How to Monitor Your Credit – For Free!
There are a variety of credit monitoring services that can help you keep an eye on your credit throughout the year for a fee. Some fees are manageable at around $20 per month but that can add up within a year. Some companies that offer these services tend to pressure consumers into signing up, so these services may not be for you. The services may help in keeping track of purchases, credit inquires and who’s been viewing your credit report. The good news is there are ways consumers can monitor their credit for free while making plans for special purchases in the future. Request copies of your credit report but do it throughout the year with each credit agency. There are 3 major credit reporting agencies that create your report: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Consumers are entitled to a free credit report from each agency; checking with each agency throughout the year helps you track activity related to different financial areas. Plus, it makes it easier to catch errors. Review financial statements carefully each month. This may include statements from your credit card company or bank. You’ll want to check to make sure any purchases or charges that show up are indeed yours. If a charge has been made and you are unsure why it originated then contact your bank or credit card company to have it reviewed. Reviewing statements also helps reduce identity theft risk. If someone else made an unauthorized purchase you can have a fraud alert placed on your credit report for free. Keep an eye on how you manage your finances each month. While we all make mistakes in how we handle our money there are simple actions you can take that may help you save in the long run. Pay bills in a timely manner; meaning pay them on time. Work on paying off balances in full or try to keep them low. About 35 percent of your FICO score is determined based on your payment history. 30 percent of your credit score comes from how much credit you use on a monthly basis. Utilize online tools that can help you manage your finances. There are different tools available online for free that can help you understand how your financial actions affect your overall score, such as a credit score estimator. Use online bill pay options that allow for automatic payment so you’re payments are made on time each month.