The Best Tools to Easily Monitor Your Credit Score
Posted: August 3 2020
By: Daniela Bucay
It seems like everywhere you turn, there's a new way to keep up with your health using your phone. Track your steps on a Fitbit, log your run with Strava, check your heart rate, and so on. Did you know you can use your smartphone to stay on top of your financial health?
Your credit score signals to lenders and credit card companies how healthy of a borrower you are and can have a big impact on your life. In this post, we detail some easy websites and apps to help you familiarize yourself with your credit score, monitor its changes, and hopefully improve it over time!
One of the OG credit monitoring solutions, Credit Karma boasts a user-friendly app and website that makes it easy to track your credit score. Not only does Credit Karma show you your TransUnion and Equifax credit scores, it also allows you to track the changes over time and explains what factors prompted each change. Please note, you will not see your FICO score with Credit Karma. You can see an overview of your credit scores and accounts, or you can view your full credit report.
Both the app and the website are very intuitive to use. The app has the added benefit of sending you notifications when your score changes, which can help you if you are actively monitoring your score. Credit Karma is also expanding beyond credit monitoring and has partnered with many credit card companies and lenders to provide a simple way to browse loans and credit cards that may be right for you. Because Credit Karma has access to your credit history, they can guide you towards offers you may prequalify for, so you can get an idea of what is available before you apply for anything and add an inquiry to your credit report.
At this time, Credit Karma also offers a cool feature called a Financial Relief Roadmap to help you manage during this pandemic. They put together a list of resources, from ways to pay for childcare and get food, to mental health resources near you. Best of all, Credit Karma is totally free! We highly recommend Credit Karma for its ease of use, variety of features, and informative content.
We at Fig love (and partner with) Credit Sesame, another powerhouse credit monitoring website and app. You can check your credit score, get your credit report, and get a free financial strategy from Credit Sesame. Like Credit Karma, Credit Sesame also offers free identity theft protection. In fact, Credit Sesame offers almost every feature Credit Karma does, plus a few more.
In addition to loan and card recommendations, a wealth of educational content, life insurance recommendations, and a breakdown of the best savings accounts and certificates of deposit to grow your savings fast, Credit Sesame now offers Sesame Cash. This is a digital bank account that comes with a debit card and offers some pretty awesome rewards for a limited time, like giving you a little bonus for growing your credit score! If you're looking into getting away from a bank with physical locations and onto a free online bank account, we really recommend Sesame Cash!
As one of the 3 major credit bureaus, TransUnion offers reliable insights into and advice for improving your credit score. They have their own app that can show you your credit score, according to your report with TransUnion. Like the others above, TransUnion does not report your FICO score, so please do not confuse them!
Their app is somewhat less user-friendly than Credit Karma and Credit Sesame's, but if you are wary about giving your information to a third party and want to get your information straight from the credit bureau, TransUnion does make it easy.
Experian, another major credit bureau, also has its own app. Getting your free credit score with Experian will show you both your VantageScore (developed by TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) and your FICO score. This differentiates Experian from some of the other options on this list.
Beyond scores and credit reports, Experian also offers a paid service called Experian Boost, which the website implies you will get for free once when you register, and which helps you improve your FICO score. If you plan on monitoring your credit score with one credit bureau, we recommend using Experian because of the features they offer and the overall improved experience on their website and app.
Ah, Mint. This app, now owned by Intuit (the makers of TurboTax and QuickBooks), was one of the pioneers of app-based financial management. They offer a really comprehensive way to manage all of your personal finances. If you like having everything in one place, Mint might be right for you, as you can view your savings, checking, investment, and retirement accounts all in one place.
On top of giving you a central dashboard of all of your accounts, Mint provides free credit scores and reports via Equifax. You can also use Mint to create a budget, so if you are having a hard time managing your credit or lowering expenses, Mint can help!
Not to be confused with Clarity Services, a part of Experian, the money management app Clarity provides an alternative to Mint. This app, a part of Marcus, which is Goldman Sachs' consumer finance arm, makes budgeting easy.
Like Mint, Clarity allows you to track your spending by category. By using Clarity, I learned that I spend most of my money on food and shop for clothes and stuff less than I thought. As my financial guru and boss (and Fig cofounder) John advises, before you can rein in your spending, you must first understand where you spend. Clarity makes this visually very simple and offers other features to help you lower your spending, like tracking subscriptions (you can cancel them in-app!).
In addition to corralling all your accounts into one easy-to-view page, Clarity shows you very quickly your Vantage score as provided by Experian. When you see your score, it will also tell you if it has increased or decreased and break down the factors affecting your score positively and negatively in a very easy to use way. It is a very user-friendly app with good customer service, and I enjoy using it to track and improve my financial habits.
One thing to note about both Mint (last I checked) and Clarity is that you cannot get a 100% complete view of your finances because they do not integrate with Venmo or CashApp. If you tend to hold money in either of those accounts, as opposed to always cashing out your money to your actual bank account, then your overall numbers within Clarity and Mint will be off a bit. If you understand your Venmo and CashApp spending well, though, then there is nothing to worry about!
Like stepping on the scale, checking your credit score can be nerve-wracking. If, however, you want improve your credit to gain access to better loans, more rewarding credit cards, and sometimes even better housing options, you will need to start managing your credit more actively. The six tools we outlined above can help you embark on that journey in a less painful way!
How do you track and manage your credit? What has helped you improve your credit score? Do you use a budgeting app, or do you prefer to budget in a more analog way? We're listening to your answers at firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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