Your Credit Report
Now that you know there are many different scoring models out there, you understand that all credit scores are not created equal. Before you create your credit game plan, you’ll need to pull your credit report to get an accurate look at where you are sitting today. You’ll also need a way of monitoring your credit to track the changes as you implement your plan.
According to federal law, you’re entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three big credit bureaus. I don’t suggest you waste your time, though, because the credit reports don’t come with scores, so you can’t get a good read on your starting point. Plus, you can’t go back each month for updates — something it’s vital you get in the habit of doing if you want to stay on track with your plan (and the rest of your life!).
There are plenty of places where you can monitor your credit report. Free sites like Credit Karma can be good for checking the content of your report long-term so nothing gets added that you don’t know about, but they generally aren’t going to give you the level of detail you’ll need to effectively carry out your credit game plan. That being said, there are some great choices out there that will meet your credit monitoring needs in the short term, and they’re affordable. Certain options are better than others for different reasons. Ultimately, it comes down to your goal, timeframe, and preference. We’ll be discussing this more, including how to set your priorities and what to look for in a credit monitoring service in the “Auditing Your Credit Report” chapter. Then you’ll be able to decide which route to go.