Your credit report can be your best reference or your harshest critic. It is a key factor in whether lenders will work with you and what interest rates you receive. Your credit score can also affect things such as who will rent an apartment to you and who will hire you. For these reasons, it's important to check your credit report at least annually to ensure that everything in it is correct. Don't keep brushing aside those thoughts of "I really need to get my credit report" and just do it. You won't regret it.
It's easy to keep track of your credit score and credit report information online if you use the right company. Identity Guard, SmarterCredit and PrivacyGuard are the best credit report services to access your credit report and credit scores, and to monitor your credit.
By checking your annual credit report and score, you can find errors, catch ongoing identity theft and stop fraud. If something on your credit history report is inaccurate, you can correct the information so that it won't affect your score when you're ready to make a major credit purchase or look for a new apartment.
Keeping an eye on your credit score report can help you save money as well. The higher your credit score, the better terms and interest rates you'll receive, which translates to lower monthly payments and less interest over the life of your loans. Although credit report services don't repair your credit or dispute errors for you, the best credit report companies can provide you with the information you need to improve your credit and resolve problems.
Additionally, you can use a credit monitoring service to notify you as often as once a month when your credit score or something on your credit report changes. This service can provide you with even more assurance that your credit score and report will be accurate when lenders look at it. Our credit monitoring service reviews can help you assess which service has the monitoring tools you want.
A common misconception you should be aware of is that checking or monitoring your credit report and score will hurt your credit. This is not true. When you check your credit score or report, the credit bureaus consider it a soft inquiry. However, if a lender looks at your credit score or credit report, this is considered a hard inquiry that will be reflected in your credit score and report.
Under U.S. law, you can get a credit report for free each year - that includes the reports from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion through AnnualCreditReport.com. However, this report doesn't include your credit score, just the report information. Additionally, if you have already received your free credit report for the year, or if you want to monitor your credit information, a credit report service will help you do so.
For more information about your credit and finances, see our articles about credit report services.
Not all credit report services provide the same features and additional services. These features and services are divided into categories: which bureaus the reports are from, what scoring model the service uses, the credit monitoring options you'll have and the additional services each company offers.
When you borrow money, finish paying back a loan or make other financial transactions that should appear on your credit report, your creditors submit that information to the credit reporting bureaus. However, a creditor isn't required to report to all three bureaus. Because this is the case, it's wise to look at your credit reports from all three agencies so that you can make sure that all three include correct, up-to-date information.
The credit report you receive should come with a credit score, which is what helps lenders determine how much of a financial risk you might pose. The Fair Isaac Corporation score, or FICO, is the most widely used scoring method. It draws on data from all three agencies' credit reports and uses an algorithm to determine your score. However, the FICO score isn't the only scoring model. Vantage and proprietary scores exist as well. Many of these scoring methods are similar to that of FICO.
Although the factors may be similar, the score can mean different things depending on the type of model you use, because the scales are different. A FICO score ranges between 300 and 850, while a Vantage score is between 501 and 990. A 799 score in the FICO model is terrific, but a 799 score in the Vantage model is average, which means you'd end up with a higher interest rate. When you look at your credit score, be sure that you know which model has generated that score.
Credit monitoring is a separate feature from obtaining a credit report that any of the best credit report sites we reviewed can do for you. Credit monitoring services provide you with alerts when something on your report or your score changes. This doesn't mean you can view your credit reports and score an unlimited number of times, though. Typically, the most frequently that alerts come is once a month. Using a credit monitoring service doesn't ding your credit score.
In addition to your credit report and credit score, you can take advantage of additional services through many of these credit report providers. Some of these services include lost wallet protection, security freezes and identity theft insurance coverage.
Finding a comprehensive credit report with the type of score you need can be difficult. Whether you're trying to determine which credit report is best, to obtain a credit report or for a credit monitoring service, you'll find the information you need here.
At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don't Have To.™