How Can I Check My Credit Score Online?

CHRIS H. | July 9, 2024

Do you know what your credit score is? When was the last time checked? Have you ever? 

You may be surprised that the answer to these questions for many people is—no idea, can’t remember, and I don’t think so. And this is quite unfortunate, as your credit score holds far more power than you might realize. Further, knowing your credit score is advantageous because it can help you with your overall financial planning, including budgeting and retirement planning. After all, how do you know if you need to improve your credit score, if you don’t know what it is in the first place? 

This article is designed to help you understand the importance of your credit score, what goes into it, and how to check it online. After all, whether you are applying for short-term loans or want to apply for a mortgage, your credit score plays a seriously important role. 

A credit report showing a good credit score of 765

Understanding Your Credit Score

Let’s start with the basics—just what is a credit score? A credit score is a number that lenders use to determine how reliable you are when managing and repaying debt. It typically ranges from 300 to 850. A higher score means you're seen as a lower risk, which can be very beneficial.

Here are some factors that influence your credit score:

  • Payment History: How timely you have been with your payments in the past.
  • Credit Utilization: How much of your available credit you're actually using.
  • Length of Credit History: How long you've had credit.
  • New Credit: How many credit accounts or loans you've recently opened.
  • Types of Credit: The variety of credit accounts you hold, such as credit cards, mortgages, and car loans.

Of all of these factors, the two most important are your payment history and credit utilization. They represent 65% of the total weight of the score. Failing to make a payment can have serious consequences, causing your score to drop 100 or more points easily. And, as far as credit utilization, keeping your balance to credit limit at 30% or less can also help.

Why a Good Credit Score Matters

Having a good credit score is crucial because it impacts several important areas of your financial life:

  • Lower Interest Rates: Better scores often qualify you for lower interest rates on loans and credit cards, which means you pay less over time.
  • Eligibility for Loans/Credit Lines: A higher score increases your chances of being approved for new credit. This means more favorable loan terms, too.
  • Housing Opportunities: Many landlords check credit scores when renting apartments. And, your credit score will seriously influence the interest rate you can get when applying for a mortgage.
  • Employment Opportunities: Some employers check credit scores as part of the job application process, especially for positions that involve financial responsibilities.

Differences Between Free vs. Paid Credit Score Services 

At Cash Store, we recommend that you check your credit score regularly—at least once every three months. This can help you identify errors and ensure that you have not missed anything. Further, it can help alert you in the event of identity theft, which happens far more often than we would like.

But just how do you check your credit score? Well, you can do this in one of two primary ways. The first is to check your score for free; the other option is to use a paid credit score service. Of course, free probably sounds like the way to go, and there are a bunch of benefits tied to this that we’ll talk about shortly. But, there is also something to be said about the various paid options.

Free Services

Free credit score services provide a basic overview of your credit status without cost. Typically, these services will give you access to your credit score and some aspects of your credit report. They are great for a quick check to see where you stand. Many credit card companies and financial institutions offer these free services to their customers, which is a convenient way to keep tabs on your credit health.

Paid Services

When you sign up for paid credit score services, you generally receive more detailed information and additional features. These may include credit monitoring, which alerts you to any changes in your credit report, and identity theft protection, which offers tools and support if your personal information is compromised. These services often provide in-depth analysis and advice tailored to improve your credit score.

Choosing Between Free and Paid Services

When deciding whether to use a free or paid credit score service, consider the following factors:

  • Accuracy: Paid services might access more comprehensive data, offering a more accurate picture of your credit status.
  • Frequency of Updates/Reporting: If you require more frequent updates, paid services often provide them, helping you monitor any changes closely.
  • Reporting Integration: Paid services might offer more sophisticated reporting features for those who need to share their credit information with third parties, such as potential landlords or employers.

Understanding these differences will help you choose the right service according to your needs and financial goals.

Hundred dollar bills, a calculator, and a toy car atop a credit report

How to Check Your Credit Score Online

Now that you are armed with some intelligence behind those free and paid options, just how do you check your credit score online? The great news is that this is far easier than you think.

Start by checking with your primary bank or credit card carrier to see if they offer access to your credit score. In fact, taking a few minutes to poke around the online dashboard for your account might show you a link that already exists, taking you to the information you want. If you don’t have a free service available to you through an existing platform, the next option is to check your score with one of the three credit bureaus. 

  • Experian: Provides comprehensive credit reports and scores, often used by lenders. Access your credit score here.
  • Equifax: Offers detailed credit reports and scores, with additional identity protection services. Access your credit score here.
  • TransUnion: Supplies credit scores and reports, and tools for credit monitoring. Access your credit score here.

If these options don't suit you, additional services are available, such as AnnualCreditReport.com and Credit Karma. AnnualCreditReport.com is the only federally authorized source for free annual credit reports from the three major bureaus. Credit Karma offers free credit score updates and monitoring services, which can be especially helpful for tracking your credit health over time.

Accessing Your Credit Score Online

To check your credit score online, follow these steps:

Create an Account

  • Choose a secure and reputable site. It’s important to ensure the safety of your personal information.
  • Provide basic information such as your name, address, and Social Security number to create an account. This information is used to verify your identity and retrieve your credit details.

Access Your Credit Report

  • Once your account is set up, navigate the website or app to locate the section where your credit report and score are displayed.
  • Most sites offer guidance on interpreting your credit report, which can help you understand the factors influencing your score.
  • Consider downloading or printing your report for future reference, which can be useful for tracking changes over time and disputing any inaccuracies.

These steps will guide you in regularly monitoring your credit status, helping you maintain a healthy financial profile.

Check Your Credit Score Online Today

Knowing about your credit score is just one of those things we need to do as part of our financial responsibilities. If you don’t know your score, take the time to check it now. And if your score needs a boost, start taking the appropriate steps to see it grow. We promise—a high credit score will give you access to better loan terms, lower interest rates, and higher loan limits in the future.

Once you’ve got a handle on your credit, apply for your loan with Cash Store today.

The content on this page provides general consumer information or tips. It is not financial advice or guidance. Each person’s circumstances are unique. The Cash Store may update this information periodically. This information may also include links or references to third-party resources or content. We do not endorse the third-party or guarantee the accuracy of this third-party information. There may be other resources that also serve your needs.

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