Do you know if you have a good credit score? Chances are, it matters a lot more than you think.
If you are hoping to get a copy of your credit score, you have plenty of reason to do so. First, knowing your credit score is the best way to figure out where your credit score stands. Is your credit score in good shape? Or does it need work? You may be largely unaware of how your credit is performing until you take the steps to find out for sure.
Second, a good credit score is the key to getting the best rates on a car loan or home loan. Want to finance a home at today’s lowest rates? You’ll need good credit for that. Want an awesome car loan with low monthly payments? You’ll need good credit for that, too.
Lastly, it can even be difficult to rent an apartment if your credit isn’t in tip top shape. Want to wind up living in your mother’s basement?
We didn’t think so.
The point is, your credit score – and specifically, your FICO score – is a bigger deal than most people think. That’s why it’s wise to find out how your credit looks before you actually need it.
Most of the time, you’ll be best off finding out your FICO credit score, which is the credit score most frequently used by lenders.
Unfortunately, the only place to get a copy of your FICO score is from MyFICO, or from a lender when you are applying for a loan (you can get it free if your application is declined). Other online services may promise to give you a free copy of your credit score, but most of the time they will only offer an estimate of your FICO score. While sometimes helpful, an estimate of your score and your real score are not always one and the same.
MyFICO normally charges for your credit score unless you sign up for a free trial of their Score Watch®, which includes 2 FICO® Credit Scores, 2 Equifax Credit Reports, FICO® Score monitoring and alerts. The trial only lasts 10 days, and after that, you are required to pay for a minimum of 3 months of the service – which can get expensive if all you want is a one time score, and not a credit monitoring service.
There are occasionally promo codes for MyFICO, but they are only available for a limited time, and there are often long periods when no coupon codes are available. We do our best to keep this article updated with current MyFICO promo codes.
If you don’t need a credit score from MyFICO and simply want an estimate of your score, then you are definitely in luck. There are many other credit scores out there, and most of them use information from the three main credit bureaus – the same information used by FICO (though the algorithms differ slightly). So if all you are looking for is a good idea of your credit score, then I recommend getting a free credit score from a different provider. In most cases, the score will be very close. Meanwhile, you can get a free credit score by signing up for several of the top rewards cards that offer your FICO score, or an estimate of your FICO score, as a cardholder perk. Most of the time, these scores are offered for free on your monthly statement and require no effort on your part.
You can also get a free credit score from Credit Karma, which differs the VantageScore credit score, which is based on a different scale. Again, it isn’t the FICO credit score, but it can give you a good idea of any recent changes in your credit score, and give you an idea if you are making progress on improving your credit score.
myFICO Promo Codes
note: these coupons often run for a short time period, if they are expired contact us and we will try to find a more up to date promo code – also, you can try using a service such as Credit Karma or Credit Sesame, which both offer free credit scores with no credit card required and no strings attached).
Current myFICO coupon codes/promotions:
myFICO is owned by the Fair Isaac Company, the creator of the FICO credit score, which is considered the industry standard for credit scores. myFICO offers several consumer credit products, such as your credit scores and reports, credit monitoring service, the Suze Orman FICO kit, and more. The most popular myFICO products are:
- myFICO Standard.This is where it all begins – with the credit scores. myFICO Standard gives you a view of your credit scores, giving you a better idea of the interest rates you may pay if you are seeking a loan in the near future. It may be a good idea to check your credit score once a year, or before making a major purchase. You will also receive access to the FICO Score Simulator, which will help give you an idea of how your credit score will change if you repay a loan or take out another loan.
- myFICO Score Watch®. myFICO Score Watch is a credit monitoring service that can help alert you to signs of identity theft or unwarranted changes in your credit reports or credit scores. This service allows you to check your credit score weekly or credit report daily.
- Suze Orman’s FICO® Kit Platinum. This kit helps you better understand your credit score, gives you information to help scope out the best loans for your needs, and more.
- FICO Quarterly Monitoring. myFICO offers a quarterly monitoring service for those who want to monitor their credit reports or scores, but don’t need a monthly update. This service is a good option for people looking to monitor their credit for signs of identity theft.
Checking your credit report and/or score regularly can help you monitor your progress and possibly detect signs of identity theft.
How Your Fico Score is Determined
Like we said before, your FICO score may matter more than you ever realized. If you ever want to buy a home or borrow money to start a business, you’ll wish your credit health was in tip top shape.
But before you can improve your FICO score, it can help to figure out how it was determined in the first place. Since determining a FICO score isn’t an exact science, explaining the process can get a little tricky.
According to myFICO, your score can fall anywhere between 300 and 850, with a higher score showing better credit over all. The following categories and percentages are used to determine your score:
- Payment History: 35 percent
- Amounts Owed: 30 percent
- Length of Credit History: 15 percent
- New Credit: 10 percent
- Credit Mix: 10 percent
Here’s how each of those components works, and why each of them matters:
Payment History – Your payment history is the history of payments you have made, both late and on-time. Since this makes up the bulk of your credit score, it’s crucial to make sure you’re paying all of your bills either on your due date or before they are due. While one late payment may not ding your score too much, several can cause your score to plummet in a fairly short length of time. Fortunately, paying your bills on time is fairly easy if you stay organized.
Amounted Owed – The amount you owe in relation to your credit limits, also known as your credit utilization, shows lenders how well you are able to manage credit. If your utilization is high because you are maxing your credit limits out, that can bode poorly for your credit score as it shows lenders you are a higher risk.
Length of Credit History – When it comes to the length of your credit history, the longer the better. That’s why, when you have several lines of credit or credit cards that have been open for a long time, it is almost always suggested that you keep those accounts open whether you use them or not.
New Credit – New credit is exactly what it sounds like – the amount of new credit you have applied for in the last several months or years. When you apply for new credit cards or open new lines of credit frequently, that can be seen as an indication that you need the money. Most of the time, having lots of new credit will lower your credit score temporarily, although the effects are hardly ever long-lasting.
Credit Mix – Your credit mix represents the different types of credit you have. For example, you might have various car loans, home loans, credit cards, and personal loans. Generally speaking, the more different types of credit have, the better your credit mix looks to credit scoring agencies and lenders.
How to Improve Your FICO Score
Now that you know how your FICO score is determined and where to find it for free, you can take the steps to boost your credit score. Here are some of the best ways to improve your FICO score and help it increase gradually over time:
- Always pay your bills on time. Since your payment history makes the biggest impact on your FICO score, paying your bills on time is one of the easiest ways to boost your score. Make sure you’re paying all of your bills by the due date or, better yet, a week or two early. If you have trouble remembering, mark your calendar or set an alarm so you won’t forget. Conversely, you can consider setting your bills up on auto-pay as well. That way, they are always paid whether you remember or not.
- Pay down debt. Since the amount of money you owe is the second biggest determinant of your score, it makes sense that paying down debt might be a smart move, too. The more debt you pay off, the lower your utilization will appear to credit reporting agencies, and your changing score will likely reflect that. Paying down debt has other benefits, too. For example, the less debt you owe, the less money you’ll fork over in interest payments every month.
- Keep new accounts at a minimum. Since applying for new credit can ding your score temporarily, you should stay away from opening new accounts unless you absolutely need them. While it can be tempting to open new rewards credit cards for the signup bonus frequently, you should steer clear from this hobby when you’re trying to improve your credit.
- Get added as an authorized user. If you’re having trouble qualifying for credit on you own, getting added as an authorized user on someone else’s credit card might do the trick. When a family member adds you as an authorized user, you get the benefit of having their responsible credit use reported to your personal credit report. Just remember that your actions matter, too. If you use their credit irresponsibly and rack up debt you can’t pay back, you’ll put both of your credit scores on the line.
- Keep old credit accounts open. Remember how a long credit history can boost your score? One of the best things you can do is keep old accounts open whether you are using them or not. Remember, the longer your average credit account is open, the better of you’ll be.
- Apply for different types of credit if it makes sense. While you won’t want to run out and apply for different types of credit on a whim, shaking up your credit mix can benefit your score according to myFICO. If you’re in the position to do so, add a new type of credit – such as a no-fee credit card – to your portfolio.