Start Your Year Off Right by Checking Your Credit
Whether your New Year’s resolution is to stay on top of your finances, or you see a new home or vehicle in your future, performing a regular credit check is a great place to start. Knowing what your credit history looks like helps you prepare for the year ahead with more confidence.
To start your credit check-up, you’ll need to pull your credit reports from the three major credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can do this once a year for free at annualcreditreport.com. Through April 2021, you can pull your free credit reports weekly using that same website.
Once you’ve pulled your report, here’s what you can expect to see:
- Your current and former names, address(es) and employers, as well as other personal information like your birthdate and social security number.
- Information about any credit cards or loans you have, including the business that issued the loan, the balance, the credit limit, and your payment history.
- A list of entities that have obtained your report within a certain time. These could be lenders, landlords or employers.
- Any bankruptcies or other public record information related to your finances.
Look over your report and check for errors. If you find any mistakes, contact the credit bureau to dispute the claim. Removing inaccuracies from your credit report can positively impact your credit score immediately.
Keep in mind that your credit report and your credit score are different. Your credit score is a 3-digit number calculated from the information on your credit report. It can be helpful to know your score, but unlike your credit report, there is no free annual credit score. Different businesses can provide you with your scores though. Some of these services may offer this for free or they may charge a fee. Be sure to research your options before deciding where to get your score.
Your credit is a critical part of your financial reputation. If you’re looking for ways to improve it, consider the following tips:
- Make sure to pay your bills on time.
- When it comes to credit cards, pay more than your minimum payment due, and pay off your balance in full each month when possible.
- Use less than 30 percent of your credit limit – this goes for credit cards and lines of credit.
Understanding your credit reputation is an important step toward your financial goals. Start your year off on the right foot by checking your credit today!