How often should you check your credit report?

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Your credit score is a vital number that creditors use when determining loan terms and interest rates. Landlords, utility companies and various other entities will also view your credit score before approving your application or deciding how much to charge you. 

Your credit report offers a far more detailed analysis of what makes up your credit score. Checking your credit report regularly can provide you with a better understanding of your financial status while helping you detect errors along the way. 

How often should you check your credit score?

Your credit score is the number that reflects your credit activity. It’s a simplified version of your credit report, and you can check it for free. You should check your credit score at least once per year, but it’s smart to check it more often if you are working hard to improve it, like in the situation of preparing to apply for a loan.

Why it’s important to check your credit report once a year

Checking a credit report is a good way to improve your score and detect errors. Credit reports reveal the types of credit activity that are affecting your score. You can see your debts and create a plan to pay them off. Consumers may find errors on their credit reports, and disputing them can increase their scores. Once the major credit bureaus remove an inaccurate detail, your score will likely rise.

Scenarios where you’ll want to review your credit report

Consumers can review a copy of their credit report every year for free, but every additional viewing requires a small fee. Strategically analyzing your credit report at optimal times will keep costs low or even nonexistent. Plus, you’ll have actionable information to improve your score.

You’re applying for a mortgage or a car loan

Lenders will always look at your credit score before giving you a loan. Even if you fulfill the credit score requirement, a higher credit score can help you secure a lower interest rate. Reviewing your credit report will help you discover opportunities to improve while also finding potential mistakes that you can then dispute.

Your identity’s been stolen

Unfortunately, your identity might be stolen, and thieves could decide to spend your money. Luckily, credit reports can help you detect fraudulent activity and pinpoint the thief’s location. For instance, your credit report might display unfamiliar addresses and account information, giving you additional details to identify and then stop the thief.

You’re getting a divorce 

Divorces can be messy, and creditors might add further complications to the mix. You may have debts that you and your partner filed jointly, but the lenders are still going to want you to pay back what you owe. If your former partner misses certain payments, it can impact your score as well. A credit report reveals which financial obligations will affect your credit score as opposed to which ones will not impact you. 

You’re changing jobs

Employers might look at your credit report to verify your identity, and some may look at your credit score, too. It’s possible to get fired for having a bad credit score since bad credit usually correlates with ineffective debt management skills. 

As such, some employers could view debt struggles as an indicator that an employee will struggle on the job. Checking your credit report before applying for jobs can help you determine if everything is accurate, while also providing you with insight into how you can boost your credit score.

How to check your credit report

Checking your credit report can help you strengthen your finances. You can use these resources to obtain a copy of your credit report.

Annualcreditreport.com

Consumers have the right to get a free credit report every year through annualcreditreport.com. You will have to pay for additional credit reports, but you won’t have to pay more than $13.50 for an additional report. You can look at your credit report once per year to avoid paying fees.

Financial institutions

Nearly every bank lets you view your credit score, but some will also let you take a complimentary look at your credit report. You can request a copy and inquire as to whether or not your bank will oblige. If your financial institution provides you with a report, you can also get one from annualcreditreports.com, meaning you will be able to view your credit report for free twice per year. 

Creditors

If a lender rejects your application, you can ask for their reasoning within 60 days of receiving the notice. The creditor will have to provide your credit report as well as all other information that influenced their decision. Using this strategy to get your credit report for free from a creditor can help you prepare in advance of your next loan application. 

Your credit report offers valuable insights 

A higher credit score will open more doors, but not everyone knows where to start. Credit reports let you discover opportunities to improve your credit. 

They provide a more detailed analysis than a credit score alone, and taking measures to dispute mistakes on your report can have an immediate impact on your report. Your credit report is a valuable resource to increase your credit score and strengthen your finances, so check it often enough to stay on top of your personal finances.

FAQs

How many times can you check your credit score?

You can check your credit score as often as you want. However, credit reports contain more information than just your credit score, but they can only be checked for free once per year, unless you pay a small fee.

When can I check my credit score?

You can check your credit score whenever you want to, and most banks let you see your credit score for free. A credit score is a glimpse into your credit report. 

Why should people check their credit report once per year?

Checking your credit report at least once per year can help you improve your score before you apply for a loan. It can also help you detect potential fraudulent activity.

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