There are a few ways to find out where you stand with your credit. You’re legally entitled to a free credit report from each of the three main credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) by going to AnnualCreditReport.com. You can get additional free reports if you were denied a credit or loan based on your report (as long as you request it within 60 days of the notice of denial), you believe you’ve been subjected to fraud, you’re unemployed and planning to apply for a job within 60 days of your request, you receive public welfare assistance, or your state law provides it. But, while those reports include detailed information about your credit history, they don’t actually include your credit score.
There are lots of websites and apps that offer “free credit scores,” but make sure you read the fine print before you complete your request; as some of those offers may require you to enroll in a “free trial” of a paid service. If you don’t cancel the free trial in time, you’ll be charged for that service. Game recommends sites like Credit Sesame, Credit Karma, and NerdWallet. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), you can also purchase your score from credit reporting companies like FICO. But you may not even need to go that route. Game also points out that many credit card companies include credit scores on the monthly statements.
While Game says it’s generally fine to check your credit score frequently, if you’re applying for loans or credit cards that lead to more than three credit inquiries by the lenders (known as “hard inquiries” in a 45-day time span, that could hurt your score.
As for the score itself, the number can land anywhere in the range of 300-850, and Game notes that scores in the range of 670-739 are typically considered “good credit.” 740 and above, she notes, will likely get you the best (aka lowest) interest rates. “But don’t panic if you’re not there yet,” she says. “You have plenty of time to [improve] your credit score.”