Credit Q&A: “How often to check your credit report?”
Credit reporting seems to be all the rage these days, now that a ton of companies have realized how profitable the fear of the unknown can be.
Now don’t get me wrong – staying on top of your credit history is extremely important, especially when it comes time to apply for a credit card or a loan.
But it may have been blown out of proportion just a bit in recent years.
There are a ton of services out there nowadays to keep track of your credit, such as credit monitoring, which tracks it continuously, and free credit reports, which allow you to access your credit report for free for a week or so, before converting into full blown credit monitoring programs that you pay for.
Choosing which is right for you will depend on your unique situation.
Check Your Credit Report Before Applying for a Major Loan
As I mentioned earlier, if you’re planning on applying for an important loan in the near-future, knowing your credit score is pretty darn important.
After all, if it’s lower than you anticipated, you may be completely out of luck and stuck without a Plan B. And even if it is high enough to qualify for the loan, you may not receive the most favorable terms, which put simply, will cost you money.
Keeping an eye on your credit report is also important to ensure there isn’t any identity theft going on, as any recent credit inquiries and new lines of credit will show up.
That said, if you’re simply interested in making sure no funny business is going on, a free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com will probably be sufficient.
The program allows you to order a free credit report from all three credit bureaus once every 12 months.
Get a Credit Report Every Four Months
So you could order one credit report from each bureau every four months to do your own type of credit monitoring, though you’re still leaving plenty of gaps.
Just remember that this service doesn’t provide a free credit score, and the information may vary between bureaus, so it’s not full proof.
If you plan on applying for something like an auto loan or a mortgage in coming months (or weeks), signing up for a free credit score (trial offer) may be the best move.
You can always cancel during the trial period without incurring any charges, but you’ll need to provide a credit card number and your social security number to get access.
And there’s always the option of using Credit Sesame and/or Credit Karma, both of which give you a quasi-Fico score and some decent credit report info to ensure nothing out of the ordinary is happening.
They’ll send you credit score updates monthly, which will indicate if any major changes have taken place. These alerts should tip you off to anything less than kosher.