Does checking your credit score lower it?
A common misconception about checking your credit score is that it will lower or hurt your score. However, that’s typically not the case when you’re checking it yourself.
Soft vs. hard credit inquiry
Credit monitoring services allow you to check your credit score and credit report without impacting your score. That’s because these services typically use a “soft” credit inquiry instead of a “hard” credit inquiry.
The difference between the two? A “soft” inquiry won’t show up on your credit report, so you won’t see an impact on your credit score. On the other hand, a “hard” credit inquiry shows up on your credit report and is visible to other lenders. Banks and other Financial Institutions will usually do a hard credit check when you’re interested in borrowing money.
Check out our in-depth comparison between a soft and hard credit check in this article.
Why it’s important to monitor your credit
Monitoring your credit score and report can help you to develop credit-building habits. You may not realize how some of your habits are contributing to a lower score until you start paying attention to your credit report. Plus, regularly reviewing your credit report can help you identify potentially fraudulent or suspicious activity. The sooner you’re aware of this activity, the better your chances of protecting yourself from further damage to your credit score.
What’s the best way to check my credit score?
Here are some best practices to keep in mind while monitoring your credit:
- Find a reputable credit monitoring service: Make sure the company you’re using will pull your credit score using a soft inquiry. You can order your credit report, or view it online from the two main credit bureaus in Canada – Equifax or TransUnion. Learn how on the Government of Canada’s website.
- Try a free service to save money: You can pay for comprehensive credit monitoring and fraud protection packages. However, most people are just looking to get educated on their credit habits. If that’s you, try a free service. Just make sure it’s a responsible and safe company (which brings us to our next point).
- Careful! Beware of fraudulent scams: Most credit monitoring services will require you to provide your full or partial Social Insurance Number (SIN). Unfortunately, some credit monitoring companies are a scam in hopes of collecting your SIN number which puts you at risk of identity theft. So, do your research and make sure you’re using a reliable service.
- Sign up for fraud alters: Speaking of fraud, try signing up for alerts to better protect yourself from identity theft. Most credit monitoring services, banks and credit cards offer this service. If your information is ever compromised, you can hopefully freeze your accounts or lock your credit before further damage is done.
- Learn from your mistakes: If you notice your habits are hurting your credit score (like late or missed payments), remember you can always change and improve your credit score. Regularly checking your credit score is a great learning opportunity. Don’t be upset if you make a mistake – simply learn from it and move on.
What affects my credit score?
There are 5 main things that make up your credit report, and ultimately determine your credit score:
1. Payment history
2. Credit utilization
3. Length of credit history
4. Credit inquiries
5. Credit mix
However, it’s important to note that different credit bureau’s may use a slightly different calculation when determining your credit score. So if you’re monitoring your credit through more than one source, don’t be alarmed if you notice a slight discrepancy between the two credit scores.
Monitoring your credit can help you develop habits to improve your credit score over time. And, the benefit of a higher credit score? Easier access to credit, lower interest rates and it can even look good to potential employers who may request a credit check. Don’t let misconceptions stop you from being proactive about your credit score.
Interested in a loan? Try our free loan quote! In just a few minutes, we’ll tell you how much money you could qualify for and what your payments might be. No obligation and no impact to your credit score.