The Value of an Online Credit Score
Everyone who's ever borrowed money has one. A credit score, that is. It's a three-digit number ranging from a low around 350 to a (nearly unattainable) perfect score in the 800 range. Your credit score, which changes constantly, is a snapshot of your creditworthiness at a given point in time. Your credit score is based on calculations made by the three credit bureaus — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax — that reflect your bill-paying history, outstanding debt, mix of installment and revolving debt, and how much of your available credit you use, among other things.
Credit scores provide lenders, credit card issuers and other financial institutions a quick assessment of your credit risk and help them gauge what your future credit behavior will be; that is, how likely it is that you'll responsibly pay your debts. Lenders will typically check your credit information, including your online credit score, when you apply for credit, whether it's a mortgage, car loan, credit card or student loan. Your credit score not only largely determines whether you will qualify for a loan, it also determines other terms of the loan, particularly what interest rate you'll pay.
Smart consumers check their credit score prior to applying for any loan. If your credit score is high, you can feel confident negotiating from a position of strength. If your score seems low, you should check your credit information for possible errors that may be negatively impacting your credit score. Once you correct any errors, it's wise to wait several weeks and check your credit score again to see if it's improved.
You can get access to your credit score instantly by purchasing an online credit score, for a small fee, from a variety of sources. All three credit bureaus as well as a number of credit monitoring companies offer access to online credit scores. These online credit scores can be purchased by themselves or as part of a package of services that includes both an instant credit score and ongoing monthly credit monitoring.
Here's how to contact the three credit bureaus: