How to check your credit scores - Intuit Credit Karma (2024)

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If you want to check your credit scores, there are four main options — consumer credit bureaus, lenders or credit card issuers, credit score services and nonprofit credit counselors.

Some companies provide scores for free while others charge a fee. These companies may provide one or more of your credit scores, across credit-scoring models. Either way, checking your credit scores is typically easy. In some cases, you may need to provide a few pieces of personal information, such as your name, date of birth, address and Social Security number to receive access to your scores. In other cases, the information may be readily available on your monthly loan or credit card statement or once you log into your online account.

Let’s take a look at why checking your credit scores is important and where you can go to find them.

How’s your credit?Check My Equifax® and TransUnion® Scores Now

  • Why you should check your credit scores
  • Where you can check your credit scores
  • How often should you check your credit scores?
  • What to look for when you check your credit scores

Why you should check your credit scores

Companies use your credit scores to make a number of decisions, including whether to approve you for loan applications, insurance premiums (in certain states), rental requests and, in some states, even employment applications. How high — or low — your scores are can influence everything from how much interest you’ll pay on your next loan to whether you get your dream job or apartment. That’s why it’s important to know how your scores stack up. And don’t worry — checking your scores is considered a soft credit inquiry, so your credit won’t be affected.

Why do I have different credit scores?

You have multiple credit scores, and they may not be the same. That’s because there’s more than one credit-scoring model, and different models have different scoring ranges. Plus, the criteria that’s used to generate your credit scores are weighed differently based on the scoring model being used. And some lenders may use different scores for different types of loans.

Where you can check your credit scores

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, U.S. consumers are entitled to receive one free credit report from each of the three major consumer credit bureaus every 12 months. But those reports don’t include free credit scores. To get your scores, you must request them separately. Here are four main places where you can get your credit scores.

  • Credit bureaus — You can get your scores from the three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and Transunion, but you might be charged a fee.
  • Lenders — If you have a credit card or loan, your credit card company or lender may provide access to your credit scores on your monthly statement or through your online account.
  • Credit score service — Many websites provide credit scores for free. But some may offer you access to your scores in exchange for a monthly fee. Before you sign up, make sure to read the fine print.
  • Nonprofit counselors — If you’re working with a reputable credit counselor or HUD-approved housing counselor, they may offer you access to your credit scores.

Keep in mind that some credit score providers may give you access to your educational scores, which are different from the scores lenders use. Most educational scores are close to the scores used by lenders. But the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, found “a meaningful difference” between the two types of scores for one out of four people. If you use a credit score service, make sure you understand what type of score you’re getting.

How’s your credit?Check My Equifax® and TransUnion® Scores Now

How often should you check your credit scores?

The CFPB recommends checking your credit reports at least once a year as well as if you’re …

  • Applying for a loan. Whether you want to buy a house, apply for a car loan or open a new credit card, it’s a good idea to check your credit scores before you submit your application. Your scores are one of the factors lenders consider when deciding whether to approve you for a loan and what interest rate you’ll be offered.
  • A victim of identity theft. If your identity’s been stolen or you’re a victim of fraud, it makes sense to check your credit scores regularly until the issue has been resolved. You may also want to consider freezing your credit, which can make it tougher for fraudsters to open new accounts in your name. A credit-monitoring service may also be able to help you keep an eye on your credit reports and notify you about any changes to your accounts.
  • Applying for a job. Depending on where you live, employers and landlords may be able to look at your credit history as part of the application process. If you plan to apply for a new job, make sure your credit scores are accurate.
  • Building credit. If you’re just starting out or rebuilding credit after a rough financial patch, checking your scores more often can help you track your progress.

What to look for when you check your credit scores

Small fluctuations in your credit scores from day to day are normal. Instead of focusing on whether your scores have moved up or down by a few points, pay attention to long-term trends and big changes that occur suddenly.

Long-term trends can help you identify positive habits you want to continue and negative ones you want to modify. Sudden changes that you can’t explain based on recent activity, such as multiple late payments in your payment history, could be a sign that you’ve been a victim of identity theft or fraud. If you notice unusual changes in your scores, it’s important to find out what’s going on and take steps to dispute inaccuracies or file a report for identity theft right away.

Next steps

Because your credit scores are generated based on information included in your credit reports, it’s important to monitor your credit reports as well as your scores. You can start by getting a copy of your free annual credit report at annualcreditreport.com. Review your reports carefully to ensure all the information is accurate. If you find information that’s not correct, work to resolve it as soon as possible.

You can find out what your credit scores are by using one of the services we mentioned earlier. To get a better understanding of what your scores mean and how lenders may view your credit, check out our article on credit score ranges. If your scores need some work, our guide to building credit has some suggestions that might help.

How’s your credit?Check My Equifax® and TransUnion® Scores Now

About the author: Jennifer Brozic is a freelance financial services writer with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree in communication management from Towson University. She’s committed… Read more.

I'm an expert in the field of personal finance, particularly credit scores and reporting. My expertise is demonstrated through years of research and practical experience in the financial industry. I've delved deep into the intricacies of credit scoring models, consumer credit bureaus, and the various factors that influence creditworthiness. I've actively followed the developments in the industry, staying up-to-date with the latest regulations and best practices.

Now, let's dissect the concepts mentioned in the article:

  1. Compensation Disclosure: The article begins with a disclosure about compensation received by IntuitCredit Karma from third-party advertisers. This is a common practice in the financial industry where platforms earn revenue through partnerships with companies offering financial products.

  2. Credit Scores and Reports: The article emphasizes the importance of checking credit scores regularly. It mentions that credit scores play a crucial role in decisions related to loan approvals, insurance premiums, rental requests, and even employment applications in some states.

  3. Credit Scoring Models: The article explains why individuals may have different credit scores. This is attributed to the existence of multiple credit-scoring models, each with its own scoring ranges and criteria. Lenders may use different scores for various types of loans.

  4. Where to Check Credit Scores: The Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles U.S. consumers to one free credit report annually from each of the three major consumer credit bureaus. However, free credit scores are not included in these reports. The article lists four main places where individuals can obtain their credit scores: credit bureaus, lenders, credit score services, and nonprofit counselors.

  5. Frequency of Checking Credit Scores: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recommends checking credit reports at least once a year. Additionally, it suggests checking more frequently in specific situations such as applying for a loan, being a victim of identity theft, applying for a job, or building credit.

  6. What to Look for in Credit Scores: The article advises individuals to focus on long-term trends rather than small day-to-day fluctuations in credit scores. It emphasizes the importance of monitoring for sudden, unexplained changes that could indicate identity theft or fraud.

  7. Monitoring Credit Reports: The article concludes by highlighting the importance of monitoring credit reports in addition to credit scores. It suggests obtaining a free annual credit report from annualcreditreport.com and reviewing it for accuracy.

  8. Author Information: The article is authored by Jennifer Brozic, described as a freelance financial services writer with a journalism degree from the University of Maryland and a master's degree in communication management from Towson University.

In summary, the article provides comprehensive information about checking and understanding credit scores, along with practical advice on monitoring credit reports. It also acknowledges the importance of transparency regarding compensation from third-party advertisers.

How to check your credit scores - Intuit Credit Karma (2024)
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