Credit Karma Can Lower Your Score

The best free credit score apps

Your credit score determines the interest rate. These lenders will charge you debt (and whether you can get a loan at all). That means your creditworthiness affects everything you buy - your car, your home, and even your education. It makes sense not only to keep track of your credit score, but also to take the necessary steps to improve it. These apps help you with both tasks.

Will checking my credit score affect my credit score?

No. Your credit check is usually a "soft request" or a "soft pickup," which means it will not affect your creditworthiness. This is different from "hard requests" do Influence Your Credit Score; which happen when you apply for things like credit cards or loans. A great article by Credit Karma highlights the difference between the two types of inquiries if you want to learn more.

And so we come to the apps.

Credit Karma: Best for Most People

Credit karma is perhaps the most popular free credit check service that we think works best for most people. Creating an account is quick and you don't even have to share your credit card number. The score is updated on a weekly basis with a "soft pull" so that your credit score is not affected at all.

Credit Karma will deduct your credit report from Equifax and TransUnion - both using VantageScore 3.0. Your credit report will include a testimonial detailing the factors that will affect your creditworthiness. You can check your credit score as often as you like, and changes in your score will indicate whether or not your score is improving. Credit Karma allows you to review the various accounts that make up your credit report, so you can always see what's up-to-date on your report.

Credit Karma's iOS and Android apps will also alert you to important changes in your creditworthiness and let you report any disputes.

Mint: Not bad, especially if you're already using mint

Mint is a well-known personal financial services company with helpful apps that allow you to check your accounts and current financial status on the go. In 2016, Mint added a credit check feature accessible through the iOS and Android apps.

The Mint Credit Score Service is free. It is available quarterly and has an Equifax score with three offices (Equifax, TransUnion, Experian). You will receive your credit score and a summary of your credit report.

Mint also offers a Mint Credit Monitor service for $ 16.99 per month. Get a monthly Equifax score from all three offices, a full monthly credit report, identity monitoring, and many more features.

In general, we recommend Credit Karma over Mint's service. Even if Credit Karma only offers your score and report from two sources (Equifax and TransUnion), you will receive updates much more frequently. If you have a specific need for the Experian report or are already using Mint, the Mint service may work better for you.

Experian: Limited but free and useful for Experian scores

You may have noticed that we both use the Experian credit model discussed so far. Wouldn't it be great if you got your credit information straight from them? Yes you can. Experian offers a free credit report service for iOS and Android apps. You can get an updated Experian Credit Report from any app every 30 days.

Should You Pay For Your Credit Score?

Since you can find out your credit score for free in the apps described above, you may be wondering if it makes sense to pay for your credit score.

The vast majority of the time the answer is no; free credit score apps should be fine. A big exception is when you apply for a mortgage. Mortgage lenders sometimes use different versions of a FICO score. It is helpful to know which version the mortgage company is using before applying. A difference of a few points in a score can affect your interest, and even minor changes in interest rates can have a big impact on long-term loans such as mortgages. You can tell the difference for yourself using the CFPB Mortage Rate Tool. When you order a FICO score direct from source, you can view multiple versions of your score.

Photo credit: a photo / shutterstock