It’s very easy to get your credit scores these days, because you can buy them or get them for free through a variety of companies. While credit scores influence your ability to access loan products, they also have a significant impact on non-credit aspects of your finances, like how much you pay for insurance, utilities or rent.
Credit scores are important, but 16% of people polled in a recent Credit.com survey had never checked their credit scores. Of those who had seen their credit scores before, nearly 40% hadn’t viewed them in the past 12 months, and most of those who checked a score within the year (54%) had only done so once.
These numbers came from a Credit.com survey of of 2,206 U.S. consumers, 18+, using Survey Monkey Audience, between April 25 to 27.
Why You Should Look at Credit Scores
Even if you’re not planning on taking out a loan any time soon, you should prioritize improving your credit, because your plans may change and you could find yourself in need of a loan or a credit card. The last thing you want to worry about in an emergency is whether your credit is in good shape.
Credit scores also play a role in other parts of your life as a consumer. For instance, if you have a bad credit score (here’s how to tell) or no credit history, a landlord may want to charge you a higher deposit, because your credit score (or lack of one) makes you a riskier tenant. Lenders aren’t the only ones to use credit scores to assess the risk of taking you on as a customer, which can be frustrating for consumers who prefer to live without credit.
If you’re not checking your credit scores, you may be overlooking some important information about your finances. Perhaps you think you are a very responsible consumer. If you look at your credit scores and they are lower than you expect, it’s a sign something needs to change. Perhaps you’re spending too much on your credit cards, which hurts your credit utilization rate. Maybe you’re doing nothing wrong, but someone has stolen your Social Security number and used it to open fraudulent accounts, which are reported to the credit bureaus and affect your credit standing.
It may not seem like a big deal that only 16% of people haven’t checked their credit scores. It’s an issue, but it’s not as alarming as the percentage of survey respondents who haven’t checked their scores in the past 12 months. Your credit scores can change every time new information is sent to a credit reporting agency. In short: Credit scores constantly fluctuate. The score you had two months ago could be several points different than your score today. That’s OK — you definitely shouldn’t freak out over a change of a few points — but the longer you go without checking your score, the less likely you are to identify things you need to change in order to maintain good credit.
Considering how easy it is to get your credit score, you may want to add it to your other financial habits, like checking the balances on your accounts and monitoring your credit card transactions. Getting your credit score doesn’t have to be financial burden, either. Sites like Credit.com let you see your credit scores for free, and as long as you look at the same score regularly, you’ll see how your financial behaviors affect your score.
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