Man holding cellphone with free credit score on screen
Several years ago, there was no such thing as a free credit score. In order to view their credit scores, Ohio consumers had to pay a fee – each and every time. Now, there are dozens of websites offering free credit scores. Does this mean that Ohioans never have to pay for credit scores again? Not necessarily. There are times when spending money on a credit score might make sense. Also, Ohio consumers should be careful about where they get their free credit scores. Every source comes with different strings attached, and some are more secure than others. As with anything credit-related, finding the right credit score source requires a little research.

Ohioans should Understand that Free Credit Scores aren’t like SAT Scores

On Credit.com, Christine DiGangi wrote about credit scores, “There is no one real score. It’s not like the SATs.” This is absolutely true. Because there are many credit scoring models in use, one Ohio consumer might find a hundred different versions of their credit score. These different versions may vary by a few points, or there might be a substantial margin between one credit score and another. For example, a Forbes writer claimed that there was a 150 points difference between his CreditKarma.com score and his FICO score.

Typically, lenders and credit card issuers use older versions of FICO credit scores (which you normally have to pay for, unless offered as a perk by your bank or credit card provider). Sites like CreditKarma.com and WalletHub.com usually give out VantageScores or “educational credit scores.” The VantageScore was created by the major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Educational credit scores, on the other hand, can come from a number of different sources. These free credit scores are meant to give Ohioans a “ballpark figure,” or an idea of where they stand with their credit. However, these scores probably don’t reflect what a lender will actually see when they check your credit rating.

When it might pay for Ohioans to Spend Money on Credit Scores

Before financing a large purchase, like a car or home, Ohio consumers should check their credit reports and credit scores. Knowing exactly where you stand with your credit before applying for loans is crucial for two reasons. First, you need to make sure that your credit score is high enough to get loan approval. You don’t want to risk the hard inquiry on your credit reports unless you’re going after a reasonably sure thing. Next, your credit score determines your interest rate. Knowing your score ahead of time will help you negotiate the best rate for which you qualify.

Because credit scores matter so much when you’re applying for an auto loan or a mortgage, this is a time when it might make sense to purchase your FICO score. This way, you’re more likely to know what your credit score looks like to the lender. It’s a good advantage to have.

Having access to a free credit score is best for everyday credit-checking. For example, if you’re in the process of building or rebuilding credit, having the means to track your progress is helpful. For this, a good strategy is to pick one free credit score provider as your go-to source. Because free, educational credit scores aren’t always 100% accurate, consistently looking at one will at least tell you if your rating is going up or down.

Tips for Ohio Consumers Shopping for Free Credit Scores

Normally, free credit scores come from credit card companies or third-party sites like CreditSesame.com, NerdWallet.com, or the very popular CreditKarma.com. When Ohio consumers are looking for a free credit score, they should remember that these scores are offered by businesses. Because these organizations are businesses, they have to make money. This is usually done in one of three ways.

Credit card companies may entice you with free credit scores as an incentive to apply for one of their credit cards. Third party sites may also offer credit cards, or they might make their money on subscription credit monitoring services. Some websites may even sell consumer data to other companies. So make sure to read all of the fine print before signing up with any website offering free credit scores.

Ohioans should also make sure that any time they share information in exchange for free credit scores, they do so on secure sites only. Even if sites are secure, data breaches can happen. This is another reason why it’s better to pick one free credit score site and stick with it. Signing up with multiple sites means sharing your data multiple times. This greatly increases your risk of being targeted by identity thieves.

How Ohio Consumers can get a Better Credit Score Right Now

Having errors removed from your credit reports can instantly improve your credit score. This is why Ohio consumers should check their credit reports at least every 12 months. It’s the only way to be sure that credit reporting mistakes aren’t bringing down your credit score.

If you do find inaccuracies on a credit report from TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian, you can dispute these errors in writing and have them removed. Ohioans who want to simplify this process and ensure that it is done correctly can get a FREE credit repair lawyer to help.

The Free and Legal way to Get Better Credit

Don’t let errors on your credit reports bring your credit score down. At the Law Offices of Gary D. Nitzkin, P.C., we’ve been cleaning up credit reports for consumers since 2008 for free. How do we do it? The law allows us to collect our fees and costs from the defendants in any successful action.  This is why our clients pay nothing for the work we do.

Let’s start the conversation about what we can do for your credit. Set up your free consultation today by calling Attorney Gary Nitzkin at (216)358-0591 or sending him a message through our contact page.