Your credit scores. New sites give you free estimates and help

There is not just one credit score; there are many. For information on the different scores and what goes into them, see our main archive article on Credit Scores.

The standard way to understand your credit score and status is to get free credit reports from the three major reporting bureaus. They will send you one free report per year. You can get them at www.annualcreditreport.com

If you do ask for your free credit reports you will get a lot of information that is hard to understand. It is useful, but it takes work. And you probably will not get a useful credit score unless you pay for it.

Recently the Wall Street Journal reviewed three sites that fill in the gaps. One way or another, they give you a free peek at your estimated credit score in the hope that you will buy more services and information. I checked all three sites and found that “free” applied only to two of them, despite what the Journal article said.

The first site, www.credit.com, won’t give you anything free as far as I can tell unless you subscribe to one of several different credit checking services they offer. The cheapest one will cost you almost $120 a year.

Two other sites, www.creditkarma.com and www.quizzle.com are actually free, and as the Journal article said “…offer a window into the key factors that go into calculating your scores, what you can do to improve them and how your credit stacks up against others.”

Quizzle, in particular, offers several free tools, like budgeting tools and credit repair tools, that you might find useful. We did not try them since you have to register.

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