cardholder gets access to FICO Score 8, which is based on TransUnion.
- Citi – Anyone with a Citi card will get their FICO Bankcard Score 8 based on Equifax. This is a unique version of the FICO that goes up to 900.
- USAA – Finally, all USAA members can take a look at their Experian VantageScore.
|Company||Score Type||Credit Bureau||Available to|
|American Express||VantageScore® 3.0||TransUnion||Cardholders|
|Chase (slate)||FICO Score 8||Experian||Cardholders|
|Bank of America||FICO Score 8||TransUnion||Cardholders|
|Wells Fargo||FICO Score 9||Experian||Cardholders|
|Barclaycard||FICO Score 8||TransUnion||Cardholders|
|Citi||FICO Score 8||Equifax||Cardholders|
Access Through Your Bank
Banks are now starting to jump on the bandwagon. They’re starting to look at credit score monitoring and offering it to customers. They’re also doing this free of charge.
First National Bank is one of the options. They let you see your FICO score 24/7 through their online portal and they let you know what factors are most important on your report. The Barclaycard US also gives you your credit score and follows it up with some of the factors that are responsible for you getting that score. Not to mention it gives you email alerts and a historical chart.
Like we mentioned, with CreditWise from Capital One or Credit Journey from Chase, you get free access to check out your score.
For those who aren’t quite sure if they can get this type of service form their bank, just contact them. Check the online account and talk to someone. You’ll be able to find out if this plan is currently available or if it’s going to be available soon.