Yes, You Actually Can Get Your Credit Score For Free
I’ve never understood why the credit score and credit monitoring business is so huge. They’ve attempted to make sexy something that is a) not sexy at all and b) quite straightforward.
If you always — or even mostly — pay your bills on time, don’t have any delinquent accounts tarnishing your record, and you keep your credit utilization ratio low (by low, I mean no more than 30% to 35% of your available credit is being used)… you will have a good credit score.
Now, if you have payments 60 days or more past due, or you have other forgotten obligations (a car loan you’ve defaulted on, etc.), or your credit utilization ratio is very high… you will not have a good credit score.
Now that you know why a credit score might be useful, don’t pay for something you can get for free: I recommend using CreditKarma.com — signing up on their secure form took me only a minute, and within a few clicks I had access to my actual credit score. (Note: I have no financial relationship with CreditKarma.)
Additionally, CreditKarma has an intuitive “credit simulator” tool which lets you see how certain actions — such as applying for a new credit card, or paying down an old balance — might impact your score.
And yes, the credit score service over at CreditKarma is actually free and legit. So far, they haven’t asked for my credit card number; they haven’t tried to “up-sell” me into any sort of monthly credit monitoring service I don’t need; they aren’t annoying.
What you don’t know about credit scores could hurt
Paul Sakuma / AP
A bad score could cost you a loan. That’s why it’s so important for you to understand how credit scoring works.
Your credit score, which is based on your credit history, can have an enormous effect – positive or negative – on your life. A good score could save you thousands of dollars a year in interest. A bad score could cost you a loan. That’s why it’s so important for you to understand how credit scoring works.
A new surveyby the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and VantageScore Solutions shows overall knowledge about credit scores has improved significantly in the past year. But the results also make it clear there’s still a long way to go.
One of the most troubling findings: more than half the respondents still think, incorrectly, that a person’s age and marital status are used to calculate credit score. One-fifth (21 percent) incorrectly believe ethnic origin is a factor.
“Your ethnicity isn’t even on your credit report, so it’s impossible for it to be a factor in computing your credit score,” explains John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education at SmartCredit.com. “Your credit score is not influenced by anybody but you. Your own actions completely determine the score.”