Monitoring your credit is important. Although the FreeCreditReport.Com commercials may be joking in nature, they illustrate an important point and they do it with a tune that is stuck in my head for hours each time I hear it. Knowing where your credit stands and monitoring throughout the year to ensure the direction is what you expect will only better you as your own personal finance expert. The important credit score helps banks determine loans for you, credit card companies to determine liability and how much to offer you and much more! Keep in mind, credit score and credit report are two very different things. You are entitled to one free credit report per year and I hope everyone takes advantage of this. Depending on how the report turns out it may be in your interest to invest in more then one report a year. The credit score (FICO) on the other hand is the number derived from your credit history.
Between 700 & 850 = Very good or excellent credit score
Between 680 & 699 = Good credit score Average American Credit Score = 682 (varying sources)
Between 620 & 679 = Average or OK score.
Between 580 & 619 = Low credit score
Between 500 & 579 = Poor credit score
Between 300 & 499 = Bad credit score
Credit scores are influenced by your bills, which is why its important to pay bills on time! Medical bills, mortgages, credit cards, cell phones, utilities, the list goes on. All these bills if delinquent can/will be reported to the respective credit agency and eventually hit your report.
There are some great sites that allow you to get your credit score and/or report for FREE!
Credit Karma-This is the grandfather of the three sites here. CK is the oldest and most established with great customer satisfaction. The interface is simple and easy to use. There is minor graphical representation available for your debt and credit, but not the best. CK also has a great and simple mobile app which allows you to monitor on the go. Credit Karma provides scores from Trans Union which uses the emperica score FICO range.
Credit Sesame-Another great company. Your score at Credit Sesame is from Experian which uses the plus score range. I like CS because of the tools they offer to represent your credit score and graphics they allow you to view. Also, I have found that CS has much better/more applicable credit offers then CK has for my own accounts. I have actually capitalized on a CS offer for credit card balance transfers which I touched on in a prior post.
Quizzle-This is a newer company to the market, but they allow you to see not only your score but your credit report as well, which is fantastic. Looks like gives you a CE Credit Score that’s based on your credit report from Experian. Quizzle will give you a new free credit report and new free credit score every six months. This is one I am using weekly and starting to like a lot!
All three sites are free, which is great, and they offer detailed levels of protection for your information. They are established and respected and are able to provide the results for free through other revenue sources such as credit offers/promos and advertising. Between the three Credit Karma is certainly more established and has been around longer in the business. This adds a certain level of trust, but people have complained about inaccuracy from some bits of both companies.
I enjoy reviewing all these sites as they give a full circle of my credit, but I take the info with a grain of salt as I have noted inconsistencies a few times as well (especially when it comes to student loans). Another perk is that they all have fantastic mobile apps which allow you to monitor your score on the go and set alerts to push notifications. Alerts are crucial to notify you of changes to your credit as its impossible to believe everyone will have the time to monitor daily or weekly. All three offer fantastic customizable alerts.
Do you monitor your credit on a consistent basis? If so, do you use these tools or others?