Lately I’ve been seeing TV commercials for the Discover card, boasting that they now provide the card-holder’s credit score right on the monthly statement. What a great idea!!! And apparently Richard Cordray, Director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, agrees.
Most people don’t seem to worry about their credit report/credit score until they are trying to borrow money…when it may be too late to do anything about it. But it’s something that can affect you all the time. Did you know that car insurance companies may factor in your credit history when determining the rate you pay? Seems they’ve made the connection that risky behavior in your finances may be indicative of risky behavior on the roads. Not to mention all the bad things you could be missing on your credit in the case of identity theft. You just really need to keep an eye on things.
Several years ago it became a lot easier for Americans to check in on their credit. A free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion) is available to you each year through the website http://www.annualcreditreport.com. But these reports do not include the elusive credit score. That will cost you a fee of about $8 per bureau.
The credit score is a method of translating a whole credit report, which includes listings of every credit account you have and what your payment history is like on those accounts, into one easy number that is indicative of your financial behavior. It’s kind of like translating your whole college transcript into a simple grade point average number. It gives a quick and dirty picture of what is typical financial behavior for you.
So if it’s the best quick measure of your financial performance, why can’t you get the credit score for free? I wish I knew. But Discover has taken a step toward rectifying that situation, and I’m hopeful that other credit card providers will follow suit in the near future. In the meantime, you can get a reasonable credit score estimate (as well as a lot of really good information) through http://www.creditkarma.com. It’s worth checking out.