How to Safely Check Your Credit Score Online

Everything You Need to Know About Checking Your Online Credit Score

Thinking of purchasing a home, car, maybe looking for an apartment to rent or applying for a student loan? The first thing to do in any credit-related goal is to find out what your credit score is.  Maybe you want to check your credit, but you’re worried it will hurt your score. If so, you’re not alone. It’s a common belief that checking your credit online will negatively affects your credit score— but rest assured, that is false. Checking your own credit score online is safe and does not hurt your score.

Everything You Need to Know About Checking Your Online Credit Score

There is a difference between hard and soft inquiries — hard inquiries happen when you apply for a new line of credit, and a soft inquiry is when you check your own credit. Soft inquiries do not affect your credit score, but hard inquiries can lower your score from just a few points to sometimes more.

Keep in mind the scores you pull online are NOT your actual FICO scores and are a soft inquiry.  These scores are called VantageScore or consumer scores.  They are calculated differently than FICO scores and tend to be higher than FICO scores when a lender pulls credit.

The benefits of getting your scores online and monitoring your credit each month is to know the overall health of your credit. Are there mistakes, collections, any negative items you don’t recognize?  Are your tradelines showing up and in good standing? It is not however always an accurate indication of what your actual FICO credit score.  While VantageScore and FICO scores try to predict the same thing, their scoring calculations aren’t identical.

A FICO score is pulled when someone is actively applying for a new credit card, mortgage, car loan, student loan or personal loan.  This is a hard hit, or hard inquiry.

The impact from applying for credit and pulling an actual FICO score will vary from person to person based on their unique credit histories. In general, getting your FICO score pulled will have a small impact on your scores. For most people, one additional credit inquiry will take less than five points off their FICO Scores. A good rule of thumb- don’t request to pull your credit more than 10 times in a 12-month period. 

What to rememberChecking your own credit score online is safe and does not hurt your score.  It’s a good idea to monitor your credit. A 2017 survey from Discover found that 70% of people who checked their credit score 12 or more times a year felt that doing so positively impacted their credit behavior. 64% of those who checked their credit score from seven to 11 times a year felt the same way. Only 31% of people who checked their credit once a year felt the same way. Empower yourself, know the “health” of your credit.   

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