Your credit score is a number that reflects your creditworthiness and how likely you are to repay your debts. It can affect your ability to get loans, credit cards, mortgages, and other financial products. A higher credit score can help you qualify for better interest rates and terms, saving you money in the long run.
There are different types of credit scores, but one of the most widely used is the FICO Score, which ranges from 300 to 850. The FICO Score is calculated based on information from your credit reports, which are maintained by three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Each bureau collects data from your creditors, such as your payment history, balances, credit limits, and account types.
By law, you can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three bureaus once every 12 months through AnnualCreditReport.com. However, this does not include your credit score. To get your free credit score, you have a few options:
Purchase credit scores directly from one of the three major credit bureaus or other provider, such as FICO. This may cost you a fee, depending on the service and frequency you choose[^4^].
Use a credit score service or free credit scoring site. Some sites provide a free credit score to users. Others may provide credit scores to credit monitoring customers paying a monthly subscription fee[^4^]. Be careful to read the terms and conditions before signing up for any service, as some may require you to enter your credit card information and charge you after a trial period.
Check with your credit card issuer or bank. Many card issuers and financial institutions provide their customers with free access to their FICO Score or VantageScore, another type of credit score. You can usually view your score online or on your mobile app[^3^].
Whichever option you choose, make sure you check your credit score regularly and review it for accuracy. If you find any errors or discrepancies, you can dispute them with the credit bureau or the source of the information. Improving your credit score can take time and effort, but it can pay off in the long run.
How to Improve Your Credit Score
Your credit score is not fixed and can change over time based on your credit behavior. There are some factors that can help you improve your credit score, such as:
Paying your bills on time and in full. Your payment history is the most important factor in your credit score, accounting for 35% of it. Late or missed payments can hurt your score and stay on your credit report for up to seven years.
Keeping your credit utilization low. Your credit utilization is the percentage of your available credit that you are using. It accounts for 30% of your credit score. A high credit utilization can indicate that you are overextended and may have trouble paying back your debts. A good rule of thumb is to keep your credit utilization below 30%.
Having a mix of different types of credit. Your credit mix is the diversity of your credit accounts, such as credit cards, loans, mortgages, and so on. It accounts for 10% of your credit score. Having a variety of credit can show that you can handle different types of debt responsibly.
Avoiding applying for too many new accounts in a short period of time. Every time you apply for a new credit account, the lender will perform a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can lower your score by a few points. Hard inquiries stay on your report for two years, but only affect your score for one year. Too many hard inquiries in a short period of time can signal that you are desperate for credit or a riskier borrower.
How to Check Your Credit Score for Free
As mentioned earlier, there are several ways to get your free credit score. Here are some of the most popular ones:
Experian: You can get your free Experian credit report and FICO Score online or on the Experian app. You can also boost your FICO Score by connecting bills like your cell phone, utilities, streaming services and eligible rent payments.
Credit Karma: You can get your free VantageScore from Equifax and TransUnion online or on the Credit Karma app. You can also access free credit monitoring, identity monitoring, tax filing and other financial tools.
CreditWise from Capital One: You can get your free VantageScore from TransUnion online or on the CreditWise app. You can also access free credit monitoring, dark web surveillance, identity theft insurance and other features.
Discover Credit Scorecard: You can get your free FICO Score from Experian online or on the Discover app. You can also access free credit monitoring and alerts.
Chase Credit Journey: You can get your free VantageScore from TransUnion online or on the Chase app. You can also access free credit monitoring and alerts.
Remember that these are not the only ways to get your free credit score. You may also be able to access it through your bank, credit card issuer or other financial service provider. Check with them to see if they offer this benefit to their customers. aa16f39245