By Lauren Steffens
You’re a grad student. You’ve had a credit card for a couple of years, and you’ve been responsible.
In fact, thanks to the Credit Card Act of 2009, it;s rare that you could get a credit card under your own name until you were 21 and had an income. That’s because credit card companies were now forbidden to basically hand out credit cards to college freshmen.
Headlines have talked about the Equifax breach that exposed as many as 142 million Americans. So, now that you have your good credit, how do you protect it?
First, sign up for two free services, both of which had mobile apps. I like Credit Karma, which gives me my credit score for TransUnion and Equifax. It lets me see what accounts are listed, as well as amount owed, and other credit factors such as late payments. It also tells me the odds of me applying to get an additional credit card, which helps me improve my credit scores. It also gives me better interest rates.
Credit Karma will even let you fill out an electronic form to dispute what you feel might be misleading information on your credit file.
Credit Sesame gives you a composite score instead of the individual scores. It also offers credit cards — in fact it will tell you what credit score is needed for each of their recommended cards.
The last one is Discover Card’s free FICO store – that abbreviation stands for the San Jose analytics company that compiles it, Fair and Isaacs and Company. They use Experian data to power that score.
So, if you sign up for all three, it should give you a clear picture of exactly what is going on with your credit. Yes, you can sign up for credit monitoring, but these free sites give you more detail.
Credit Karma and Credit Sesame update information weekly, but you can get your FICO score – which is what you’ll need to get a car loan or even rent an apartment – only monthly.
Fortunately, all these services remind you when your credit score has been updated. This is a skill that you should learn – how to monitor your own good credit.
Lauren E. Steffens is a part-time graduate student at the University of Missouri. She holds a BFA in art and a bachelors of journalism from Mizzou.