I first began to take note of my credit score around my 18th birthday in 2001. I remember it being an unbearable chore to stay up on your credit score. Typically you were allowed a free credit report once a year from each of the three main reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) and that was about as far as you could go without paying through the nose for a service.
Luckily, the internet (as usual) came along and now ALL of our problems are solved! Well, the “monitoring your own credit” problems at least…
Here are three of the services that seem to work well for most people:
WalletHub allows access to a complete credit report as well as your score. It also has the capability to alert you of changes in your score. Credit information is updated daily, allowing the most accurate figures of the three services.
One major drawback of WalletHub is the “recommendations” for credit card applications. If you are looking to expand your credit portfolio or are simply looking to consolidate debt into a low-to-no interest account, these recommendations can be very helpful. However, if you are not looking to open any new accounts the constant reminders that you are “eligible for a 0% interest card – APPLY NOW” can get a bit tiring.
I have not used this site myself, but based on reviews, this site is pretty similar to the other two services with a couple of exceptions. First, instead of daily or weekly, Sesame only allows updates monthly. One of the bonuses that Sesame has over the others is that you are able to view your Debt-to-Income (DTI) ratio which is very helpful when applying for a home loan.
And last but certainly not least, we have the “OG” service, Credit Karma. This was the first service I ever used and I was blown away by how easy it was to keep track of my credit. It offers reported credit factors and scores from two of the main agencies (Equifax and TransUnion) and has a multitude of tools available free of charge. You can get an updated score up to weekly.
Karma has the same drawback as WalletHub with it directing you to “recommended” credit card applications. They say you never forget your first and this is absolutely true for me and Credit Karma. Still my #1 service for credit tracking.
While these are all technically “free” services, they are businesses. They provide a free service in exchange for your attention being paid to potential financing options. But if you can get past the annoying pop-ups, these services will give you a realistic picture of your credit status and give you the fire power to negotiate confidently when making a major purchase like a car or a home.