How to check your credit score and report

Monitoring your credit is important because it can help you stay on top of your financial health. But how exactly do you check your credit and scores? And what is a good credit score?

Keep reading to learn how credit reports and credit scores differ—and why it’s so important to monitor them both.

Key takeaways 

  • Credit reports are a record of a borrower’s credit history, credit activity and more.
  • The information in credit reports is used to determine credit scores.
  • Credit scores can change and differ depending on when they’re calculated and what scoring model, information and data are used in the calculation.
  • There are many ways to check your credit scores, including using CreditWise from Capital One.

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Credit score vs. credit report

Your credit reports are statements of your credit history. And there are three major bureaus that compile credit reports: Equifax®, Experian® and TransUnion®. Each credit bureau compiles its own credit reports, so your credit reports may be slightly different from one another.

Your credit scores are based on the information in those credit reports. Some of that information includes your payment history, credit applications, unsettled debt and any debt collection history. Generally speaking, the higher the score, the better. FICO® and VantageScore® provide some of the most commonly used scores. But keep in mind that you have many different credit scores that different lenders use.

As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) explains, “Your score can differ depending on which credit reporting agency provided the information, the scoring model, the type of loan product, and even the day when it was calculated.” 

Where can I check my credit scores and reports?

There are a number of places where you can check your credit reports and scores. Just be aware that some of those places may charge you for the information. To check your credit scores or reports, you could:  

Monitoring your credit can help you understand where you stand. But it’s important to note that decisions about loan applications or credit cards are ultimately up to each lender. And because there are multiple scores and reports out there, what you see in reports and scores you’re given might not be exactly the same as what lenders use to judge creditworthiness.

How do I run a credit check without hurting my credit?

Some places may charge you to check or monitor your credit. But you don’t have to pay to use CreditWise. You can use it to access your TransUnion credit report and weekly VantageScore 3.0 credit score for free anytime—without negatively impacting your score.

You can even see the potential impacts of financial decisions on your credit score before you make them, with the CreditWise Simulator.

CreditWise is free and available to everyone—not just Capital One customers.

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Will checking my scores hurt my credit?

Checking your scores won’t affect your credit, as long as the service uses a soft inquiry—like CreditWise does. That means you can check your credit as many times as you want without hurting your scores.

According to Experian, you should do a credit check rating once a year to keep an eye on your credit score range and check to make sure the information in your credit report is accurate. If you find inaccurate information, you may file a dispute with the credit bureau where you found it—or directly with the lender.

What do lenders see on your credit report?

What you see on your credit reports may be slightly different from the things lenders who are reviewing your credit might see. But generally, if a lender is reviewing your credit, they might see your:

  • Personal information, such as your name, current address and previous addresses.
  • Credit and loan accounts, including information about your payment history.
  • Employment history.
  • Public records, such as bankruptcies.
  • Recent inquiries where you applied for other loans or credit cards.

Why should I check my credit report regularly?

Your credit is important because many companies use it to predict future financial behaviors. So the better your credit, the better your chances of qualifying for things like credit cards, loans, mortgages and other credit products. And the better your rates and terms might be. 

By monitoring your credit, you may be better prepared as you apply for loans. And it can give you an idea of areas where you can work to improve your credit

How to check credit scores in a nutshell

Knowing how to get a copy of your credit reports and check your credit scores is important because they paint a picture of your creditworthiness. By monitoring your credit, you’ll have a good idea of what lenders see when they review your credit. And you’ll be able to spot any errors on your reports that may need to be corrected. 

If you’re looking to better understand the critical role credit plays in your financial life, check out Capital One’s guide about the importance of credit.

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