At Sage Personal Finance, our amazing support representatives are out on the front lines every day, helping folks through the final steps of the bankruptcy process – and we get questions. One of the questions we hear most often is, “Now that I have a clean start, how can I work on improving my credit?”
While we aren’t professional finance experts, we do know that knowledge is power – and knowing the ins and outs of your credit profile is one of the simplest and most powerful ways to take charge of your financial life.
In our course, we let our students know that all consumers are entitled to at least one free credit report annually from the three major credit reporting bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) through the Federal Trade Commission’s government website, annualcreditreport.com – but there are several other sites that provide a means to stay on top of your credit profile the other 11 months of the year…and they are 100% free of charge.
Quizzle offers a wealth of financial monitoring tools (both free and paid subscription-based) available to curious consumers, including free credit scores and reports twice a year. Quizzle also offers paid subscription services that offer a variety of credit monitoring “add-ons” – but these additional services do cost extra. If you’re simply looking to keep an eye on your credit report a couple of times a year, stick with Quizzle Free.
Credit Karma digs a little deeper into a user’s credit history with its “free” plan. In addition to four free reports (with scores) annually, Credit Karma offers a unique “Credit Report Card” — a simple summary of your credit report details and ways to see how different financial decisions impact a consumer’s overall credit profile. It also offers a credit monitoring alert program that notifies users of important changes in his/her credit report as soon as those changes are reported to the credit bureaus. Consumers that enroll receive this very useful tool at no extra charge.
Credit Sesame offers a free credit score (and report) every month courtesy of credit reporting agency Experian. As with Credit Karma, Credit Sesame also provides users with real time credit monitoring to alert users to such things as “hard” and “soft” credit inquiries, payment history and credit ratios.
On their own, any of these free services can empower consumers, allowing anyone to better understand the world of credit, and what activities can raise or lower a user’s credit profile. Check them out and let us know if any (or all!) of these free services have helped you become a savvier consumer post-bankruptcy!