As if you did not have enough to worry about, now you have to worry about maintaining good credit scores with the three major credit reporting agencies -- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. It is important to stay on top of your credit scores when you want to apply for a loan or mortgage or new credit card or to protect your identity. The government's annual credit report site only gives you free credit reports. If you want your credit scores you have to pay for them with the government. However you can still get absolutely free credit scores online.
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Why is it important to check your 3 credit scores?
You need to know where you stand before you apply for a loan for a home or a car to make sure the information in your credit file is accurate see you can get the lowest interest rates you qualify for. If you find that your credit score is too low to get a good APR then you can take the necessary steps to increase your score over a 6 to 12 month period and then check again to see how your scores have improved.
You may not be in the market for a new home at this moment but you should be aware of how good your credit is because the higher your number is the more you'll save each month on your mortgage payment. And this can add up to some serious money. We're talking a couple hundred bucks a month over 30 year period can be a $100,000 or more over the life of the loan.
Not all credit scores are the same.
The three major credit reporting agencies use different formulas to calculate your scores. They do not all have the same information about your credit history which can also account for a different result.
For example, let's say you have five different credit card accounts - Bank of America, Discover Card, American Express, Capital One, and USAA bank - but Experian only has your account history for Bank of America, American Express, and USAA bank while Trans Union only has your account history from Discover Card, American Express, Capital One, and Bank of America while Equifax only has your account history from Bank of America, Discover Card and American Express.
Not all credit card companies report to all three credit bureaus so this is why it is important to get all 3 credit scores. You can check your credit scores online instantly absolutely free with no obligation.
Not only should you get copies of your free credit reports from annualcreditreport.com but you should also get copies of your credit scores from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Doing so will let you know what your lenders see when they check your credit and decide to approve you for a loan or not or to give you a low interest rates or high interest rate on your new home mortgage or credit card.
Checking your credit scores does not put a hard inquiry on your file. It will not lower your scores.
So what's the catch?
When you sign up to get your absolutely free credit scores you are starting a free trial period of a highly rated credit monitoring service (Better
Business Bureau A+ Rating) which includes identity theft protection and will monitor your credit daily for you and alerts you to any changes in your file with all 3 credit bureaus. You can check your scores and cancel anytime within the 30 day free trial period.
You can protect your personal information whenever you shop or bank online. That's one less thing to worry about.
What do you do once you get access to your scores? Your credit scores will range from 300 to 850, 850 being the highest - a perfect credit score, while 300 is the lowest credit score you can have. A good credit score is 700 and higher and this should be your goal. You should aim for a credit score higher than 700. The average credit score is around 680 but this will not qualify you for the lowest interest rates.
You need to know what your credit scores are because creditors, lenders, insurers, employers, courts, landlords, cell phone companies, and utility companies are all checking your information legally and deciding to do business with you or not or to require a security deposit from you when you want to do business with them.