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Monitor Your Credit Score All The Time

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This is a Devil's Advocate post.

The conventional wisdom is that you should check your credit reports at least once a year and your score only when you need it. However, with services like MyFICO and Credit Karma, checking your credit score “all the time” has become just as cheap as checking it infrequently once a year.

Credit Karma is 100% free and they give you a TransUnion credit score using TransUnion data. It’s not technically a FICO score but it’s free and good enough for the reasons I give for monitoring your score all the time. You will have to provide sensitive personal information, since they will be accessing your actual TransUnion credit report, but you’ll never need to pull out your credit card.

MyFICO is run by Fair Isaac Corporation, the creator of the FICO score, and it costs money, about $9 a month. You get an Equifax FICO score every week, among other services. I don’t think it’s important to get an official FICO score all the time if you can get a credit score from one of the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion).

This is part one of a two part Devil’s Advocate, Angel’s Advocate article in which I argue both sides of an issue. This is the Devil’s Advocate post, here is the Angel’s Advocate post arguing why monitoring your credit score all the time is a bad idea.

Faux Identity Theft Protection

The number one reason to monitor your credit score all the time is that it will alert you to any changes in your credit report, because it will impact your score. If someone opens a new line of credit in your name, your score will go down. Since you’re familiar with what you are doing, changes in your score will alert you and you know to immediately investigate the cause of the change.

Learn Good Behaviors

Much like how biofeedback can be harness in the medical field, this is credit-feedback. We all know that applying for lines of credit will reduce your credit score because of hard inquiries, but until we become accustomed to seeing our score on a regular basis and watching it change, that cause and effect rule doesn’t stick out in our mind.

It’s also positive reinforcement of good behaviors, such as paying down or paying off your credit cards and being responsible with our management of credit. Your score will improve as you continue to manage your credit wisely and seeing that reflected in a score on a regular basis can be very empowernig.

Overchecking Beats Underchecking

Having an interest in your credit score and your financial fitness is always better than having little or no interest. As long as your checking doesn’t border on obsessive-compulsive, which turns it into a totally different issue, I think that checking all the time doesn’t hurt you one bit. Any inquiry you make won’t ever count against you with respect to your score so check away.

As you would expect, since this is a Devil’s Advocate post, I don’t check our credit scores “all the time.” I check once a month to look for anything unusual and then don’t worry about it.

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6 Responses to “Monitor Your Credit Score All The Time”

  1. Ann-Marie says:

    Don’t forget Quizzle! To round out your credit monitoring, create a Quizzle account and get a free Experian credit report and score every six months. No SS# or credit card required.

  2. I never heard of Credit Karma – thank you for posting that. I avoided using other services because I didn’t want to pay for it. :-/

  3. thomas says:

    I can’t imagine holding a conversation with someone who does these things! Can you visualize the person who checks their score and alerts every hour? Yikes.

  4. Lucy says:

    I wonder though, do people who check their score everyday seriously exist? I’d think even once a week is a bit excessive.

  5. I recommend myFICO. I use it to monitor activity on my accounts and get at least one of the FICO scores.

    I also track my accounts over Quciken and detected illegal activity about a year ago when my AMEX was used for airline tickets. Online banking while it does expose us to more risk, also provides quick notice if something odd happens in our accounts.


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