Many people are in the dark about their credit because they’re under the assumption that you have to pay for your credit score, which just isn’t true. There are several ways you can find out your credit score for free.
One of the best ways to prepare for an auto loan is by getting your credit score and credit reports. We'll show you how to stay on top of your credit reports all year long at no cost, too.
We're Here To Help You
If you have poor credit you may be looking for something in addition to terrible credit auto loans that can raise your credit scores and improve your current credit situation. We understand this because we've been involved in bad credit auto sales for over 20 years here at Auto Credit Express. In that time frame, we've gotten approvals for hundreds of buyers for a bad credit car.
We can show you why a tote-the-note dealer won't help your credit score, and we can also walk you through the loan process to lessen the possibility of repossession. Buyers outside our retail area can also fill out an online auto loan request form to find the right kind of dealer in their area.
But we realize that there are also other things you can do to improve your credit scores, which is why we want to pass on this information to you.
Know Your Credit Score
It's important that consumers, especially those with bad credit, know their credit score (at least one and preferably all three, one from each credit reporting agency – TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) as well as the information contained in each of their credit reports.
Federal law states that the three largest credit bureaus must furnish each consumer with a free credit report every twelve months if the consumer requests it. But unfortunately, the same can't be said for credit scores.
So despite the fact that borrowers can, at no charge, see the information in their credit reports, they typically have to pay for the most important three-digit number in their lives – unless they know where to go to get it for free.
We say "typically", because a number of independent financial sites – such as Credit Karma – as well as more and more lenders are offering to furnish a credit score to account holders at no charge. You may also be able to get your credit score for free through your bank or credit union.
One of the more recent lenders offering such a program is Ally Financial which, up until General Motors sold a majority in it just before filing bankruptcy, was known as General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC). Ally is just one of many services, where members can take advantage of getting their credit scores for free.
Which Credit Score Do I Need?
There is more than one type of credit score out there, but FICO is the oldest and most widely used credit scoring model. When it comes to getting credit for things like a car or a house, most lenders look at your FICO score.
FICO credit scores range from 300 to 850 and are broken down into credit tiers. Lenders use these credit ranges, in addition to information on a borrower’s credit reports, to give them an idea of their creditworthiness.
These different tiers are:
- 300-579: Poor
- 580-669: Fair
- 670-739: Good
- 740-799: Very Good
- 800-850: Exceptional
Now that you know what the FICO score ranges are, let’s look at where you can often find your score for free.
Getting Your FICO Score for Free
It’s common for many banks to provide account holders with credit scores in their monthly statements or online. If yours doesn’t, you may be able to sit down with a banker or loan officer at your financial establishment to get it.
More often than banks, credit unions are known for providing their members with a number of useful services, such as free credit scores. This isn’t available at all credit unions, but a number of larger ones do provide this service. It's worth checking into if you’re a member of a credit union.
Another common place to find your FICO score for free is through your credit card provider. Many give updated credit score information on an app, online, and/or in monthly statements.
In some cases, you don’t even have to be a cardholder to get your credit score for free. For example, Discover Credit Scorecard is a simple way to check your score for free online, and all you have to do is sign up. Other card issuers that provide your FICO score for free include American Express, Citibank, Chase, Bank of America, and Ally Bank, to name a few.
Other Ways to Monitor Your Credit
There are a number of sites online that offer free credit scores. Though these offers may be legitimate, not all of them provide you with your FICO score. Just be aware of this fact, and take a closer look at exactly what they're providing. If you're preparing to take out a loan or another line of credit, try to get your FICO score, as this is what the lender that's evaluating your application is likely going to pull.
For example, the three major credit bureaus – TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax – offer you credit scores based on their credit scoring system, called VantageScore. VantageScores are calculated differently, so don't be surprised if they differ from your FICO score. Other free online credit score providers, such as Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, and Credit.com, may also not be providing you with your FICO score.
Even though the initial credit check through some of these sites are free, they sometimes require you to sign up for a monthly credit monitoring service. These services can help you keep better track of your credit, but they can be expensive and not worth it to you.
As we mentioned, it’s a good idea to keep up with both your credit score and credit reports. For your credit reports, you’re allowed one copy from each credit bureau once every 12 months, thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. In order to request them, simply visit www.annualcreditreport.com.
To stay on top of your credit year-round, we recommend getting a report from each bureau at different times. For example, you could visit the official government site to get a copy of your credit report from Transunion in January, Equifax in May, and Experian in September. This way, you can keep up with changes in your credit reports all year long.
Credit Scores Through Car Buying
Sometimes, depending on the lender you’re using, you can get your credit score updates through your auto loan statements. Even if you can’t get an updated credit score through every lender, a car loan is a great way to improve your credit score. When you’re ready to look for an auto loan and build your credit, Auto Credit Express wants to help.
We work with a nationwide network of special finance dealerships that have the lending resources bad credit borrowers need. Let us help you save time and money by matching you to a local dealer.
Simply fill out our free and secure car loan request form now, and we’ll get to work finding a dealership for your situation. What are you waiting for? Get started right now!