Even if you don’t have credit cards, you have a credit history as long as you have at least one loan taken in out in your name. And that means you need credit monitoring.
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.
It sounds a little counterintuitive. Why would you need a monitoring service for a financial tool you don’t even use?
You might not purchase with plastic, but you may still have a mortgage, a few auto loans, student loans, and personal loans that you may be taking out to do things like renovating or even investing. And with that in mind, you can use credit monitoring to be strategic with loans just like you would with credit cards.
Credit monitoring can mean better lending terms
Staying away from credit cards can be a smart financial decision – especially if you’re easily tempted into spending or like to shop on impulse. But avoiding any open credit lines, including loans, can be really difficult.
While most traditional loans have much lower interest rates than the majority of credit cards, you still need to maximize your credit rating to make sure you can save money over the life of each loan. Consider that most loans involve larger sums of money that usually get paid off over a period of years or even decades.
Fact: You pay $139,883.68 in total interest charges over the life of a $150,000 mortgage at 5% APR.
So in some ways, it’s even more critical to make sure you maximize your credit score before you apply for a major loan.
Credit monitoring helps protect your identity
A credit monitoring service always serves two individual and entirely separate financial needs. The first is helping you build credit to strategically maximize your credit score. The other purpose is for identity theft protection.
So even if you don’t use a credit card, if your identity gets stolen then a thief may decide to open a few credit cards in your name. Credit monitoring services serve the double purpose of allowing you to watch for suspicious activity following identity theft.
How to start monitoring your credit
To get started, learn about how credit monitoring works and your credit monitoring options. Every consumer is entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax). However, this may not feel like enough if you are actively trying to improve your credit or keep an eye out for identity theft. Free credit monitoring tools like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame can give you more frequent updates, but don’t have as much information as paid tools. A paid credit monitoring tool like SmartCredit® can help you monitor changes in your credit, track how your spending could affect it, and argue the negative information that brings your score down.
Article last modified on September 28, 2021. Published by Debt.com, LLC