Knowing your credit score and understanding how it’s calculated is an important part of maintaining healthy credit. Your score is an important factor in whether you’re approved for a loan and what interest rate you’ll receive. It can also play a role in rental applications and when job hunting. But it’s important to know that your credit score may not be the only thing a lender looks at to make a lending decision. They may look at a variety of factors, including your credit report.
That’s why regularly reviewing your report is a good idea. “Consistently monitoring your credit report can make it easier for you to notice changes and help you track progress toward your credit goals,” says Margaret Poe, head of consumer credit education at TransUnion.
So, whether you’re looking to buy a new home, a car, or just want to know where you stand, we’ve rounded up some tools and resources to help you monitor and manage your credit score for free.
Before we dig in, let’s look at what credit monitoring services do. Unfortunately, credit monitoring services don’t prevent identity theft or fraud, and they don’t fix errors on your credit report. But, they do notify you of critical changes to your credit such as:
Using a credit monitoring service can be the first line of defense in detecting any errors, including potential fraud. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there were 1.4 million reports of identity fraud in the U.S. in 2020. Using a credit monitoring service can help you ensure the information being reported to the bureaus is accurate, identify serious problems such as theft, and make you aware of any outstanding debt that may be affecting your score.
Every year, you can request a free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. While your credit report will not include your actual credit score, it will show your bill payment history, current loans, debt, and other pertinent financial information. It’s important to look at your credit report to ensure everything is accurate.
If you see any errors, it’s imperative that you immediately report them directly with the credit reporting company. You can usually dispute errors by mail or online. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau provides several ways to dispute an error.
We’re committed to the financial well-being of our customers. So, when you have either a Check `n Go or Allied Cash Advance installment loan*, you’ll automatically have free access to the TransUnion CreditView Dashboard®* inside of P360. In addition to seeing your Vantage 3.0 credit score, the CreditView Dashboard® provides credit education, free credit alerts, and a score simulator. If you already have a Pocket360 account, log in and go directly to your Benefits & Rewards section. There, you’ll access the dashboard and set-up your TransUnion account.
Need to enroll in Pocket360? It’s simple and secure. Visit pocket360.com to learn more and get started today.
Companies like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame offer credit monitoring at your fingertips. You can create an online account, or download their mobile app, so you can keep an eye on your credit─ whenever, wherever.
Both Credit Karma and Credit Sesame are aggregators, meaning they pull their information from the main credit reporting agencies mentioned above. They both give you access to your credit scores, make recommendations based on your score and credit history, and alert you to changes.
The downside to these tools is that you’ll also be shown advertisements for other products such as credit cards or loans. These advertisements are pushed as recommendations to help you improve your score, and that’s how the companies make money off the tool. When a consumer like yourself decides to open one of the recommended credit cards, the company gets paid. If you can resist the temptation for opening another credit card or loan and getting another hard inquiry on your credit, then these tools might be perfect for you.
Depending on where you do business, some banks and credit card companies now offer free access to your credit score. So, check to make sure you’re taking advantage of that service if it’s provided. We found a list of some credit card issuers who make credit-monitoring services available to customers and noncustomers, alike. Each credit monitoring tool will differ. Some may only offer a brief, “big picture” overview, while others provide detailed insight. Either way, having access to manage and monitor your credit score will give you the information you need to work towards your financial goals.
*Must have a P360 to access to the TransUnion CreditView Dashboard. Availability restrictions apply as you must register for the service with TransUnion. Registration is not automatic in the P360 account you must confirm your registration with TransUnion through your P360 account.