Tracking your credit report is simple enough. You are guaranteed one free credit report from each major credit agency each year. The problem is with so many scams and breaches, once a year is simply not enough. Other options, both free and paid, exist and are simple to use. Since there are plenty of perfectly good apps and websites out there, why pay for a service? Before we get started, let’s define a few terms first.
- VantageScores look at “young” credit (less than 6 months old) with at least one account. Vantage 3.0 and 4.0 use a score of 300-850 with 850 the best. 700 is the minimum for a good credit rating.
- FICO scores include older credit. FICO uses the same scoring with 670 as the minimum score for a good credit rating.
Why Should You Monitor Your Credit Report?
Monitoring your credit might seem like a mundane task. After all, you only need good credit and a great FICO score when you are looking for loans or mortgages right? In reality, monitoring your credit report has never been more important!
First, mistakes do happen. Check to make sure all the information on your credit report is correct. Anything from the mis-spelling of your name to an old debt still clinging to life could damage your score.
Second, your credit report might indicate the first signs of identity theft. Look for any odd loans or credit cards that don’t look familiar to you.
You are entitled to one free credit report a year from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Try to stagger them out that you get one every four months. (for instance, TransUnion in January, Equifax in May, and Experian in September).
However, you should perform credit monitoring by checking your credit reports more frequently for signs of fraud or errors. There are a number of apps and services available. Some of the services, like Lifelock, Identity Guard, and Identity Force, are very costly. Others are free and offer similar services. Why pay for what you can find yourself?
Below is a list of apps and websites that are recommended by experts for tracking your credit score.
Mint is both an app and a website that can be used for budgeting, paying bills, and tracking your finances. It is a simple way to keep an eye on your finances while on the go. You will get a VantageScore on your Equity report. It doesn’t show a FICO score.
CreditKarma offers both an app and a website. You’ll get a FICO score based on two credit reporting agencies, TransUnion and Equifax. You’ll also get credit card utilization and payment history. You can also link your credit cards to the app so that you can track all your spending in one place. CreditKarma is simple to use and sends you emails if reports change.
The app/website has three different levels. The free level includes free monthly credit scores and credit monitoring. You’ll find self-service tools to correct errors, detect fraud, and fight identity theft. You can even get $50,000 in identity insurance at the free level.
Premium services include daily credit-score updates, monthly credit reports, SSN monitoring, $1 million in identity theft insurance, and dispute resolution services. Plans begin at $9.95 a month, which is far cheaper than other paid services available.
This app is the official FICO monitoring app and reflects the FICO score that is used by most US financial institutions. It is not free, although the download is. It can be very expensive to get all the bells and whistles that can be gathered through other venues. Basic plans start out at $19.95 a month, myFICO is probably best for someone with fraud and identity theft issues.
Discover Credit Scorecard
The app is available to you whether or not you have a discover card. You will get a monthly FICO score based on your TransUnion report. Discover cardholders can sign up for social security protection that can be invaluable.
CreditWise from Capital One
This app is also available for non-cardholders. You’ll get free credit monitoring and a weekly VantageScore 3.0 credit score based on your TransUnion credit report. You’ll get a simulator to see what will happen to your utilization ration (debt:credit) if you put large charges on your credit cards.
Cardholders can log in weekly to see an updated credit score and credit report.
MyCredit Guide from American Express
Like the other apps from credit card companies, you don’t need to be a cardholder. This is not a true app but rather a mobile optimized website. MyCredit Guide offers alerts if something affects your TransUnion credit report. It also includes a weekly Vantage 3.0 score based on TransUnion and a score simulator.
Experian CreditWorks Basic
The free version of the app allows access to your Experian credit report and FICO scores once a month. Since it is offered by Experian, it looks at your Experian credit report. The paid version includes credit monitoring.
Credit cards including Bank of America and Barclay offer free FICO scores based on TransUnion. Citi and Wells Fargo offer FICO scores based on Experian.
Your bank, credit union, or card issuers often will offer access to free VantageScores. VantageScores are a good start but are not as complete or correctable as a former credit report. Check with your bank to see what they offer.
Pacific Debt, Inc
If you’d like more information on debt settlement or have more than $10,000 in credit card debt that you can’t repay, contact Pacific Debt, Inc. We may be able to help you become debt free.
If you have more questions, contact one of our debt specialists. We offer a free consultation, and our debt experts will explain your options to you.