We refinanced our house at 3.625% and our auto loan is at 1.49%. Not saying this to brag, but this wasn’t a lucky break, but a conscious effort on our part to be on top of our credit reports and credit scores.
Credit Bureaus – The Three Musketeers!
To give a quick overview of the credit system in the US, your credit history is monitored by three bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Collectively, they maintain a complete history of any activity involving credit including bankruptcies and foreclosures.
Each bureau has a slightly different way of collecting your credit data and not every lender reports to all three bureaus, so these reports aren’t identical. These include getting a home mortgage, or an auto loan or signing up for a credit card etc.
Every payment you make or miss is also reported! Any new lender will look up your credit history, typically from all three bureaus.
Although there are unscrupulous companies that charge you to provide these reports, you can get them for free. By law, you are allowed one report from each of these bureaus, every year.
Apart from credit reports, there is another component to your credit history. These are called credit scores and each of these three bureaus have a slightly different way of calculating your score based on your credit history.
Credit scores are a quick way to gauge how good of a borrower you are. Getting your score is the first step for any lender. There is no point in going over your credit reports if you have a poor credit score to begin with!
There are are different credit scores provided by these bureaus and then there is FICO score from Fair Isaac Corporation.
When people refer to a credit score, they normally mean FICO score.
FICO is the de facto champion of credit scores.
There are ways to get your credit score from various credit bureaus for free, but not FICO scores. Not until now.
Barclays has announced that its card members can access their FICO scores anytime! Barclays is slowly rolling this out and for some cards, there is no visible link to access this page. But it is there!
Check your score via this link if you can’t see yours in your accounts page.
I have Barclay’s Visa card and I couldn’t see this page and Barclay’s hasn’t officially announced its availability, but I could see my FICO score from the above link.
Discover is also offering this service via it’s IT Card but unlike Barclay’s, you get monthly access to your FICO score.
And if you don’t have a Barclay’s or Discover card, you can also get your monthly FICO score via DCU Credit Union (I do!).
Disclaimer: I like to write about products and services I use and in the interest of ethical blogging… I do have a Barclay’s card (Priceline Visa) and I can confirm that you do get to see your FICO score in your accounts page. I’m also a member of DCU and DCU provides monthly FICO scores if you use some of its services. I do have a Discover card, but do not have the IT card and as far as I know, only the IT card provides your FICO score access as of this post.