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When it comes to your financial life, your credit score is very important. In the United States, credit scores are used to judge your creditworthiness and your financial trustworthiness. That means lenders use your credit score to decide whether to approve you for a loan, determine the amount you’re eligible to borrow, and set the interest rate they offer you. Having a good credit score can actually save you tens of thousands of dollars over your lifetime. As if that weren’t enough, your credit score is also used to determine your trustworthiness to open up a cell phone account, set up an account at a utility, or rent an apartment.
While many people believe every person has just one credit score, every consumer actually has multiple credit scores since different companies calculate your credit score in different ways. The most common model used for credit scoring is the FICO score which has a set of criteria to calculate your score including things like your repayment history and the kinds of accounts you have.
No matter what credit scoring method is used, the basis of your score comes from the information in your credit report. Your credit report is a listing of your credit history as tracked by the three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. If your wondering how to check your credit score for free check out these options below.
You’re Entitled to Free Annual Credit Reports
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act guarantees all U.S. residents a free copy of their credit reports from each of the three credit bureaus once every twelve months. There are other circumstances in which you might be entitled to a free credit report. For example, if you were denied an application for credit, employment, or insurance because of your credit score, you have 60 days to request a free credit report after receiving notice. You’re also entitled to a free credit report if you’re unemployed and plan to search for work in the next 60 days, if you believe your credit report is inaccurate because of fraud or identity theft, or if you’re on welfare.
Looking at your credit report annually is important to make sure that everything is accurate and to help protect you against identity theft. If there is anything inaccurate on your credit report, it could significantly impact your credit score. If you get a copy of your credit report and there is something wrong you are entitled to make an appeal and the credit bureaus have to investigate and respond within a 30-day period.
How Do You Get Your Free Credit Report?
There are three ways you can access your free credit report. The easiest way is by going to annualcreditreport.com and requesting a report. By doing so you get access to your credit report immediately. Another way to access your credit report is to call 1-877-322-8228 and request a report. The final way to request a report is to fill out an Annual Credit Report Request Form and send it via mail to the following address:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Bank Accounts With Free Credit Score Monitoring
If you want to monitor your credit score, you might be happy to hear that there are a number of banks which offer free credit score monitoring to their customers. For example, Capital One offers a service they call CreditWise to all of their account holders. Similarly, Discover Bank, Bank of America, Citigroup, Ally financial, and JP Morgan Chase offer free FICO scores. USAA offers access to your VantageScore which is an alternative to FICO.
Credit Cards With Free Credit Score Monitoring
If your bank doesn’t offer a credit score monitoring service for free, then your credit card might. Capital One offers the same CreditWise service that it offers to its banking customers, and Barclay, Citigroup, Discover, First Bank, US Bank, Walmart, Commerce Bank, JP Morgan Chase Bank, American Express, USAA Bank, US Bank, and First Bank all offer some form of credit monitoring services with some or all of their credit cards.
Credit Score Websites
While many free credit checking websites might want you to sign up for a service they will eventually start charging you for, there are some sites that allow you to check your credit score for free indefinitely. For example, the Mint app offers free credit score monitoring when you sign up, and other online websites do the same like Credit Sesame and Credit Karma. The score they provide you with will depend on the site. As a bonus, many of these sites also offer you tips and suggestions for how to improve you score.
Author: Jeff Gitlen