Up until today, it was 1 year and 10 months for me.
But then I logged into USAA as I usually do most mornings (a habit any true $$ nerd would enjoy), and I was met out of the blue with this:
Woah!!! A free credit score just for me??? Is mine really 821?? Who? What? Where? When?
(If you’re wondering – yes, we do have a balance on our c/c because we throw all our expenses on it to rack up cash back rewards as well as to make budgeting much easier. Which of course we pay off in full every month. You’ll also notice a $25,000 credit line too even though we’d never use it in a million years. That’s to jack up our debt-to-credit ratio to help pump up that score more! Which looks like is working! :) But only smart to do if you trust yourself enough not to max it all out.)
So I Googled… and came across this from The Washington Post dated Jan 13th of this year:
Ahead of its competitors, Discover rolled out free FICO scores on the monthly statements of millions of its card members… But there is nothing like peer pressure.
This week, President Obama, in a speech at the Federal Trade Commission about privacy and how to better protect consumers from identity theft, gave a shout-out to several lenders — JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, USAA, the State Employees’ Credit Union, Ally Financial — for deciding to also offer free credit scores to their customers.
The article went on to say,
“USAA said it will fully implement its free credit score program to credit card holders by March and will provide the Experian VantageScore.”
And it is March now, isn’t it? Woo! I tip my hat to you, USAA. Not that it really surprises me much considering I’m obsessed with ya’ll and have over 10 accounts with you, but still – classy move no less.
Who cares about USAA though – what does this mean for you?
Well, that hopefully you can easily get YOUR credit score for free too just by logging on to your bank or credit card account too. See if you can find it! :) If you can’t, or you use an institution outside of that list above, odds are you’ll probably start seeing it soon as everyone tries staying competitive…
How else to get your free credit score
Other places you can grab your free credit score is at Credit Sesame, Credit Karma or Quizzle. Though the only one I’ve used personally up until this point is Credit Sesame. Which gave me the following score those 22 months ago:
And the time I pulled it before that it was 791. Which I only know because I was in a heated battle with my wife to see who would win :) (Can you guess who came out victorious?)
Now all these places spit out different types of scores (there’s like a billion of them), but the point is to get a good measure of where you stand on the range so you can then start working on improving it. Similar to tracking your net worth or early retirement scenario. We’ll all track it a bit differently, but if we stick to one it’ll be easier to compare how we’re doing. And it’s not the end of the world to mix them up from time to time either just to see what the differences are…
FYI – the score Credit Sesame gives you is an Experian one and the score USAA just gave me is the Experian VantageScore – which is different in that it combines the scores of all 3 main credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). And then of course there’s the grandaddy of them all – the FICO Score. Again, tons of scores out there but the point is to know where you generally stand and see if you can continue improving upon it.
UPDATE: I totally forgot I ran my score last year too – oops. Which I paid for through Experian while in there running my credit report (apparently I’m not loyal to anyone ;)). Here’s what that one showed:
So why do you want a good credit score?
- The higher your score the less $$$ you pay when you take out a loan
- The higher your score the less interest rate you pay on your credit card(s)
- The higher your score the more attractive you’ll be when dating ;) (TRUTH: there’s a dating site based on credit scores!!)
Why you might not care about your credit score:
- You never plan to take on debt again
There’s a whole gaggle of people who actually don’t believe in credit scores and go about their lives without them. They rent apartments, buy cars, and say they even purchase homes without a credit score. I used to call shenanigans on that, and then it turned out an old blogging bud of mine (Brad Chaffee – if anyone remembers him? From Enemy of Debt?) was such a person. And claimed he had a credit score of zero, which I really laughed at and didn’t believe (turns out that’s kinda sorta true too, but also not).
Anyways, whether you care for them or not, it’s probably in your best interest to at least *know* where you stand and make sure nothing wonky is going on without your knowledge.
Which is where (free) credit reports come in…
Not to be confused with credit *scores*, your credit report gives you information about your credit history. And can be dozens and dozens of pages long depending on how active and old you are (and also available to employers FYI – which is another reason you want to know what’s on there). The last time I pulled mine it was 28 pages long! Which of course is much different than your score which is 3 NUMBERS long ;)
So where can you get your credit report for free? AnnualCreditReport.com. The only (non-shady) place that’s literally mandated by federal law to provide such a report to you every single year, free of charge. In fact, as soon as I post this I’ll be running mine again as well since it’s been a year (I tend to stick with Experian’s report in there though you get access to all 3 bureaus’ reporting).
Your challenge for today!
So your challenge for today is to run both your credit score and your credit report if you haven’t done so in a while. To get your free score log onto your own financial institution to see if you can get it there now, and if not hit up Credit Sesame or any of those others out there or just pay for it after running your report which comes next.
Then 5 seconds later grab your report from AnnualCreditReport.com and staple everything together so you can review later in the week. The second part of your homework assignment ;) I’m not gonna lie and say it’ll be quick, or fun for that matter, but it’s definitely a smart move to make. And much more productive than seeing what your “friends” are doing on Facebook!!
Once you have ’em, tell me what your score is! And see if you beat my current 821 :) Or if you’d rather not, try out some of these made-up but equally awesome calculations instead:
This should keep you occupied for the rest of the work day :)
Photo by andymag
Jay loves talking about money, collecting coins, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his three beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!