I never like paying for something that I can get for free. I’ll discuss and highlight the methods I use to track and monitor my credit report and score.
Reports vs. Scores
On a basic level, there are two aspects to your credit: reports and scores. Your report shows all of your accounts, inquiries, loans, etc. Your score is a number (ranging from 300-800) that is based off of your report. The higher the score the better. If you’re applying for multiple credit cards, it is important to understand and track your credit reports and scores.
I’ll start with tools for credit reports. Keep in mind there are three different credit bureaus out there: Transunion (TU), Equifax (EQ), and Experian (EX). Each of these will have slightly different information. This is because when a bank or landlord pulls your credit they may only pull one or two of these bureaus. For instance, when I apply for a Chase credit card, I typically get a Equifax and Experian inquiry. Therefore, my Transunion report does not show the credit inquiry for that Chase credit card application. However, my Transunion report will show the actual credit card account. All this to say, it is important to me to track all three of these reports from the aforementioned bureaus.
Here are the tools I use to check my credit reports:
- Transunion Credit Report – Credit Karma
- Equifax Credit Report – Credit Karma
- Experian Credit Report – Experian Mobile App
Credit Karma and the Experian are both free to use. They earn their money be selling you additional features or affiliate links to credit cards.
There are several different ways to measure your credit score. These “ways to measure” are called credit scoring models. These models consist of names like: VantageScore, FAKE, TransRisk, etc. The list goes on and on. The main one you should be concerned with is FICO. Not to say the other ones aren’t important, but your FICO score is the one that banks typically use to make their approval decisions.
Many credit card companies offer you a free FICO credit score that updates monthly. Here are the ones I use to check my credit score with each credit bureau:
- Transunion Credit Score – Discover
- Equifax Credit Score – CitiBank
- Experian Credit Score – American Express
Thoughts on Credit Scores/Report
Remember your credit score is just a number. It can fluctuate from week to week and month to month depending on a variety of factors. You can have a 800 credit score, but what’s the point of having a high credit score if you’re not using it to obtain credit.
With that being said, it’s important to monitor your credit reports for possible identify theft or fraud. You also should know your credit score before applying for loans, credit cards, etc.