This post is part of our series 7 Weeks to Your Best Finances.
This series is meant to serve as a 7-week path to improving your finances. It will cover all the important topics like starting a budget, saving money, making money, investing, and more.
To find out more and see all the tips and ideas for improving your finances check out the dedicated 7 Weeks to Your Best Finances page.
Credit scores are like a report card for your finances. No matter where you stand financially, you should always be checking your credit report at least once a year, and check your credit score more often.
Your credit report is full of information regarding your personal financial situation. You need to check it annually to make sure that everything is accurate and that there is no fraudulent activity on your credit. Checking your credit report will also show you which accounts you have open under your name.
Unfortunately, your credit report doesn’t typically show you your credit score. You often have to pay to view your actual score, but there are some free ways to access your credit score, which are all listed below.
While these numbers vary slightly, in general, you can use the following information below to determine what your FICO score means to a lender.
- <500: Very bad
- 500-549: Bad
- 550-599: Poor
- 600-649: Fair
- 650-699: Good
- 700-749: Very good
- 750 and up: Excellent
It’s important to know your credit score because it not only affects whether you will get approved for a mortgage, credit card, or car loan, but it impacts the interest rate you will receive on those loans.
Clearly, your credit score is an extremely important number to know, and here are 5 different ways to find it.
1) Your Credit Card Company
Some credit card companies allow you to see a free FICO score on your monthly statement. While credit card companies won’t be able to show you your entire credit report, being able to see your credit score every single month is a huge advantage.
It’s an easy way to keep track of your credit score. Simply sign up for a credit card that offers the availability to see your updated FICO score every month. Here are a couple credit cards that offer a free credit score every month:
- Discover it® Card. Not only does this card give you an updated credit score on your monthly statements, but it also gives 1% cash back on every purchase, plus a revolving 5% cash back on categories that change every three months. Here is more information about the rewards of this card.
- Citi® Double Cash Card. This card offers a free FICO score and has a high cash back offer, resulting in 1% cash back when you make a purchase and 1% cash back when you make a payment. So if you made a purchase for $100 you would get 1% cash back on the purchase, and then an additional 1% cash back when you made the $100 payment.
2) Check Your Loan Statement
Just like how many credit card companies are including your credit score on your statement, many auto loans are beginning to include your credit score on your statement every month.
Often, your credit score will also be listed on your loan’s online account, making it an easy way to keep current with your credit score.
3) Credit Bureaus
Though they aren’t free, each credit bureau (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) offers some form of credit monitoring, which will provide you with your credit score every month.
These services charge you monthly but will also monitor your credit report and report to you any changes.
With so many free services to check your credit score, this really isn’t necessary unless you want the peace of mind of having your credit report monitored all the time.
4) Buy a Score
There are many websites that will allow you to buy a credit score. This also really isn’t necessary, considering there are so many other ways to access your credit score.
If you simply Google “how to find my credit score,” you’ll be bombarded with companies declaring that they will give you a credit score for free. However, most of these companies will give you an initial free credit score, but will require you to put in your credit card information and will continue to charge you every month.
If a website requires you to enter your credit card information, skip it and check out some of the following websites that will truly give you access to your free credit score.
5) Utilize Free Websites
While many websites claim to offer free credit scores, most find some way to charge you. The following websites offer truly free credit scores:
All of these websites are relatively easy to use. Simply enter in some personal information and answer all of the security questions, and it will show you your credit score. Keep in mind, most of these utilize your VantageScore, not your FICO score.
Different lenders look at different scores, so while some may look at your FICO score, there should not be a huge discrepancy between the two.
Knowing your credit score is as important as knowing your income. You need to know where you stand financially, and how potential lenders are viewing you. Remember, a high credit score can save you thousands of dollars over a lifetime, so always aim to be improving it.