To many, a credit score is a mysterious and frightening thing. Even to those familiar with them, they can be frustrating in some instances. But with simple and constant effort over time, one can bring one’s credit score up from even the worst doldrums. To make it simpler, I’ll outline it step by step in individual articles.
Step One: Learn your current credit score
There are many reporting companies who are willing to take your money in order to deliver you your credit information. But before you do that, you can (and should) get your free credit report from each of the three main agencies, but they don’t include your numerical (FICO) credit score. To get your free credit report, go to http://www.annualcreditreport.com – this is the official site for the free reports from the credit agencies. More on this later.
When shopping between companies to get your numerical (FICO) credit score, there are a few things you’ll want to consider:
1. Look for reports that contain all three credit agencies – There are three main credit agencies that report your credit information, and they all can have different information. You might decide to check your credit more than once for each credit agency when you first start out improving your credit. You should get the most for your money and find a report company which will deliver you information from all three of these agencies. These agencies are: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
2. Look for reports that will list your FICO score for all three credit agencies – Some reporting companies may give you your credit information, but will not also give you your FICO (a credit score developed by Fair Isaac Corporation). Your FICO score is your at-a-glance way of measuring how good your credit rating is, so make certain to find a credit reporting company that will deliver FICO scores from all three agencies as well. After all, you can get the other information for free once a year through http://www.annualcreditreport.com.
3. Consider your financial situation and what you can afford – Shopping for pricing is a no brainer. However, you will also want to consider whether you want to pay for a one-time picture now to compare with another paid one-time picture later, or whether you want to purchase a subscription to a credit service in order to watch how your credit changes from month to month.
The cost of a credit report can change from company to company. Sometimes you can get access to your credit scores via a credit card company that you already do business with. Consider taking that step as you can sometimes ask for lower prices for their credit service and actually get it. That will take a phone call and some polite discussion with your friendly customer service representatives. If they say no, you haven’t lost anything, but if they say yes then be sure to thank them.
Some credit card companies may offer access to your FICO score for free as part of their services. There are also free services out there such as www.creditkarma.com which can be a good resource for credit information.
There is a lot to improving your credit score, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. In these Finance articles, I am going to give you advice using what I learned by trial and error and by reading many finance articles. Remember that time and patience are an integral part of improving your credit.