Knowing that you should check your credit score is only half the battle. You also have to ask yourself, “When should I check my credit score?” You can check your credit score at any time you want and you are able to check multiple different versions of your credit score for free. It helps to note that checking your own credit doesn’t hurt your score. Even though you are able to check your score for free at any time, you don’t want to drive yourself crazy checking it every day.
Checking Credit Reports Versus Credit Scores
There is a difference between your credit score and checking your credit report. A credit report gives details about credit activity, including your payment history and opened and closed accounts. Your credit score is a number that is calculated based on information in the credit report. A credit score gives a lender an idea of how risky you may be. A higher score shows that you are less risky to a lender. Checking your credit report won’t affect your score.
How Often Is Your Credit Score Updated?
There is no need to go crazy checking your credit score every day since credit reports won’t be updated every day. A credit report must be created and requested and then that report is scored. It can be more helpful to instead ask yourself if something has changed in your credit report since the last time you checked your score. There can be many things that affect a credit score, including applying for a new credit account, opening or closing an account, a credit card company sending updates to credit bureaus with the more recent account or payment information, or collection agencies reporting collection accounts in your name.
If you have gotten in the habit of checking your credit score then you can see that it goes up and down often. The changes could be due to one of the above factors. Credit scores also use many time-related attributes when determining your score, such as how long it’s been since something negative was added to your credit report, as well as the average age of your credit accounts. Due to this, the passage of time leads to a change in your credit score even if the other items remain the same.
How Often Should You Check Your Credit Score?
Even though your score may not be updated all the time unless there are changes, you should check it regularly. At the very minimum, you need to check before applying for any credit, whether it’s a credit card, home loan, or auto loan. This way, you can make sure that there aren’t any problems that could make it harder for you to get approved. Be sure to check at least a few months in advance to give you some time to fix anything that could be hurting your score.
You should be definitely checking your credit report at least once a year. The credit report will provide the information used to calculate your score so you need to pay attention to anything you don’t recognize. If you do find something out of place, make sure you get it checked out.
Checking Your Score Doesn’t Hurt Your Credit
You are able to check your score whenever you want because checking your own credit reports doesn’t hurt your score. After a lender checks your score then your scores may have lowered a few points. This may have made you concerned that checking your own reports can lower your score but you shouldn’t be worried. When you do this yourself, it’s known as a soft inquiry. When a lender checks your credit, it will be a hard inquiry. A soft inquiry doesn’t negatively affect your score at all. Hard inquiries happen when a potential lender checks so a hard inquiry can negatively impact the score. Hard inquiries mean that you are likely taking on new financial obligations and trying to get loans. Multiple hard inquiries within a short time frame have more of a potential to lower your score. Certain credit scoring models have determined that opening multiple credit accounts in a shorter time frame means a greater credit risk.
How to Check Your Credit Score
In the past, it used to be much harder to check a credit score for free but it has become much easier. Most lenders will use the FICO score when making credit decisions so this is the one that you want to check. Even with a FICO score, some lenders may use a different version of the score, such as an industry-specific one, but this way you still have a good idea of where your credit stands.
Even though checking once a year is recommended, more monitoring can be a smart choice since it’s much easier to spot problems early on and take action.