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Monitor Your Credit Score All The Time

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 [3] 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 [4] 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 [5].

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.