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It’s important to know you credit score when applying for a credit card, auto loan, mortgage, or any other form of credit. It will help you calculate your chances of getting approved as well as whether you should apply or not. Each time you apply, your credit score is most likely going to lower, only making it more difficult for the next time.
Fortunately, there are currently two services that let you check your credit score for absolutely free, and also see why you have the score that you do. No credit card required.
Credit Sesame is one of the online services that allows you to check your credit score for free. One of the great things about them is that you get your score almost instantly upon sign-up, and break it down from a rating from very poor to excellent. If you have a score of 750 or higher, you credit score will be marked as “excellent,” meaning you’ll be eligible for a lot of credit cards, auto loans, etc.
Credit Sesame gives you recommendations of the top credit cards that you can apply for based on your score. They won’t recommend anything that’s out of your range, and try to suggest the card that gives the best benefits. For example, I currently have a credit score deemed as “excellent,” and they recommend the Chase Slate card. This card offers 0% APR for the first 15 months of opening an account, an attribute that can’t normally be given to others with low credit scores.
Credit Sesame will also give you a full analysis on why your credit score is what it is. They give you a grade on certain sections to see where you can improve as well.For example, they tell you how many late payments you’ve made, and also the length of your credit history. The longer your credit history, the higher your score tends to be, and so on. Here are the current things that they measure:
- Age of credit history
- Number of derogatory payments
- Credit utilization
- Account Mix
- Credit inquiries
Grades are updated on a weekly basis so you can assure that you’re always getting the latest score. They definitely do a much better job here than Credit Karma.
If you’re looking to consolidate your debt, Credit Sesame quickly tells you where your debt is and tells you how much of your income actually goes to debt payments. For me personally, this has been a great way for me to quickly organize my funds and calculate how much of my paycheck goes toward paying off bills. It just makes it that much less stressful.
Credit Sesame does have other services that they offer such as identity protection alerts, but if you’re looking to quickly check your credit score, this service is not necessary since it costs money.
The other service that we’re recommending you to use is called Credit Karma. They work in much the same way as Credit Sesame but with a few minor differences. Between the two, I personally prefer this one since the layout is a little bit nicer to use. The first thing I notice immediately is that when I login, I can check both my TransUnion and Equifax scores (see the difference here).
Like Credit Sesame, Credit Karma also lists credit cards that you are eligible for. However, one key difference is that they note your chances of actually getting approved, making me feel more confident when applying. It’s not a good idea to apply for a credit card just to see if you will get approved, as each time you apply credit card companies have to do what’s card a “hard inquiry,” thus lowering your credit score slightly. Furthermore, they usually give a lot more details on the benefits of each card.
Credit Sesame definitely trumps in this section, as they tend to give you more detail and also a grade of where your score was at. I noticed that on Credit Karma I didn’t have a section for how many hard inquiries I had made. This was especially frustrating because lately I’ve been applying for cards only to receive the message that I’ve lately been asking for too much credit. Had I been using Credit Sesame, I might’ve known sooner and thus held off on applying for cards and lowering my score.
One thing I especially like about Credit Karma is that they offer you solutions for specific types of debt. Whether it be bankruptcy or having a tough time paying off a mortgage, they’ll work with you to offer a particular solution, going through a series of questions to meet your specific needs.
Credit Karma definitely wins when it comes to offering the best credit cards with the best rewards as well as excellent debt solutions.
It doesn’t matter which of the two services you use as long as you’re getting the help you need to maintain your credit to help you manage your lifestyle accordingly. If you’re checking your credit because you’re about to make a big life decision such as buying a house, we suggest the following:
Thanks for reading, and if you have any other questions regarding credit scores or anything else at all, feel free to leave them in the comments below. Take care and happy frugaling.