Credit Score and What it Means to You
If you are buying a house and you cannot pay all cash, your credit score is on your mind. Items on your credit profile can prevent you from purchasing a home, no matter how high your income is. This is not the first time this has been written, but it’s written because it’s true.
Vantage vs. FICO Credit Score
The free sites are great! Use these when you need to see where you are in reference to your credit profile. You can get a free score(s) by visiting several vendor sites that offer credit services such as Credit Karma, Credit Sesame and Credit.com. The scores given by free sites and most of the paid credit monitoring services are Vantage scores.
Vantage scores are a relatively new scoring system developed by the credit bureaus; TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. These scores serve as a good benchmark which you can use to help track the condition/progress of your credit.
When a credit grantor (credit cards, banks, mortgage brokers, auto loans) runs your credit, over 90% of the time your score is calculated using the FICO scoring system. The only credit service that will calculate your real FICO score is MyFico.com. Getting your FICO score cost money. I would suggest pulling this right before you are ready to purchase something to get a better idea of where you are on the credit scale. It’s not a bad idea to pull it once when you being your journey of monitoring your credit and once later on before you buy or after major progress, but if you worried about the cost then just pull before you apply for credit.
By law, you get at least one free credit report per year from each bureau. If you have not gotten a free credit report this year, start with annualcreditreport.com.
Make sure to download a copy of your report and keep it in a safe place, especially if you have derogatory marks. Derogatory accounts on your report can affect your ability to purchase a house or car. At least one of the bureaus will tell you when these negative accounts are removed from your report. The other bureaus will have a date not far behind the one you are looking at. Keep a copy of this report for your records. Refer back to it to keep track of your progress.
The free annual reports do not give credit scores – for that you have to pay. But, they will give you the chance to dispute items and correct the information that appears on your profile. DO NOT DISPUTE CREDIT ISSUES ONLINE! Read more about disputing credit issues here.