How to check your credit score for free
If you have ever applied for a credit card, an auto loan, or other types of credit, then you have a credit report on file at the nation’s credit bureaus (Equifax®, Experian™, and TransUnion®).
Credit scores are calculated based on the information in your credit report. Credit reports do not contain credit scores, only the history of your credit payment or non-payment of reported accounts.
There are several ways to get your credit score, which we will discuss in this article. The best way to check your credit score is by using annualcreditreport.com.
At Credit Union of Southern California (CU SoCal), we make checking your credit score easier.
Call 866.287.6225 today to schedule a no-obligation consultation and learn about our home equity lines of credit, auto loans, personal loans, checking and savings accounts, and other banking products. As a full-service financial institution, we look forward to helping you with all your banking needs.
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How your credit score is calculated
Your credit payment history is recorded in credit reports that are maintained by credit bureaus, the most well-knowing being Equifax®, Experian™, and TransUnion®. If you’ve ever applied for a credit card or a loan, then you have a credit history on file with these agencies.
The most widely used credit scores are FICO® scores, which will range between 350 (high risk) and 850 (low risk). Lenders and creditors look at a person’s credit score when they apply for a loan or credit and use the risk factor to determine if you are credit worthy. The lower a person’s credit score, the more risk they are to a lender. People with a higher credit score are seen as less risk of defaulting on loan payment.
FICO uses five categories to calculate credit scores
The percentages in the parentheses reflect how important each of the categories is in determining how your FICO Scores is calculated. The importance of these categories in each individual’s score can be different. For example, scores for people who are new to credit and loans will be calculated differently than those with a longer credit history. As the information in your credit report changes, so does the evaluation of these factors in determining your FICO Scores.
Payment history (35%). This is the most important factor in a FICO Score. Payment history keeps track of whether you have been able to meet all your payments on time when payments are due. This can take into consideration your payments on credit cards, mortgage, car loan, student loans, medical bills, and other personal debt. The more consistently you complete your payments, the higher your score will be.
Amounts owed (30%). Having credit accounts and owing money on them doesn’t necessarily mean you are a high-risk borrower with a low FICO Score. However, if you are using a lot of your available credit, this may indicate that you are overextended—and banks can interpret this to mean that you are at a higher risk of defaulting. Amounts owed can also be referred to as “debt burden.”
Length of credit history (15%). Your credit history length accounts for about 15% of your credit score. The longer you have had your credit accounts, like a credit card, the better a potential lender can see how you manage debt. If you've successfully paid your credit card bill each month for several years, lenders will see you are a reliable borrower.
Credit mix (10%). FICO Scores will consider your mix of credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, finance company accounts, and mortgage loans. Don't worry, it's not necessary to have one of each.
New credit (10%). Research shows that opening several credit accounts in a short amount of time represents a greater risk—especially for people who don't have a long credit history.
Options for checking your credit score
When it comes to the best way to check credit score, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a U.S. government agency, indicates there are several ways to get your credit score. These include:
Credit-scoring websites. There are online companies that will sell you access to your credit score.
Credit card provider. Many credit card providers offer card holders their credit score for free. Be sure to read the fine print to make sure there are no subscription fees for this service.
Credit card statement. Many credit card providers print the card holder’s credit score on their monthly statement.
Credit counselor. Non-profit credit counselors
and HUD-approved housing counselors
can often provide you with a free credit report and score and help you review them.
Buy a score. You can buy a score directly from the credit reporting companies. You can buy your FICO credit score
. Other services may also offer scores for purchase. If you decide to purchase a credit score, you are not required to purchase credit protection, identity theft monitoring, or other services that may be offered at the same time. By law, a credit reporting company can charge no more than $13.50 for a credit report.
How to get copies of your credit reports
By law, everyone is entitled to obtain free copies of their credit reports every 12 months from each of the three major consumer reporting companies (Equifax®, Experian™, and TransUnion®).
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggests three ways that consumers can get their free credit reports:
Call (877) 322-8228
Download and complete the Annual Credit Report Request form
Mail the completed form to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Tracking your credit score at CU SoCal
At CU SoCal, we believe you should have instant and free access to one of the most important numbers in your financial life – your credit score.
With Credit Score and More
, you can get your credit score, check your real-time credit score, and view your credit history instantly through Online
and Mobile Banking
. There is no cost or credit card needed. This service is 100% free to all CU SoCal Members.
Why savvy consumers choose CU SoCal
For over 60 years CU SoCal has been providing financial services, including car loans, mortgages, Home Equity Loans, HELOCs, personal loans, credit cards, and other banking products, to those who live, work, worship, or attend school in Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, and San Bernardino County.
Please give us a call today at 866.287.6225 today to schedule a no-obligation loan consultation with a CU SoCal Member Services specialist.
Check Your Credit Score Today!