Credit checks are not only important when you consider opening a new credit card. You may also want to check your credit score if you are in the market for a new home or vehicle or to ensure that your identity has not been stolen. Note that looking at your credit score does not affect your credit.
If you haven't checked your credit score lately, start with a known company like Experian and Credit Karma (full list below). There are several offering a range of services at different price points, including a free online check and free 30-day trial. Keep in mind that some companies require your credit card information, but they typically provide additional services such as identity theft insurance and mark suspicious use of your social security number.
So how does a credit score work? Everyone starts with a FICO score, which is your credit rating number that can vary from 300 to 850. The higher the number the better. Some factors affecting your FICO score include "hard queries" like applying for credit (your credit is under review); "derogatory marks" like paying a bill late (these can keep your score down); and how much of your total credit you spend (the less you spend the better). You get a FICO score from the three major US credit agencies: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Here's how these services break down.
- Free 30-day trial period
- Price: $ 20 pr. Month
- Offer tool to help increase your credit score
- Includes identity theft monitoring
- Say it will counter fraud if your identity or personal information is stolen
- Shows your FICO scores for all three agencies ( Experian, TransUnion, Equifax)  Monitoring Your Credit
Experian (or download app for iOS or Android) is one of the largest credit monitoring services offering your FICO scores to the three agencies. Experian can help you increase your FICO score by using utility bills that you already pay to apply for your credit. Your new credit results will take effect immediately.
The company monitors identity theft and performs daily scans ofpages to discover if your information has been stolen. If anything is discovered, Experian says its support team will help.
- $ 25 pr. Month
- Includes free identity protection
- Unlimited score and report access
- Credit Lock Plus
- Up to $ 1,000,000 in ID theft insurance
Also among the three largest credit monitoring services is TransUnion (or download the app for iOS or Android). With TransUnion you can check your credit score report as often as you want to see if your score has changed.
Identity protection is included via Javelin, an identity protection service provider. Your monthly fee includes credit monitoring, immediate alerts if someone applies for credit in your name and up to $ 1,000,000 in ID theft. TransUnion Credit Lock is a service that keeps your credit profile on locking until you unseal it. If a criminal, for example. Applying for credit in your name prevents the lock from stealing your credit information.
- $ 5 for a 30-day trial
- $ 20 per. Month
- Showing your 3-Bureau FICO scores
- Includes Identity Protection
- Sending suspicious activity alerts
- Credit & Social Security Number Monitoring
The Third United Credit Agency, Equifax (or downloading the app for iOS ) suffered one of thein 2017 affecting . Equifax has a three-year plan for .
If you feel forgiving, Equifax's services are on a par with competitors. It provides a copy of your Equifax credit report and monitors your credit and social security numbers by scanning sites where consumer information is sold. Equifax also sends suspicious activity alerts, such as someone applying for credit in your name across the country. . “/>
Equifax monitors your credit and social security number.
Screenshot of Katie Conner / CBS Interactive
- Check credit score for free
- Monitors credit
- Shows credit factors and how they affect your score
Credit Karma (or download app for iOS or Android) is a personal company. You can use it to check your credit score as often as you want for free. You can also access your credit score from TransUnion and Equifax, but not from Experian. Credit Karma monitors your credit and sends weekly updates and will notify you if there is any change in your credit score.
The site also shows your points and credit factors that affect your score, as if you are spending too much of your credit card limit, derogatory characters, and tough inquiries.
- Check your credit score for free
- All personal information is encrypted
Mint (or download app for iOS or Android) is a free service for managing your personal finances. In addition to tracking your payments, you can use it to find out where your credit score is lacking, such as not having a long credit history and where it's good to pay bills on time. Mint shows you your on-time payments, credit usage (so you can see if you reach your limit) and the average age of credit on a screen.
Once you have verified your identity, Mint will send your credit report statement and credit monitoring alerts if your score goes up or down.
- Check your Experian credit score
- Score information updates every 30 days
- Monitor credit usage, tough inquiries and delays
FreeCreditReport.com is a pared-down service from Experian to access your credit report for free. The company gives you an updated credit report every 30 days. You have access to your account history, as well as property and credit accounts. FreeCreditReport.com displays tough inquiries in your account, tracks your credit usage and shows potential brands against you, as well as late payments.
Mixing and fighting services can help cover more ground
When it comes to controlling your credit, there are many ways to go. You can choose a service or pair free services together to access your FICO score from all three major agencies.
But if you go that route, keep in mind that you don't want the promised credit protection and monitoring provided by Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.