There are many ways to check your credit score. This three-digit number gives lenders and creditors an idea of how you’ve managed debt in the past and the likelihood that you’ll fall behind on future payments. It also plays a role in the interest rate you’ll receive on other financial products, like credit cards and personal loans.
Understanding What Your Credit Score Means
If you’ve accessed your credit score in the past, you probably already know you have more than one credit score. This is due to the abundance of credit-scoring models that exist. However, the two most prevalent models are FICO and VantageScore.
FICO Score vs. VantageScore
Approximately 90 percent of creditors and lenders use the FICO scoring model when making credit decisions. VantageScore isn’t as popular, but it’s another commonly used credit-scoring model.
Both FICO and VantageScore credit scores range from 300 to 850.
Minimum Scoring Criteria
Consumers need the following to get a FICO score:
- At least one open credit account or tradeline that’s six or more months old
- At least one open credit account or tradeline account that’s been reporting to the major credit bureaus over the last six months
The minimum scoring criteria for VantageScore are far laxer. As a result, it’s possible to generate a score with this credit-scoring model with just one open credit account or tradeline, even if it’s less than six months old.
Keep in mind that deceased consumers will not receive a credit score, regardless of what’s in their credit report.
Credit Score Ranges
See here the credit score ranges for the two credit scoring models, FICO score and VantageScore.
Below are the FICO score ratings:
- 300 – 579: Poor
- 580 – 669: Fair
- 670 – 739: Good
- 740 – 799: Very Good
- 800 – 850: Exceptional
Here are the VantageScore ratings:
- 300 – 499: Very Poor
- 500 – 600: Poor
- 601- 660: Fair
- 661- 780: Good
- 781 – 850: Excellent
Credit Score Values
The credit score calculation for FICO score is as follows:
- Payment history: 35 percent
- Amounts owed: 30 percent
- Length of credit history: 15 percent
- Credit mix: 10 percent
- New credit: 10 percent
Here’s how the VantageScore is computed:
- Total credit usage, balance and available credit: Extremely influential
- Credit mix and experience: Highly influential
- Payment history: Moderately influential
- Age of credit history: Less influential
- New accounts opened: Less influential
Does Frequently Checking Your Credit Score Lower It?
Checking your credit score won’t lower it since it only generates a soft inquiry. In fact, you should check your credit score often to know where you stand. Also, pull your credit report at least once annually to ensure it’s accurate and file disputes promptly if you spot inaccuracies.
Why Checking Your Credit Score Regularly Matters
Beyond knowing where you stand, significant changes in your credit score could indicate identity theft or some other issue that needs to be addressed promptly, like debit card fraud, that is why checking your credit score regularly is important. But if you ignore your credit profile for an extended period, the fraudster could have additional time to do significant damage. And if inaccurate information is present in your credit report, it can continue to drag your score down until you dispute the error(s) with the credit bureaus.
The Top Ways to Check Your Credit Score
Here are the easiest ways to check your credit score:
Sign Up for a Free Credit Report
You can view your credit report and score for free by signing up for a free Experian CreditWorks Basic membership. It also includes credit monitoring along with FICO score tracking and alerts. It also includes Experian Boost, a tool that may help you instantly improve your FICO Score by adding eligible streaming service, utility and telecom payments to your Experian credit report.
Contact Your Credit Card Issuer/Lender
Check account statements from your credit card issuers or lenders, as many include your credit score. If it’s not visible, log in to the online dashboard or call the lender to determine if they offer free credit scores to customers.
Visit a Nonprofit Credit Counselor
Schedule an appointment with a nonprofit credit counselor to discuss your credit scores. Reputable counseling agencies, which can be located through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, will provide this information for free.