Yes, it’s safe to check your own credit score
Checking your own score has no effect on your credit. Doing so is a good idea, in general, so that you can know where you stand from a financial standpoint.
Head of Growth at Tally
September 13, 2022
Despite what you may think, checking your credit score is actually a good idea. It takes less than 15 minutes. It’s free. And it’s one of the most important things you can do for your financial health.
You might be wondering, “won’t checking my credit score bring it down?”
While many people believe this, it’s just not true. Checking your own credit has no effect whatsoever on your credit score.
In this guide, we’ll go over why this is the case — and provide guidance on safe sites to check your credit score details.
What is a credit score?
Your credit score is a numerical rating between 300 and 850. It’s a measure of your creditworthiness, which helps lenders decide whether or not they are willing to lend you money.
Someone who has consistently made on-time payments on their debt, has not declared bankruptcy, and has a diverse credit history will likely have a good credit score.
Someone who has had delinquencies, bankruptcies, missed payments, or other negative marks, will have a lower credit score.
Curious how you compare to your peers? Check out details on the average credit score by age.
Why it’s important to check your credit score
Monitoring your credit score is important for several reasons:
It helps you keep tabs on your financial progress
It helps you determine your likelihood of getting approved for a loan or credit card
It helps you catch any mistakes or errors that could be hurting your credit
It helps you monitor your revolving utilization, which is an important factor in credit health
It’s wise to check your full credit report around once per year, and to check in with your credit score perhaps once every 3-6 months.
Remember: Checking your credit will not affect your score.
Can checking my credit score hurt my credit?
No, it does not.
When a lender checks your credit, that can have a minor negative impact on your score. But when you yourself check your score, it has no impact.
There are two types of credit checks: “hard” inquiries and “soft” inquiries.
Applying for a loan or credit card requires a hard credit inquiry, which usually affects your score by less than five points. But you don’t need to apply for a loan to check your credit.
You can easily check your own credit without going into a bank or applying for a loan. When you do this yourself, it’s considered a "soft" check. Soft checks do not impact your score.
You can check your own credit as often as you like and your credit score will not be affected.
How to check your credit score for free
It’s a good idea to regularly check your credit to ensure your reports are error-free. You want to keep an eye out for mistakes or incorrect marks that could affect your ability to get approved for loans in the future.
There are two broad ways to check your credit score:
Using a credit monitoring service, which gives you an estimated credit score
Requesting full credit reports, which gives you an exact score + full credit report details
The simplest is to use credit monitoring. Many credit cards now offer this feature for free, so you may already have access. If not, you can use one of the sites listed below.
Safe sites to check your credit score
Some free services that offer credit monitoring (and estimated credit scores) include:
Many credit card providers also offer free credit monitoring (Capital One, Chase, Discover, etc.)
You’ll need to sign up for these services, but once you do, you can use them to monitor your credit report. Note that these services won’t give you your full credit report, only an estimated score plus some aggregated data from the report. With that said, in many ways, they are actually more user-friendly than downloading full credit reports.
Because many credit cards now come with free credit monitoring, it’s helpful to check your online account there first.
Keep in mind you may already have credit monitoring via a credit card, which means you won’t need to sign up for something like Credit Karma.
There are also many paid credit monitoring services that you might consider using. However, with the variety of free options available, it’s typically not necessary to pay for a service.
Safe sites to check credit reports
For full credit reports, there’s really only one place to go: annualcreditreport.com
There are three credit reporting bureaus, and by law, each one is required to give you a free credit report every 12 months. Visit annualcreditreport.com to request your free reports from the three credit reporting bureaus—Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. You’ll get separate reports from each one detailing your full credit history.
You can either check all three at once annually and compare them all side-by-side. Or, you can check a different report every four months to keep tabs on your credit throughout the year.
Note: You can request one free report per year, per credit bureau. Additional reports may cost up to $13.50 per request.
Spoiler: These reports can be a bit cumbersome to decode, but it’s worth going over them with a fine-tooth comb. Each report may vary slightly, but should include all your credit cards and loans, how long your accounts have been open and your payment history for each.
If you find any mysterious accounts or information that seems wrong, immediately contact the bureau to get it corrected. The earlier you catch any errors, the better. Lingering misinformation on any of your reports could make it difficult to get loans or credit cards down the line.
Note that annualcreditreport.com is the only safe site to check credit score details by downloading a full report. Be wary of other sites, which may try to charge money to access your credit report.
You can always check your own credit score without worrying about whether it will affect your score moving forward. Checking your own score has no effect on your credit.
You can check your score using safe sites to check credit scores. This includes credit monitoring tools from your bank or credit card provider, and services like Credit Sesame or Credit Karma. And remember, once per year, you can download a full free credit report from annualcreditreport.com.
Is existing credit card debt holding you back from your financial goals? Check out Tally† Tally is an app that helps qualifying Americans consolidate credit card balances into a lower interest line of credit. Learn how Tally works here.
†To get the benefits of a Tally line of credit, you must qualify for and accept a Tally line of credit. Based on your credit history, the APR (which is the same as your interest rate) will be between 7.90% - 29.99% per year. The APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Annual fees range from $0 - $300.