A free and easy way to monitor your credit score

Some people are under the impression that if they apply for a lot of credit cards, their credit score will take a big hit. Not true. Applying for credit cards does not severely impact your credit score. Not paying your credit cards on time is what severely impacts your credit score. Payment history comprises approximately 35% of your total FICO score, with the total amount of debt as a close second with 30%. When you apply for credit cards, those are sometimes “hard” inquiries on your report, and so they will usually bring down your FICO score very few points and only for a short period of time until it usually comes back up, all other things being equal.

It is important to monitor your FICO score prior to applying for credit cards. While there are several services that are very accurate, they usually come with a fee. However, we like Credit Karma, which is a free and simple service that lets you view your FICO score, your accounts, and how your activity impacts your score. Their website is www.creditkarma.com, and they also have an app that lets you view your score and all other data on your smartphone. From there you will be able to see whether you are ready to apply for credit cards, and the service also suggests credit cards that you might be able to obtain with your current score.

You are entitled to one free credit report from all three major credit bureaus, and this is always a good idea, since chances are there will be inaccuracies in them, and you can correct them at that point. You could be prevented from obtaining credit because of discrepancies on your reports, so don’t neglect them. Checking your own credit does not have any effect on your FICO score, so you can check it as often as you’d like.

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