Home > Credit 101 > How Often Should I Check My Credit Report?

Comments 0 Comments

Many people may put off checking their credit reports until they absolutely need to – perhaps because they’re applying for credit, or maybe they became aware of a problem with their credit. But there’s a lot to be said for proactively checking your credit – for one, you can discover errors, fraud or other problems, and take care of those issues before they prevent you from getting a loan when you need it.

Fortunately, under federal law, you’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

So how often should you check your credit reports? At the very minimum, it’s smart to check your credit reports once a year.  You can pull all three at once, or you can space them out throughout the year. You can make credit-report checking part of another annual event if you wish, like after New Year’s or your birthday. A new year means another look at your credit record.

You can request a free copy of your credit report by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com, and can view your credit report online or request a copy be mailed to you.

Once you have your credit report in front of you, review it and make sure all the information listed on it is accurate. Do you recognize all the accounts? Does it accurately reflect your payment history on each of the credit accounts listed? Did your credit file get mixed up with another consumer’s?  Are there collection accounts that you don’t recognize?

Be sure to dispute any errors or inaccuracies that you find.

More Frequent Credit Checks 

You may wish to pull a copy of your credit report more frequently than once a year, especially if you plan on applying for a major loan, such as a car loan or a mortgage.  By double-checking that your credit report is error-free, you can help to ensure that the lender is using accurate credit information when determining what interest rate to offer you on a loan.

Also, if you are worried your credit has been compromised in some way by an identity thief or through a data breach at a retailer or financial company, you may wish to take some extra looks at your credit report throughout the year.

A paid credit monitoring service is one way to monitor your credit record throughout the year. You will receive your updated credit reports monthly or quarterly, depending on the service.

Free Credit Monitoring

Another way to monitor your credit is by using a free online service. You can create a free account with Credit.com, which will provide you with an easy-to-understand breakdown of the information in your Experian credit report, using letter grades to show you exactly how you are doing. It also provides two credit scores (a big drop in your credit score may mean it’s time to take a closer look at your credit report) and guidance on how to improve based on your particular credit standing. It’s updated every 14 days.

More on Credit Reports and Credit Scores:

Image: Ammentorp Photography

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team