7 Safe Ways to Check Your Credit Score Without Lowering It

7 Safe Ways to Check Your Credit Score Without Lowering It
Credit reporting

As a Loan Officer of over 10 years, (back in the day), maintaining a healthy credit score is more crucial than ever. It influences loan approvals, interest rates, and even job opportunities and insurance rates. However, a common misconception is that checking your credit score can negatively impact it. This concern leads many to avoid monitoring their credit, potentially missing errors or identity theft. Fortunately, there are safe methods to check your credit score without risking a drop. This blog post explores seven such strategies, ensuring you stay informed about your financial health without any bad effects.

1. Annual Credit Report

Under federal law, you're entitled to a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting agencies - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion - through AnnualCreditReport.com. These reports provide detailed accounts of your credit history, though not your actual score. However, understanding your credit report is the first step towards improving your credit score. By law, checking your credit report through this service is considered a "soft inquiry" and does not affect your credit score. I always recommend checking it more often, probably quarterly.

2. Credit Card and Loan Statements 

Many credit card issuers and loan providers offer free credit score access as part of their service. This feature allows you to monitor your credit score regularly without a hard inquiry. Typically, these scores are updated monthly and can be viewed through your online account dashboard. It's a convenient way to keep an eye on your credit health, especially if you're working towards improving it. Check with your bank, credit card issuer, or loan provider to see if this option is available.

3. Non-Profit Credit Counselors 

Non-profit credit counseling agencies can provide you with your credit report and score for free during a counseling session. These sessions are designed to help you understand your credit situation and offer strategies to improve your financial health. The inquiry made by the counselor is a soft inquiry and won't impact your credit score. This method not only helps you check your score but also educates you on how to manage your finances better. Watch and be careful: Companies that charge are often worse than the non-profits, even though they claim to be more thorough, etc. Careful!

4.. Credit Score Services 

Several online platforms and apps offer free credit score checks. These services typically partner with credit bureaus to provide you with an estimate of your credit score based on the information in your credit report. While these scores may not be very close to the exact scores lenders use, they are approximations and useful for monitoring trends in your credit health. Remember, using these services constitutes a soft inquiry, thus not affecting your credit score.

5. Lender Pre-Qualifications 

If you're considering applying for a loan or credit card, many lenders offer the option to pre-qualify. This process usually requires a soft credit check, which does not affect your credit score. Pre-qualification provides a glimpse into the terms you might receive, including the interest rate and loan amount, without committing to an application. It's a valuable tool for comparing different lenders and finding the best deal without risking your credit score. However, mostly pre-qualifications usually aren't all that accurate, but just a quick gauge of what you might see.

6. Personal Finance Software

Some personal finance software and apps integrate credit score monitoring as part of their features. By connecting your financial accounts, these tools can provide regular updates on your credit score. They use soft inquiries to fetch this information, ensuring your credit score remains unaffected. This method offers the added benefit of managing your finances and credit in one place.

7. Ask Your Employer or Insurance Company 

Some of the larger employers and insurance companies offer credit score checks as part of their employee benefits package. These checks are performed with your consent and are considered soft inquiries. They can be a convenient and free way to access your credit score, especially if other options are not available to you.

In Conclusion

Monitoring your credit score is vital for financial health, but it shouldn't come at the cost of lowering it. By utilizing these seven safe methods, you can stay on top of your credit without any negative impact, paving the way for a secure financial future, with lower interest rates and better tems.

Dean Benson, “The Dean of Rock & Roll”  SKY7music.com Middays on the “Only Classic Rock” channel

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