Checking your credit score is a good way to make sure you aren’t suffering from credit reporting errors, fraud, or something else harmful to your credit and finances. But how often should you check your score—every year, every month, or even more frequently than that?
Ultimately, how often you check your credit score is up to you. Checking it every few months is enough for most people. However, there are certain circumstances when it makes sense to check your score more frequently.
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How often are credit scores updated?
This means your credit score will update on a monthly basis if you only have one credit account, but may update more frequently if you have multiple (your score will update any time one of your creditors reports your activity to the credit bureaus, and they probably won’t all report at the same time).
In general, even though your credit score might update several times per month, it’s probably enough to check your score every 1–2 months. You don’t need to pay attention to every single update—you just want to maintain a reasonably clear and current picture of your credit health.
Note that you have multiple credit reports that may contain different information since creditors don’t always report to all three credit bureaus. Because credit scores are based on the information in your credit reports, you could have multiple different credit scores at any given time, some of which may update more frequently than others.
Why you should check your credit score regularly
Here are a few of the benefits of monitoring your credit score:
Better understand your credit health
Checking your scores will give you a glimpse into changes in your credit file. A sudden and unexplained drop in your credit score could tip you off to errors on your credit report. This gives you a chance to dispute the inaccuracies before they hurt your finances and loan options.
If you find errors in one of your credit reports, send the credit bureau that published the credit report a dispute letter explaining the errors and asking that they be corrected. You can do this quickly and easily using a credit dispute letter template.
Even if there are no errors, checking your credit score will tip you off if you’re making mistakes with your credit accounts (or if you’re doing something that’s having a positive impact—changes to your credit score aren’t always bad!)
The table below shows how different actions affect your credit score.
How Actions Can Change Your Credit Score
|Credit Action||Effect on Credit Score|
|New credit application||Negative|
|Credit card closed||Negative|
|Increase in credit card limit||Positive|
Detect fraud or identity theft early
Sudden changes in your credit score can also be a sign of identity theft or fraudulent charges on one of your credit accounts.
If you notice your credit score drop suddenly, then check for these common signs of fraud:
- Applications for new credit accounts that you don’t recognize
- New account that have already been opened
- An increase in spending on one of your credit cards
- New medical collections
Carefully investigate these changes and place a fraud alert on your credit reports if you weren’t responsible. You can do so for free by contacting Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. You only need to contact one of the credit bureaus, and they’ll notify the other two. If your identity was stolen, then you should also report it at IdentityTheft.gov.
When is the best time to check your credit score?
As mentioned, you should check your credit score at least every few months.
However, in certain situations, it’s wise to perform additional checks to protect your credit and financial health.
Situations when you should check your credit score more often
- Before applying for a new loan: Knowing your credit score before you submit a new credit application will lower the risk of a surprise rejection. It’ll also give you time to build up your credit if your score needs a boost.
- When you think your identity has been stolen: If you have missing mail or you’re getting strange alerts from one of your creditors, checking your credit scores and reports will help you confirm whether someone else is using credit in your name.
- After a divorce: Although divorce doesn’t directly impact your credit score, any effect the split has on your finances and how your joint accounts are handled could lead to changes in your credit score. Taking extra care to monitor your credit after a divorce will help you spot signs of trouble before they can do too much damage.
- After negotiating with a creditor or debt collector: If you convince a creditor or debt collection agency to agree to a credit repair strategy like pay for delete or a goodwill deletion, you should check your credit score and credit report to ensure that they held up their end of the deal.
- Before applying for jobs, insurance, or utilities: Employers, insurance companies, landlords, utility providers, and phone companies often run credit checks. Knowing in advance whether you meet their credit score requirements will help you get the best deals and avoid rejection.
Whatever your circumstances, ensuring that your credit score is accurate will help you make the right financial decisions and show lenders your creditworthiness.
Is there a limit to how often you can check your credit score?
Technically, you can check your credit score as often as you want. With that said, the company providing your credit score (e.g., your creditor or a score-monitoring service provider) may impose a limit to how often they provide you with an updated score.
Thankfully, checking your credit won’t hurt your credit score in any way. This is because credit checks you perform on yourself are classified as soft credit checks rather than hard inquiries (which can cause a small dip in your score).
How to check your credit score
Hire a credit monitoring services
The update frequency depends on the individual service. Some also provide you with a copy of your credit report. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that free services usually provide your VantageScore rather than your FICO score, which is a bit less useful (because more lenders use FICO).
Check on your lender’s website
If you have an account with a credit card company or another lender, they may provide you with free access to your credit score through your online account or on billing statements.
Credit Card Issuers That Provide Free Credit Scores
|Issuer||Credit scoring model used||Update frequency|
|Capital One||VantageScore 3.0||Weekly|
|American Express||VantageScore 3.0||Monthly|
|Bank of America||FICO||Monthly|
Get it from FICO or the credit bureaus
If you’re willing to pay for your credit score, then you can purchase it directly from FICO, which offers both one-time and subscription credit products.
If you want to get your credit score for free, then you can also get it from any of the credit bureaus:
- Equifax: Offers your VantageScore 3.0
- Experian: Offers a free FICO credit score (FICO Score 8) (offered at FreeCreditScore.com)
- TransUnion: Offers VantageScore 3.0 through select partners (e.g., banks, credit unions, apps, and websites)
Contact a nonprofit credit counselor
Credit counseling agencies may be able to provide you with your credit scores and credit reports. They can also give you advice on debt management.
What’s the difference between checking your credit report and credit score?
There’s a difference between your credit report and credit score. Your credit report is a complete record of your credit activities, and as mentioned, your credit score is a 3-digit number that’s generated from the information on your report.
You can check both your credit score and credit report as often as you want, but most people check their credit reports less frequently than their credit scores. There are two reasons for this:
- Checking your credit report is more complicated: You can get your credit report from all three bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com. The process is fairly straightforward, but it’s still more involved than signing into your bank account to get your credit score. (For instance, you’ll have to enter your Social Security number and may need to provide other personal details.)
- Checking your report sometimes costs money: Each of the 3 main credit bureaus is obligated to give you one free copy of your credit report every year (currently one per week until the end of 2022). If you want to get your credit reports more often than that, you’ll have to pay for them.
Note that your credit report won’t necessarily include your credit score. In fact, it usually won’t—Experian sometimes includes your score along with your report, but the other bureaus don’t.
How often should you check your credit report?
If you’re like most people, it’s enough to review your credit reports once per year. It’s important to review them occasionally since you might catch errors or signs of fraud that aren’t reflected in your numerical score.
You should monitor your credit reports more closely if you’ve been the victim of identity theft or fraud in the past.