Credit monitoring services are crucial to helping you build and maintain a high credit score. They can give you important information you need about your credit history, show you how your actions impact your credit score and also notify you about potential fraud so you can stop it in its tracks.
There are many different credit monitoring services available, but not all are created equal. Here’s what you need to know about credit and how to find the best free credit score monitoring service for you.
Experian Free Credit Score
What Is a Credit Score?
A credit score is a three-digit number that represents the overall health of your credit history. The top two credit scores, FICO and VantageScore, have a range of 300 to 850.
A high credit score indicates that you have managed your debts well in the past and present, including paying your bills on time, keeping your credit card balances low, and taking out credit only when you need it. On the flip side, a low credit score could be a sign that you’re new to credit or that you’ve made some missteps with your credit accounts in the past.
Lenders use your credit score when you apply for credit to determine your eligibility for the loan or credit card. If approved, it can also impact your interest rate.
VantageScore and FICO
As previously mentioned, the two most common credit scores are the FICO and VantageScore credit cards. FICO was developed by Fair Isaac Corporation, and VantageScore was created as a joint venture between the three national credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
VantageScore is a popular credit score among free credit monitoring services. However, it’s generally used only to give you an idea of your credit health. When it comes to applying for a loan or credit card, lenders typically use your FICO score.
As a result, it’s a good idea to use at least one credit monitoring service that offers a FICO score.
The Importance of Knowing Your Score
Knowing your credit score is crucial because it helps you understand where you stand with your credit health. It can tell you whether you need to take steps to improve your credit history or if you just need to maintain the credit habits you’ve already developed.
In addition to applying for credit, here are some other situations where your credit history may come into play:
- When you’re applying to rent an apartment, home or condominium.
- When you’re applying for an auto or homeowners insurance policy.
- When you’re applying for a job.
What Is Considered a Good Credit Score?
Each lender has its own criteria for determining what it considers good credit. However, FICO considers a credit score between 670 and 740 to be good credit. Between 740 and 799 is very good credit and 800 and above is exceptional credit.
How Can You Build Your Credit Scores?
Whether you’re just starting out to build credit or you’re trying to recover from some past mistakes, here are some steps you can take to build a positive history going forward:
- Check your credit reports to see which areas you can address.
- Always pay your bills on time, and get caught up on past-due accounts if necessary.
- Pay down and maintain low credit card balances relative to your credit limits.
- Avoid applying for credit unless you absolutely need it.
- Ask a family member who has good credit to add you as an authorized user on their credit card account.
- Use a service like Experian Boost to get credit for your on-time payments with utilities, your phone bill and even some streaming services.
Experian Free Credit Score
Best Free Credit Score Services
With so many free credit monitoring services available, it may be challenging to find the best fit for you. The best benchmark for free credit score services includes which type of credit score is offered, how much credit report information is available and whether you get real-time alerts.
If you’re wondering what’s the best service to check my credit score for free, here are the top options.
Experian’s free credit score service offers free access to your FICO score and also your Experian credit report, which you can view anytime and is updated every 30 days. You’ll also get real-time alerts whenever a new inquiry or account is added to your credit report, as well as new personal information.
You can dispute credit report errors directly with the credit bureau and also potentially raise your credit score through Experian Boost.
Run by the three credit bureaus, AnnualCreditReport.com allows you to get free access to your credit report from each bureau for free every 12 months. However, the service does not offer credit monitoring or access to your credit score.
One of the most popular free credit score services, Credit Karma provides a VantageScore credit score based on your Equifax and TransUnion credit reports. You’ll also get comprehensive information from both reports, which is valuable even if you prefer a FICO score.
The service sends you alerts when changes to your credit reports occur, and you can also submit disputes through Credit Karma for your Equifax and TransUnion credit reports. The service can also notify you of exposed passwords that could cause you to fall victim to identity theft.
WalletHub provides access to your VantageScore credit score based on your TransUnion credit report. You’ll also be able to view the information found in that report.
Additionally, WalletHub can run a credit analysis for you on various factors that influence your credit score, and you can use its credit score simulator to get an idea of how certain actions can help or hurt your credit.
One of the first credit monitoring services, along with Credit Karma, Credit Sesame gives you access to your VantageScore powered by your TransUnion credit report.
It breaks down the different factors that impact your score and can provide alerts and updates when changes are made to your credit score. It can also provide a quick analysis of your debt.
The popular personal finance website offers free access to your VantageScore credit score from TransUnion, along with important details from your credit report. If your score changes, NerdWallet will share some information on why, along with some personal insights and alerts to help you stay on top of your score.
FAQs About Credit Score Services
Depending on where you look, a free credit report can give you all the information on your report or just a little. Make sure you read the terms to get an idea of what you’re seeing. If you want copies of your actual credit reports, go through AnnualCreditReport.com.
If you want to check your FICO score for free, register with Experian to get access to it whenever you want. Alternatively, some banks, credit unions and other financial institutions offer free credit score access as a customer benefit.
Technically, your credit score changes as often as the information found on your credit report changes. Because creditors don’t all report on the same day every month, these changes can happen nearly daily. That said, credit score services may only update your credit score weekly, monthly or even quarterly.
No, checking your own credit will never impact your credit score. The potential negative impact only occurs if you apply for credit and give the lender permission to run a hard inquiry.