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”
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.