Keeping an eye on your credit is an important thing to do whether you have good credit, are trying to repair your credit, or are trying to build your credit for the first time. There are a plethora of websites and companies out there who will allow you access to your credit reports and scores….for a fee. Some sites don’t charge a fee initially but allow you to access your reports and scores if you sign up for a free trial for their credit monitoring services; eventually, you will either have to cancel the subscription or be automatically charged a monthly fee for continuing.
Luckily, the government has made a law that allows everyone one free copy of his or her credit report per year from each of the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Normally, these companies charge you a fee for each credit report of yours they generate. To get your free report (limit one per bureau per year), go to annualcreditreport.com and follow the instructions. Note that these are reports only and do not include scores.
The Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) is the industry standard for credit scores. A FICO score is the score that most lenders use to assess a potential borrower’s credit-worthiness. Though there are no free FICO scores (they are available for purchase from MyFICO.com), there are free alternate scores which serve as a good substitute.
Thanks to Credit Karma, consumers can now get access to their credit scores, for free, anytime, with no catch. They offer the TransUnion New Account Score, which is calculated by TransUnion and ranges from 300-850, just like FICO scores. Though this TransUnion score is not a true FICO score, it nonetheless is a “good enough” score for consumers to use.