Credit.com offers free credit scores as well as paid services surrounding credit advice. The website offers helpful tools, most of which are free. Keep reading to find out if they’re actually what you need to track and fix your own credit.
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Is Credit.com really free?
If you’re in search of a free educational credit score, then yes, Credit.com is a good place to go. But it’s important to realize that you don’t receive your actual FICO credit score for free, which is what most lenders use to evaluate your application for any type of financing.
Still, you don’t need to enter a credit card to access your free score from Credit.com. So it’s a low-risk way to get a baseline of where your score is at the moment. There’s also no impact on your credit report or score when accessing your own information.
Another truly free service you can receive from Credit.com is a credit report card. This tool analyzes your credit report and tells you what type of entries may be negatively affecting your score. It’s actually helpful because although it’s easy to understand how your credit score is calculated in general, it may be difficult to apply it specifically to your own credit report.
The credit report card is a free way to find out what kind of changes you can make to start improving your score. Plus, it updates every 30 days so you can track your progress.
How does Credit.com make money?
Nothing in this world is entirely free and Credit.com does have ways to make money, even if it also offers free services. Its primary revenue streams come from selling FICO credit scores and offering comprehensive packages for credit monitoring and identity theft protection.
Credit.com also receives compensation through various offers throughout the website. They’re not an entirely neutral third party because they receive a commission when users select financial products from the website. Any place where they promote loan offers or other financial services is probably sponsored.
Is your credit score from Credit.com accurate?
As we mentioned earlier, Credit.com does not offer a FICO credit score as part of its free promotion. Instead, you actually receive two sets of scores: one from the credit bureau Experian and one called the VantageScore 3.0.
These scoring models are certainly reputable and use the same exact information as FICO to come up with your credit score, so in that sense they are accurate. But the truth remains that the vast majority of lenders and creditors in the U.S. today still use various versions of the FICO score to evaluate applicants.
Since each specific credit scoring company uses its own algorithms, none of them will be 100% identical. So you might find a significant discrepancy between your free credit scores from Credit.com and your actual scores used during credit applications.
The difference of just a few points can impact how much you can borrow and what interest rate you pay. If you’re on the border between two different credit categories, a seemingly nominal difference in score can actually end up being a big deal in getting approved and at the rates you want.
On top of that, most lenders check all three credit bureau scores, including Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. They often use the middle number so even a single score from an actual credit union may not be representative of what would be used during the credit application process.
If you’re applying jointly, such as getting a mortgage with your spouse, lenders most often use the middle score that’s lower out of the two applicants. So your scores from Credit.com can be educational, but they won’t be exactly what your lender sees.
What other services does Credit.com offer?
In addition to the free credit scores, Credit.com also has a variety of other services. We’ll talk more about the free report card, as well as some paid services you can take advantage of if they seem right for you.
There are always pros and cons to any financial product and we’ll help you see where Credit.com may or may not stand out. Then you can pick and choose which ones sound like they’d be helpful in managing your finances.
Credit Report Card
We’ve already talked a little bit about the credit report card and now we’ll go in-depth about this free and helpful resource. Your report card helps you understand what exactly the information on your credit card means in relation to your credit health.
First, your report shows a snapshot of your payment history. You’ll see a percentage of how frequently you’re on time with your reported payments, as well as a score on a range anywhere from “very poor” to “excellent.” You know that if your payments have been less than 100% on time, you have some work to do.
Another helpful part of the report card is an analysis of your existing debt. You’ll see a visual of how much outstanding debt you have compared to your overall credit limit. It puts all of this financial information in one place without having to worry about pulling together all of your loan and credit card statements.
You’ll also see your debt to limit ratio, which is the percentage of your credit limits that are currently outstanding. If it’s a high percentage, you can start focusing on paying that excessive debt.
The next section of your credit report card shows the age of your credit history. You can even see the average length of your accounts, which is a factor used in all credit scoring models to some degree.
Finally, you can get a visual representation of your credit mix to see how your accounts are spread out over different types of credit lines. That can help you see if you’re too heavy on credit cards or other types of financing. You definitely get a ton of helpful information from the credit report card, especially considering that it’s entirely free.
Custom Action Plan
Once you know where your credit health stands from your report card, you can figure out how to fix any issues with a free custom action plan from Credit.com.
They say it’s prepared by credit experts but it’s likely that a computer analyzes your information and gives you stock advice written by the experts. But it can still be valuable information to use. So what kind of advice will you receive with your custom action plan?
It takes you step by step through your credit report card and gives you action items based on the information you’ve already seen. While you may be able to assume much of the information, it’s helpful to check the list and see if you’ve missed anything.
You might get tips on how to lower your credit utilization ratio or how to manage your existing accounts to maximize your credit age. You might even get ideas on how to diversify your credit mix to increase your score.
As part of your free Credit.com account, you also get access to basic free credit monitoring. This basically just updates all of the free services every two weeks to one month. So whenever your information is updated with the credit bureaus, you’ll receive a new free educational score, report card, and custom action plan.
It’s an easy and cheap way to track your progress and see what changes are actually working for you. And even if your credit score isn’t exact, you can at least tell which direction it’s moving!
In addition to the free bi-weekly/monthly credit monitoring, you can also sign up for a more comprehensive paid service with Credit.com. This package deal comes in partnership with Experian and FICO.
You’ll get access to your full Experian credit report as well as your actual FICO score, so you can see exactly what lenders are seeing, at least from one of the credit bureaus. Remember, many lenders look at all three credit bureaus, so even this score may not be the exact number used in your financing application.
With this package, you can also access your credit information anytime, day or night, through the Credit.com website. Although you have to pay for this service, another major perk is that you get an instant alert when your credit report or FICO score has any change. So you literally get real-time monitoring of your credit.
If you’re actively working to rebuild your credit, this could potentially be a worthwhile service for you. The credit monitoring package also includes ID theft protection. This includes professional help in restoring your financial health in the event your credit identity is stolen.
Credit.com’s credit monitoring package is part of a program called Experian CreditWorks. You can start off with a $1 free trial where you’ll get your Experian credit report and your current FICO 8 score.
You can check out the program for a seven-day trial, after which point you’ll be automatically billed each month unless you cancel your subscription. The monthly fee after the trial period is $21.95. To get your credit reports and FICO scores from all three credit bureaus, you can pay a one-time fee of $39.95.
Credit.com also serves as a resource for offers on various financial products. We talked about this when discussing how the website generates income. But in reality, this isn’t an uncommon practice for any content website devoted to personal finance.
Credit.com is upfront with its advertiser disclosure, stating that the products they offer and how they appear on the website may be influenced by how they’re compensated. So it’s important for you to do your own independent research on how great an offer is, rather than trusting Credit.com to only provide you with the best options.
The biggest section of product offers on Credit.com is its Loans page. You can view all types of loans at once, or navigate by specific categories. The options available include personal loans, student loans, mortgages, auto loans, and debt consolidation loans.
All of the loans discussed anywhere on Credit.com are from third party lenders who have partnerships with Credit.com, rather than being loans originated directly through the website. You can search by your credit rating and loan amount or scroll through every lender partner to view their general terms.
If you do choose a lender through Credit.com, you’ll simply be redirected to the lender’s page to go through the application process. Credit.com also has limited partnerships with two credit repair companies: Lexington Law and CreditRepair.com. You can read a review of each one to learn more information. For more in-depth reviews and a greater selection of credit repair companies, check out our own review guide.
Credit.com is a professional company with a large footprint in the online credit space. They certainly offer reputable tools that can be helpful in some situations, many of which are free. While their free resources aren’t entirely comprehensive, they’re useful for getting your feet wet with what’s going on with your credit.
If you’re already well on your way to repairing your credit, some more in-depth counseling or service may be of greater benefit. Still, Credit.com offers risk-free checks on your credit, and even consistent monitoring to see how you’re doing.