Your credit score is one of the most important numbers in your financial life. It can affect so much of your adult life and determine whether you get approved for an apartment, a mortgage, a credit card, a loan and more. In some cases, employers actually check your credit as part of the applicant screening process.
Your credit is represented in both your credit report and your credit score. Your credit report is a comprehensive report showing your debts, account balances, and payment history. Your credit score is a numeric average of what is represented on the report. As an analogy, you can think of your credit report as a report card, whereas your credit score is like a GPA.
When verifying your credit report or credit score, you will be using one of the three credit reporting agencies. The three credit bureaus are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
Because your credit is such an important aspect of your financial life, it's imperative that you check your credit report and credit score regularly. Doing so can help you track your progress and watch out for any mistakes or potential identity theft.
Here are the best free resources to access your credit report and credit score.
Legally, you are entitled to one free credit report each year. AnnualCreditReport.com is the federally endorsed and managed website that lets you access your free credit report. There are many other websites out there that offer your free credit report, but be wary. Many of them are scams and could be used to access your information. When looking for your credit report, your go-to option should be AnnualCreditReport.com.
Mint.com is online budgeting software that can help you track your income and expenses. It's great software to help you get a bird's eye view of your financial life. As an added bonus, they recently added a credit score feature. So if you want a 2 in 1 bonus, sign up for Mint.com and track your finances and get a free credit score.
If you want to get your credit score and your credit report in one place, Credit Karma is a great option. They have many different tools and resources on their websites and aim to give you "the tools you need for better credit health." One of the best features is that they have credit monitoring to help you stay on top of any drastic changes in your credit score, and help you be aware of potential instances of identity theft.
Another great option to check your credit score is Credit Sesame. Credit Sesame will give you your current credit score and show you your credit score trends, which help illustrate the ups and downs of your credit score. In addition, they also provide a financial analysis to tell you how you are doing managing your credit. Not only that, but they give you a snapshot of your debt as well as your debt to income ratio. You can get a credit report with Credit Sesame, but that will cost extra. However, their free credit score service is easy to use and can help you get a better picture of your current credit situation.
Use these resources to do a financial checkup and access your free credit report and credit score. By empowering yourself with information, you can improve your credit and have a firm understanding of where your credit stands when applying for things like a mortgage, credit card, and more.
Have you used any of these services? If so, what is your favorite?