Three Easy Steps to a Free Credit Score

There are several websites that offer free credit scores. With all of these options, why should you choose LendingTree's free credit score? Because the process with LendingTree is quick, user-friendly, and easy to understand. And unlike other sites, it's 100 percent free, they don't ask for your credit card number and there's no obligation of any kind. Let's take a look at just how easy it is to get your free credit score.

Step #1: of Answer a Few Questions

LendingTree asks for a few pieces of information -- things like your name, address, birthday, last four digits of your Social Security number -- to confirm your identity before releasing information. This is important and it should make you feel good about the level of security you have with LendingTree. LendingTree takes your privacy and security very seriously, so you can relax and enter the information requested. Once you're done, you're ready to move on to the next step. Sounds easy enough, right?

Step #2: Get Your Free Credit Score

After you've proven that you are who you say you are, you get your free score. No hoops to jump through. Seriously! It really is so simple and the score is in big type. If you have a very good score, you'll enjoy seeing this. If your score is low, this might not be a happy experience for you. But try not to fret about it. If your score needs to improve, you can start working on that. A lot of people are in the same boat with you.

The important thing is that now you know where you stand. Whether you have bad credit or excellent credit, information is empowering. That's why getting your credit score from LendingTree is so valuable. So take a good look at your score and then, on the same page, you can review the factors involved.

Step #3: Break it Down!

Look at the top of your screen. There's a link in the upper right side that says "CreditXXX," where the XXX is your score. Click on that, and you'll see how different parts of your report affected your score.

Your score is broken down into six factors. LendingTree shows you the reasons your score is what it is, and indicates the impact each factor has on your individual score. Let's take a quick look at each factor:

  • Payment History: If you don't have late payments, give yourself a gold star. Paying your bills -- all of them--on time is essential if you want a healthy credit score.
  • Depth of Credit: This refers to the types of credit you have. For instance, credit card accounts, car loans, mortgages, and so on. Consumers with a mix of credit tend to fare better than those with nothing but credit cards.
  • Utilization: This is a ratio and it's the amount of credit you've used compared to the amount of credit you have available. If you have a $1,000 line of credit and carrya $600 balance, your utilization ratio is 60 percent.
  • Balances: This shows the total of your balances and number of late payments. There's the payment history factor creeping in again.
  • Recent Credit: Have you applied for credit recently?
  • Available Credit: The amount of all of your credit limits.

You can click on each factor and you'll get a more detailed explanation about what it means and what you can do to improve this part of your score. This is one of the best features of LendingTree's free credit score. Not only do you get your score, you get free advice that's specific to your situation. For example, if you have a collection account, you'll get advice regarding how it affects your score along with some tips about dealing with it.

Also, you'll see a breakdown of "Your Active Credit Accounts." For example if you have three credit cards and a car loan, you'll see it broken down here.

The VantageScore 3.0

The score you receive is called a VantageScore 3.0. The VantageScore was developed by the three national credit reporting companies (CRCs) — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax, and it's accepted widely -- in fact, six of the ten largest banks in the US pull VantageScores. The latest version of VantageScore has adopted the same point scale as the FICO score, but the factors and the weight of each factor differ a little.

It's important to understand that the credit scores available to consumers, including the VantageScore, are considered educational and can differ from the report a lender might see. For example, there are over 40 different FICO scores out there -- for mortgage lenders, auto finance companies, insurance providers, landlords and others -- in addition to the score you, the consumer, can purchase at the government's annualcreditreport.com site. With LendingTree's free credit score, you can see what category your credit falls within (e.g., fair, good, and so on) and how you're doing in each factor that makes up the score.

Staying on top of your credit can help you maintain a healthy financial life. Your VantageScore is updated monthly, and you can keep track of your score and credit life for free at LendingTree.

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