Check Your Credit Score For Free - Part 2

Credit Card Providers
A few card issuers offer your FICO score free on your monthly statement, like Barclaycard, Capital One, Discover it, U.S. Bank, Citibank, and even Walmart. On top of this, several issuers also offer awesome tracking and data analysis services to determine what good or bad financial habits may be affecting your score.

If in doubt, just call your card issuer and ask about these services.

Ally Bank
If you're an Ally Bank customer, you're in luck. Ally Bank offers free access to your FICO score, a service that aims to help its auto finance customers better understand the state of their financial life.

Anyone considering a car loan might also want to look into the rates Ally offers.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what MyFICO offers. One catch: It's not free. Then again, it isn't too expensive either. It does require you to sign up for a monthly service, but you can cancel your subscription at any time. Make sure you cancel before the start of a new billing cycle, though. They don't do partial refunds.

The Big Ones
Now it's time to circle back to the three major reporting bureaus, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Each of these big kahunas offers your history, score, and scoring data. Each of these companies is required to give you one free report every year. Take full advantage of that by getting one of them every four months and reviewing them closely to make sure that there are no mistakes. You can correct errors, and if there's a mistake dragging your score down, you need to do something about it, because it will cost you money. is the only website authorized by the Federal Government to dispense reports. The standard procedure applies. Sign up online, answer a slew of identity-confirming questions, and get your free credit report from all three major agencies.

How to Improve
Do you want a better rating? Of course, we all do. There's nothing very complicated about doing it either. First, don't listen to anyone who claims to be able to get you an instant improvement, because it doesn't work that way, at least not legally. You improve by showing good money management habits. If you make your payments on time, every time and use less than 30% of your credit limit, your score will improve. Constant applications for new cards or accounts make you look desperate, and will knock you down. You want to use different types of loans responsibly, and keep a balance between installment loans, like a mortgage or a car loan, and revolving lines like credit cards. Keep your old accounts open even if you don't use them much because a longer history will help you.

The good news is that these good habits won't just give you a better rating, they will help you manage your financial life in many other ways as well. Controlling your spending, making payments on time, and using credit carefully will get you better deals on anything credit-related, and they'll help keep your finances in the black as well! The things you buy with credit are valuable, but the satisfaction and security that come from well-ordered finances are priceless!