With Halloween just around the corner, most Americans are looking forward to all sorts of spooky excitement. Jack-o-lanterns, costumes, candy, and parties. But one thing that might scare some people this Halloween is checking their credit score. According to the Annual Credit Score Survey produced by the Consumer Federation of America and VantageScore Solutions, 57 percent of Americans check their credit scores once a year. Even though this is more than half of the general population and the average credit score is at an all-time high of 700 for consumers, it’s still important to monitor your credit score for many different reasons.
Why Should I Check My Credit Score?
If you’re looking to buy or rent a home, looking for a new job, or even want a new credit card, it’s important to know where your credit stands. A higher credit score can give you more buying power and lower interest rates, which can help save you money. Also, with the holidays just around the corner, you might be thinking about putting all of your purchases on a credit card to earn big rewards. For credit cards that offer generous rewards and higher limits, you’ll likely need good to excellent credit.
One other reason to monitor your credit score is because the threat of identity theft is very real. This can be the most frightening thing that can have a significant impact on your credit. But you shouldn’t be afraid of checking it because it’s best to know now so that you can start repairing your credit for a better future. There’s nothing worse than being blindsided by a charged off account you weren’t aware of while applying for a mortgage.
Identity theft can lead to multiple hard inquiries, which makes up 10 percent of your score, and high unpaid balances that can turn into delinquencies such as late payments or charge offs, which can have a severely negative impact. These impact your payment history which is 35 percent of your credit score. Even if you’re scared to look at your credit report and score, it’s a good idea to check them frequently so that you can work on correcting any errors that may appear.
How Can I Check My Credit Score?
There are many ways to check your credit score. Free services such as Credit.com offer two credit scores that are updated twice a month. This also includes a free Credit Report Card, which is a summary of your credit report. Your Credit Report Card breaks down your credit report and lets you know where your credit score needs work, whether it’s paying down debt or establishing a positive credit history. Credit.com will help you come up with an action plan to help you improve your credit score.
Other ways you can check your credit are purchasing them from credit scoring companies like FICO or VantageScore, or pulling them from the three credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax). Remember though, this usually costs money, so doing this can add up.
Financial institutions like your bank can also be a great resource to check your credit score, and will often provide it at no cost. Banks like Chase, Wells Fargo, and Discover offer free credit scores to their customers.
What Credit Score Should I Check?
There are many credit scores out there – so many that experts can’t pinpoint how many there are exactly. However, if you can access as many different credit scores as you can, you’ll be in a better position to know where you stand. Don’t be afraid if you see differences in your credit scores from different companies. There are different ways of calculating credit scores and different information that companies are using to calculate them, so don’t be surprised if you see a huge difference from one score to another.
So trick-or-treat. Don’t be afraid to check your credit score this holiday season. Sign up for your free credit score today with Credit.com. It’s not that scary.