A credit monitoring service helps you keep track of what’s going on with your credit history. You want to know what’s going on with your credit report since all lenders and financial institutions use your credit report to determine what interest rates and what loans you qualify for.
A credit monitoring service is useful in determining identity theft or if there are errors on your credit report. This may reduce the impact of these activities on your credit standing if discovered early on. You may also decide to use a credit monitoring service about 2 years before you are planning on purchasing a home. That way, you can do things to improve your score to get better rates by the time you are ready to turn in your loan application.
Here’s what you need to do to choose a credit monitoring service:
- Determine the length of time you will need monitoring. Do just want a single annual report or do you want to track it monthly? A single report gives you your credit history at one time. If you have good credit and just want a pulse of your financial health, you can go with this. It is even provided for free by some services. However, you may choose to go with a monthly report if you are trying to rebuild bad credit, have been a victim of fraud or identity theft, or trying to correct a mistake on your credit report.
- Choose a monitoring service that gives a tri-bureau credit report. This is a comprehensive report from the three credit reporting bureaus: TransUnion; Equifax and Experian.
- Know the fees. A report directly from one of the bureaus is usually under $20 each. A monitoring service can provide all three for a lower monthly fee. Some companies bill monthly after a free trial period. Some have hidden fees or may provide extra services such as identity theft insurance. Know what fees you will be charged upfront. You may check online at www.freescore.com, to get a one time free credit score check. Another resource is www.creditinfocenter.com.
- Get an explanation. A good credit monitoring service report should have an explanation of your scores. Some have tips on what to do to improve them. You may check the company website for an explanation of terms in your report, what are desirable score ranges or call the customer service line if you have questions.
- Check your credit card if they offer the service. Credit card companies have access to your credit profile and may even provide you a single report for free if you ask for one.
A credit monitoring service can be a tool in helping you achieve your financial goals. Getting as much information about yourself lets you know areas in your credit history you can improve on. It’s best to know if there’s a problem right away so you can correct the issue. Remember to keep all information gathered from reports in a safe and confidential place.