Are you trying to keep a closer eye on your finances? Or maybe you want to get an auto loan, but you want to make sure your score is in good shape? Either way, you might be wondering if you’re checking your credit score too much.
Honestly, there really isn’t a limit to how often you can check your credit score. But, before you blaze ahead and check your credit score, there are a few things you need to know.
The Difference Between Your Credit Score and Credit Report
Let’s start with the basics—the difference between a credit score and a credit report. Your credit report is a detailed document about your credit history. It shows active and past accounts, whether you paid on time and how much credit you’ve used compared to open balances. They could also include names of your past employers if you’ve ever included them on a credit application, as well as negative records.
On the other hand, your credit score is a three-digit number, typically between 300 and 850, that’s calculated based on all the information in your credit report. There are many credit scoring models, including popular models such as FICO® and VantageScore.
While credit scoring models all work toward the same goal—providing an overall picture of how likely you are to pay your debts—they do so with slight variations in the formulas. That means your credit scores might vary slightly between these models.
You also have more than one credit report. Not every lender or business reports to all three of the major credit bureaus. So the information in your credit file can also vary slightly, which will lead to some differences in scores.
How Often Can You Check Your Credit Score for Free?
Here’s where another difference between credit score and credit report comes in. To access your credit report, you can get yours for free via AnnualCreditReport.com.
Usually, the reports are available once every year. Which means you could get a look at your credit information every four months by spreading out your requests for each of the bureaus. However, to help consumers manage credit and finances during the pandemic, AnnualCreditReport.com and the three credit bureaus are making reports available weekly through April 2021.
Reasons to Check Your Credit Report and Score
Why bother checking your credit report or score regularly? Here are a few reasons:
- Identify inaccurate negative items that might be dragging down your score. The faster you catch and challenge these items, the more likely you’re able to prove they’re not correct. The credit bureaus have to remove them if they can’t be verified.
- Checking your credit report regularly helps you see whether odd activity is occurring, which can indicate that you’re a victim of identity theft or fraud. Again, knowing and acting early can save you a lot of hassle in the long run.
- You can see if there are issues with your report. If you see the score moving in a negative direction and aren’t sure why, you can investigate further.
- You might want to check your credit before you apply for a loan, especially one with greater qualification requirements such as a mortgage. That way, you can fix any possible issues before a lender evaluates you for approval.
- You can ensure there aren’t any surprises on your report before you apply to rent an apartment, get auto insurance quotes or send your resume in for a job. Some of these opportunities can depend in part on your credit history.
- If you’re working to improve your credit history and score, you may want to see that your efforts are having a positive impact.
How Can You Get Your Credit Score?
You might have access to your credit score via your credit card provider. If this is a benefit you get as a card holder, you can typically see the score by logging into your credit card account online or via a mobile app. The downside is that this is only one version of your score.
You can get insights into your credit by signing up for Credit.com’s credit report card. Your credit report card is updated every two weeks, plus you’ll get information about the five major factors that go into your score and how you’re faring with each.
If you’re interested in seeing your credit score from a variety of models, consider signing up for ExtraCredit. This service lets you track 28 of your FICO®Scores and includes other features such as dark web monitoring.
How Many Points Does Your Credit Score Go Down for an Inquiry?
Requesting your own score or credit report doesn’t impact your score at all. That’s because this is considered a soft inquiry. Only hard inquiries impact your credit score. Hard inquiries occur when a lender pulls your credit for the purpose of evaluating you for a loan or other credit.
So, whether you’re requesting your credit report via AnnualCreditReport.com or investing in a service such as ExtraCredit, get as much information about your credit as you can. It won’t hurt your score to do so.