View all FICO Scores & Credit Reports articles

When, Why and How Often Should You Check Your FICO® Score? It depends...

, by Rob Kaufman

Everyone's financial situation is different, which is why the answer to this question should be different as well. Online search results for "How often should I review my credit score?" tend to differ in opinion. Some think checking your credit score once a year is enough while others feel anywhere from three to four times a year is mandatory. The real answer should be based on what helps you feel comfortable.

For instance, if you're always anxious that you might become a victim of identity theft, you'll probably want to check your score more often than not. However, if your concern is time-specific in nature, like whether or not you'll be turned down for an auto loan, checking your credit score just once in a while might work better for you.

Because credit scores are based on the information within your credit reports, your score can change every day. With that in mind, consider the reasons you might want to check your FICO® Scores and how that might determine how often you should check them.

  • Ensure the accuracy of your credit information.

With your credit report data from all three credit reporting agencies changing all the time, it's important to keep an eye out for errors. A lower-than-expected credit score could mean a simple data entry mistake, an unauthorized inquiry or maybe something even more sinister.

  • Keep an eye on identity thieves.

If a criminal steals your identity and makes purchases, opens accounts or takes out loans in your name, your credit score will be one of the first things to reflect the theft. The changes to your credit report caused by the criminal's actions will affect your credit score factors (starting, most likely, with an increase in Credit Utilization) and will often result in a lower credit score.

  • Be prepared for application decisions.

When taking out a home mortgage or an auto loan, one of the first things the creditor will check is your credit score. (BTW, did you know there are specific scores for mortgage and auto lending?) It's good to know where you stand before applying for these loans so you'll be prepared - whether the news ends up being good or bad.

  • Keep your credit in tip-top shape.

You never know when your car might break down and you'll need a new one... or if you'll want to refinance your mortgage before interest rates rise again. For these reasons and others, it's important to frequently check your credit score and either maintain it (if it's high) or improve it, if it's low. Improving your credit score takes time so consistently monitoring and maintaining it can help you avoid future problems.

Once you've increased your score, you can apply for cards that benefit you best - such as those with lower interest rates or better rewards. You can even use your higher score to have current creditors lower your rate. Being fully informed about your credit score gives you the knowledge you need to ensure you're getting the credit (and financial benefits) you deserve.

As you can see, there are a variety of reasons why it's important to know your credit score. Therefore, a single answer to the question, "When, why and how often should I check my credit score?" would not be inappropriate. To answer this question, you have to take your individual circumstances into account (both financial and psychological) in order to reach the correct decision for you .

See how often members at the myFICO forums check their credit scores. You never know what secrets you might learn!

Rob Kaufman

Rob is a writer... of blogs, books and business. His financial investment experience combined with a long background in marketing credit protection services provides a source of information that helps fill the gaps on one's journey toward financial well-being. His goal is simple: The more people he can help, the better.