Know Your Credit Score? (Mine Is Eh)

Could not care less about your credit score

Why you might want to know this: “Hey, baby, what’s your credit score?” said no one cool, ever. But banks and lenders and landlords all want to know what’s up: are you to be trusted with their money? Credit agencies calculate your credit score using proprietary algorithms meant to figure out how likely you are to default on loans, basically. Different companies have their own algorithms, and your score varies from company to company. Just get one score. It’s enough to know how good at being a grown-up you are.

Why you may not care: If you’re not going to finance a car or a house or try to get approved for an apartment on your own , you probably don’t need to know/care about your credit score. (I mean, you can become a TSA PreCheck traveller without a score, so anything is possible, really, except getting a car loan with a reasonable rate, etc.) But if you’re going to bow out of the system, you better bow out of the whole system. Without a good credit score, you always won’t qualify for any of the “good” credit cards (that’s an oxymoron) and you are pretty much resigning yourself to a no-credit lifestyle, which, might be kind of great for you, actually. I’m jealous. (You can still get credit if you have no credit, but you’ll get screwed on interest rates.)

Level of painfulness: Not that bad. Google it, and the Internet will make you think you have to pay money to get your score. Nope. Creditkarma.com will give you your score for free in exchange for peeping some ads for credit card offers, and you can get three different scores without paying (or even getting your wallet, which is way over there).

How to get it done:
1. Go to Creditkarma.com

2. Create an account and answer all their questions, it’s fine. Do it.

3. And there are three of your credit scores, all provided by Transunion. They mean … different things. I read about the differences a few times but didn’t really understand. I don’t think it matters really.

4. For fun, compare your scores to mine:

Insurance score: 890, “Good”
Transrisk: 717,”Good”
Vantagescore: 685, “D”

5. So I got two “goods” and a “D”, which is the worst grade I’ve gotten on anything, but I’m okay with it. It’s fine. Who cares. I don’t! But I have the luxury of that because: I already have a car loan with a sick interest rate (from back in the day when my credit score was stellar), and I’m not planning on borrowing money for any reason anytime soon. I can imagine scenarios in which I would want a better credit score (wake up tomorrow, want to buy house), but for my life right now, it’s not a thing.

The more you know: So the best part of getting your actual credit score (ha, “best part”), is that they tell you why it is the way it is, and in turn, what you might do if you were inclined to fix it. Here’s a telling line from my own notifications:

You are currently using 69% of your available credit card limits.

Which translates as basically, stop opening credit cards, you idiot, and also, pay off the ones you open. Which: I didn’t need a credit score to tell me, but it is nice to have the reminder, sure.

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6 Comments / Post A Comment

jenfizz (#100)

What do we do to fix it though? I had some medical bills from a hit and run three years ago that went to creditors before I could pay them off. I settled with the creditors but that shit is still there haunting my credit score.

@jenfizz This is something we intend to cover! Very soon. VERY SOON.

nyikin (#32)

…Three credit scores? There’s more than one?! Whattt is FICO then? Aaaah, I remain completely befuddled by this whole credit score thing.

@nykin – Yes, there are WAY more than just one credit score. You actually have dozens. Credit scoring models are created based on who is pulling/purchasing them. For instance, the credit score you buy from some service will vary from the one your mortgage lender pulls to assess you for credit. It’s a business.

You can always check your credit score for free on CreditKarma.com, though, and follow the changes that occur with free credit monitoring.

@logan – actually, “You are currently using 69% of your available credit card limits” refers specifically to the fact that you’re currently carrying more credit card debt that creditors will deem appropriate. They’ll see it as risky to lend to you. BUT this is also a number that you can adjust from month to month.

Bethy @ CreditKarma.com

scarney (#439)

I’ve been told that checking your credit score actually hurts your credit. Is that a myth?

Mike Dang (#2)

@scarney What hurts your credit score (slightly) is when you do things like apply for credit, and the institution checks your credit score to see if you are credit-worthy. Checking your score yourself shouldn’t hurt you.

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