How Many Times Can I Check My Credit?
5-minute readMarch 29, 2021
You know that your credit score is an important number: Lenders rely on it to determine if you qualify for loans or credit cards. They study credit scores, too, to determine the interest rates they charge borrowers. In general, the higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate and the more likely you are to qualify for a loan or credit card.
It’s important, then, to monitor your credit score and credit reports. Doing so will let you know before you apply for a loan or credit card if your credit is strong or if you need to take steps to improve it.
But how can you check your credit? And will doing so cause your credit score to fall?
The good news: You can check your credit without hurting your score. And gaining access to both your three-digit credit score and your three credit reports has become an easier, and less costly, process.
Credit Reports And Credit Scores Are Not The Same
It’s important to understand the difference between your credit reports and your credit score.
You have three credit reports, one each maintained by the national credit bureaus of Experian™, Equifax® and TransUnion®. Each report lists your open credit accounts and loans and how much you owe on each of them. The reports also list any recent late or missed payments, bankruptcies, accounts that have been sent to collection, foreclosures and other financial missteps.
The information contained in your credit reports is important because it makes up your three-digit credit score. You have many credit scores, but the most important one, and the one used by most lenders, is your FICO® Score. This score ranges from 300 – 850, with lenders considering any score of 740 or higher to be excellent.
Your score will rise or fall depending on your financial behavior. Pay your credit card bill 30 days or more past its due date, and your score will fall. Run up too much credit card debt and it will fall again. But what if you make your payments on time and pay down your credit card debt? Your score will rise.
You can check your credit reports and your credit score. Both require a different process.
Checking Your Credit Reports
You are entitled to one free copy of your three credit reports once a year. You can get these reports – one each from Equifax, TransUnion and Experian – by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.
It’s important to order these three reports annually to better understand what lenders see when you apply for new credit cards or loans. Checking your credit reports is also a good way to fight identity theft: You can study the reports to make sure no one has taken out credit card accounts or loans in your name.
You should study your reports for errors as well. Maybe one of your reports lists a missed payment on your auto loan from 3 years ago. You know you’ve never missed a payment.
If you report that mistake to the offending credit bureau – and have documentation to prove your claim – you can get that missed payment off your credit report. This could provide an immediate boost to your credit score.
You can check your credit reports as often as you like. Just remember that the credit bureaus are only obligated to send you free reports once each year. If you want to check your reports more often, you might have to pay the bureaus.
There is a loophole, though. As part of a court settlement following Equifax’s big data breach in 2017, consumers are eligible to receive six additional free credit reports from Equifax, in addition to the one free report the bureau provides, each year starting in 2020. You’ll qualify for these six added free reports each year through 2027.
How Often Should I Check My Credit Score?
Checking your credit scores is a bit more complicated. That’s because Fair Isaac Corporation – the company behind the FICO credit score – and the three credit bureaus are not required to provide you with your FICO credit score for free. If you want to check your score through these channels, you’ll have to pay.
For instance, you can check your score through myFICO.com by signing up for a monthly $39.95 subscription. This will give you your FICO Scores from all three credit bureaus. For a lower monthly fee, you can sign up with myFICO.com to access your FICO Score from just one of the credit bureaus.
It is possible, though, to get your FICO score for free depending on your bank or credit card provider, thanks to the FICO Score Open Access program. Under this program, more than 200 financial institutions provide their customers with free access to their FICO Scores.
According to myFICO.com, more than 300 million consumer accounts now have access to FICO Scores through this program. Financial institutions such as Wells Fargo, SallieMae, Royal Credit Union, Discover and Commerce Bank all participate in this program. You can learn more about this program here.
Your bank or credit card provider might offer you access to a free credit score even if it doesn't participate in this program. However, the score it provides you might not be an official FICO Score. It might be a version of the VantageScore®, which was developed by the three credit bureaus.
Most lenders don't rely on this score when making lending decisions. However, if your VantageScore is high, the odds are that your FICO Score is strong, too.
When you receive your next credit card or bank statement, then, look for an option to check your credit score. Make sure you know which score you are getting but understand that a high score is a good sign, no matter if you're viewing a FICO Score or a version of the VantageScore.
You can also visit Rocket Homes Real Estate LLC to get your free TransUnion credit report and a free copy of your VantageScore 3.0 credit score.
You can check your credit score as often as you’d like. There are no limits.
How Many Times Can Your Credit Be Checked Before It Affects Your Score?
Here’s the good news: Checking your credit score or credit report won’t hurt your credit score. That’s because of the difference between hard pulls and soft pulls of your credit.
When a lender, credit card provider or some other creditor checks your credit when you apply for a loan or credit card, that’s known as a hard pull. Hard pulls will cause your credit score to fall, though usually only by 5 to 10 points, and usually for just a short period of time. It’s a great idea to check your credit reports to see if there are any potential errors and remove them.
When you check your own credit, though, it’s known as a soft pull. A soft pull has no impact on your score. This means that you can check your credit reports or credit score as often as you’d like without repercussion.
If you’re wondering about your credit, visit Rocket HomesSM today to get a free copy of your VantageScore 3.0. This will let you know how strong your credit is. You can also visit our credit and personal finance learning centers for more information.
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