Important Update: Bureaus Offer Free Weekly Reports Through April 2022
In light of the unprecedented financial crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the credit bureaus have expanded free credit report access. You can now download your credit report from each bureau once per week through annualcreditreport.com.
We recommend taking advantage of these free weekly reports to check your credit often during this crisis, so you can avoid mistakes.
Find your way into a better credit score.
If you want to be financially successful, you need the best credit score possible. Excellent credit means lower interest rates, the best competitive terms, and an easier time qualifying on new loans and lines of credit.
But how do you build credit effectively? And how do you know that the steps that you’re taking are having the right impact?
Credit monitoring is the right answer to these questions.
Finding the right credit monitoring service for you
First you need to choose the right credit monitoring service for you. Not all credit monitoring services are the same. There are free services, paid services through each individual credit bureau or through an independent third-party company.
Here are some guidelines you should use to make sure you find the right service:
- Make sure the service you choose provides daily monitoring of all three of your credit reports.
- Make sure it also provides scores from the three bureaus, and not just one score.
- Choose a service that offers customizable credit alerts. Ideally, you should be able to see credit alerts via email or text or in whatever method is most convenient for you.
- Find a service that offers extras that are useful for you – balancing cost with the level of service. This may include a credit score simulator, and additional credit scores like your insurance-based credit scores for home and auto.
Creditors check information from all 3 credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax & TranUnion) so you should, too. With a subscription to something like SmartCredit®, you can keep track of your score and master the different elements that can help you improve it. This credit monitoring software even enables you to keep an eye on your spending and take specific actions to improve your credit report. A premium subscription allows you to get a monthly 3-bureau credit report update. Free credit monitoring apps like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame can’t do that – they only track your VantageScore 3.0 from 2 of the bureaus. This doesn’t give you the best view of your credit situation.
What to expect once you sign up
Once you choose the service that fits your lifestyle the best, here is what you can expect and how you can use credit monitoring to help you build a better credit score:
- Sign up and start looking through the information provided. See where your credit scores are and take note of any negative items on your credit reports that are driving your scores down. Set up your automatic credit alerts so you can monitor activity on your accounts.
- Depending on the service you get, the platform may have recommendations for achieving a better credit score already built in. You can follow these steps or refer to outside resources about how to build better credit.
- Start taking steps to improve your credit. Make sure to keep an eye on your credit monitoring platform so you can make sure the steps you take have the positive impact that you wanted. SmartCredit makes it easy with their action buttons. Otherwise, you have to contact your creditors individually.
- If you choose to keep the service, you can use it to make strategic decisions about when it’s the right time to get a credit card or take out a loan. Always check your monitoring platform before you apply for any new line of credit. If the platform has any notes of negative items impacting your credit, make sure to take care of those and follow any tips it provides to help maximize your credit.
Can I build better credit without credit monitoring?
Of course, you can take steps to improve your credit without knowing your specific credit scores or keeping daily track of what your scores are doing.
But unfortunately, at best you’ll only be able to make educated guesses about what you can do to improve your credit and how much of a positive impact those actions have.
Granted, doing something positive for your credit should never have the opposite effect, but it will be almost impossible to estimate how much of an impact something has without any reference to your score. This is why credit monitoring is so valuable because you get a baseline score that you can monitor for changes and progress.
Article last modified on September 28, 2021. Published by Debt.com, LLC