You can check your credit score from your credit bureau, lenders, and other credit service providers for free as well as by payment.
Lenders use your credit score as an indicator of your trustworthiness. It represents your credit history in digit form.
Let’s dive in to know what is a credit score and how you can check it for free.
What is A Credit Score?
A credit score is a three-digit number assigned to reflect the creditworthiness of a borrower. It represents your credit history with a number ranging from 300 to 850.
Lenders use the credit score to assess your creditworthiness when evaluating your loan applications. A higher credit score means a better credit profile and lower risks for lenders.
Credit bureaus maintain a record of your previous credit transactions and loans. The way you repaid your previous loans and managed credit cards will impact your credit score.
Then two credit rating agencies FICO and VantageScore assign a credit score to your credit history. Most lenders will look into both of these scores but the difference should be minor as their primary sources are the same.
In a nutshell, your credit score is the representation of your credit history and lenders would want to assess your risk profile when you apply for a short term loan.
How Can I Check My Credit Score?
You can check your credit score through free and paid resources.
However, getting a credit report is different from checking your credit score.
Here are a few ways you can use to check your credit score.
Three credit bureaus Experian, Equifax, and Transunion offer a free credit report to their customers every 12 months.
You can check your credit score for a nominal fee with these credit bureaus at any time as well.
Large credit card companies and banks have started listing borrowers’ credit scores under their loan statements as well.
For example, lenders like Discover, Barclays Card US, Citi Bank, Chase, and Bank of America offer FICO scores for free.
Credit Score Services
Many online services provide credit scores as well. Some of these services charge for providing a credit report or a credit score check.
You can search for some online service providers offering a free credit score as well.
A non-profit counselor or a HUD-Counselor can offer you a free credit score as well. So, if you are working with one of them, you can check your credit score for free.
By law, you are entitled to a free credit report every 12 months. You can get this free annual copy from either of the three credit bureaus or by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.
There are multiple ways to check your credit score and credit report for free.
Can I Check My Credit Score For Free?
Yes, there are several methods to get a free credit score.
- All three credit bureaus provide an annual credit report for free.
- You can check it for free at annualcreditreport.com as well.
- Many large banks and credit card providers have started offering free credit score checks as well.
- If you have any dispute, a fraud alert, or any other permitted reason, you are entitled to a free credit report as well.
- You can check it through a non-profit or HUD counselor for free as well.
Can I Check My Credit Score Without Hurting It?
Yes, you can check your credit score without hurting it as many times as you want.
If you check your credit score personally, it will be marked as a soft inquiry and will not affect your credit score nor it will appear on your credit report.
When lenders check your credit score, it is considered a hard inquiry. A hard inquiry may hurt your credit score by 3-5 points.
What are The Factors That Determine My Credit Score?
There are five major contributors to your final credit score. Each of these factors has a different weightage in the calculation.
Payment History – 35%
This is the most influential segment of your score including on-time payments, late payments, and default cases against your name.
Amounts Owed – 30%
Your revolving credit such as a credit card or a home line of equity affects the credit utilization rate. In turn, that changes the amount owed to the lenders.
Your total remaining balance of all debts is the second-most influential point here.
Credit History – 15%
The length of the credit history and the average age of each credit account make up your credit history segment.
The longer and more established your credit history, the better it is for your credit score.
Credit Mix – 10%
It is the number of credit accounts for different types of loans. For example, a revolving credit, a fixed-rate loan, a variable interest rate loan, and so on.
New Credit – 10%
New credit accounts incur only hard inquiries that bother other lenders. They may also want to see any recent loan rejections in this section as well.
What is a Bad Credit Score?
Your credit score will be any number from 300 to 850. FICO and other credit rating agencies categorize this span into different analytical categories.
A bad or poor credit score is considered anything from 300 to 579. Other categories include:
Very Good: 740-799
Can I Improve My Credit Score?
Yes, you can improve your credit score if you plan well. However, there is no quick fix to improving your credit score as it is a long-term strategy.
Here are a few key points to remember if you want to improve your credit score.
- Build your credit history and maintain a clean one. Opening too many new accounts quickly will shorten the average age of credit accounts.
- Make all your payments on time. A reliable payment record improves your payment history weightage incredibly. Late payments affect your credit score negatively.
- Keep your credit utilization ratio under control. Ideally, you should keep it around 30% and it shouldn’t increase beyond 50%.
- Check your credit report annually for errors.
- Do not open too many credit accounts at the same time.
- When shopping for new loans, use prequalifications or apply within 15-45 days to avoid multiple hard inquiries.