Keeping a close eye on your credit score can help you make sure you'll stand the best possible chance of qualifying for any financial products you want to apply for. It's wise to take a peek at your credit profile whenever you're thinking of taking out a large loan such as a mortgage or a car loan. If you're applying for a joint financial product with your partner, you should both check out your credit scores with all three of the major credit bureaus.
You can access your credit information from the three major credit bureaus for free once a year, but you'll have to pay a small fee if you want to take a look at your credit score. To get your free credit file disclosure, visit AnnualCreditReport.com. Free credit reports requested online will be viewable immediately upon authentication of your identity. You'll be given the option to pay to see your credit score, once you've passed security checks.
If you've already ordered your free report and viewed your credit score through AnnualCreditReport.com but need to take a look at your files again, you can pay for one-off access to your credit profiles and scores with Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can buy your credit reports and scores from all three of these major bureaus. Look out for trial offers that allow you access to your files for free for a limited period. This typically involves signing up for the credit bureaus' products, but you usually won't pay anything as long as you cancel before the end of your trial.
Credit score-monitoring services from credit bureaus let you keep an eye on your score and potential spending power in exchange for a monthly fee. As well as giving you access to your score, these services will typically inform you when a search of your credit file is conducted and will offer identity-theft insurance. Some also allow you to freeze your credit file until you want to apply for a financial product that requires a credit check, making it more difficult for identity thieves to commit fraud using your details.
Be sure to check your credit reports and scores with all three of the major credit bureaus. Just because one is in order and error-free, that doesn't mean they all are. An incorrect entry on one of your profiles could bring your score down and prevent you from qualifying for a financial product that you'd otherwise be able to take out. If you find errors on one of your reports, contact that bureau to get things put right.
Michael Roennevig has been a journalist since 2003. He has written on politics, the arts, travel and society for publications such as "The Big Issue" and "Which?" Roennevig holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the Surrey Institute and a postgraduate diploma from the National Council for the Training of Journalists at City College, Brighton.