Monday, January 23, 2017

Is it Really Necessary to Check Your Credit Score?

Having a good credit score matters. It affects whether or not you can get a mortgage or other loans, the interest rate you pay, whether a landlord accepts you as a tenant, and a whole host of other reasons. However, just checking your credit score doesn’t improve it. It’s also questionable whether the credit score you see matches the score that banks and other institutions see when they check on you.

To improve your credit score, you need to maintain reasonable debt levels and pay your bills responsibly. Instead of monitoring your credit score, you can just get a free copy of your credit report from Equifax and TransUnion once per year to make sure it’s accurate. You can do this by calling them and going through their automated phone system to order a mailed copy of your report. If something is wrong, you can try to get it fixed.

These free credit reports don’t give you your score, but they do list your creditors and a measure of how responsible you’ve been with payments for each one. If your credit reports are accurate, your debt levels are reasonable, and you’ve made your debt payments on time, your credit score will take care of itself. But if your credit reports are accurate but unflattering, the only good remedy is to handle your money more responsibly. Businesses that claim to be able to improve your score can’t make the truth go away.

I frankly can’t tell whether the many of bloggers who advocate checking your credit score regularly actually believe what they write or are getting paid to write this stuff. But I think it’s better to worry less about your score and more about handling your debts well and making sure your credit reports are accurate.


  1. After I paid off all my mortgage and became debt free, I didn't see a need to worry about my credit score. My score has always been good, but beyond once out of curiosity, checking my credit report has be pretty low on my list of things to do.

    Now there is a reason that is relevant to me, I can get lower insurance rates with a good credit score. I still didn't bother checking my report, just gave the insurance company permission to check my score and got a discount because it's still good apparently. So far they can't raise my rates for a bad score, or so they say.

    I guess the other possibly relevant to me reason to check my credit report is a way to detect identity theft. Other than that I don't see a reason to bother. The chances of me unexpectedly needing quick credit are pretty close to zero.

    Are there any reasons to monitor my credit report that I am missing?

    1. @Greg: My situation is similar to yours. I get free credit reports sporadically, and make sure there isn't anything important that's wrong. I suppose I might monitor it more if I thought I had an above-average chance of being a victim of identity theft. But, I'm not sure how effective such monitoring really is.