There are lots of finance apps available for iPhone these days. Some of them make tasks that used to be painfully irritating easier than ever — like monitoring your credit report and viewing your credit scores. Even better, if you have the right combination of finance apps, you can regularly monitor all three of your credit scores for free, right from your iPhone. Here’s how!
There are three main credit bureaus you need to worry about here in the States — Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. It is incredibly important to know all three of these scores since you never know what bureau a bank or business pulling your score may use. And since all three of these bureaus do their own calculations and reporting, there could be a serious error on one that doesn’t appear on the others.
Here are the two apps you need to monitor all three credit scores for free:
And here are a few things you should know about each app:
Free TransUnion and Equifax scores, automatic disputes
Once you input your information and verify your identity, Credit Karma will present you with your TransUnion and Equifax scores and reports, completely free. Even better, Credit Karma updates both of these scores pretty much every single week.
I’ve been using Credit Karma for several years now and they continuously improve their app and continue to add new features. For example, if you see something that looks incorrect on either of your reports, you can now directly dispute items right through the app. This is something that was painfully hard to do directly through any of the bureaus.
In my experience, the TransUnion dispute process is much simpler and direct than what Equifax offers, but Credit Karma definitely makes both processes much more accessible than anyone else does. I recently had to file a dispute with TransUnion and the item in question was removed from my report within 72 hours of reporting it as incorrect. That’s amazing, and it cost me nothing.
Credit Karma also lays out information from your credit report in an easy to read and understand format. All the offers you see inside Credit Karma are also tailored to fit your credit score. So if you’re shopping for credit cards, it’s a great way to minimize the risk of being denied for cards based on your eligibility.
Free Experian score, somewhat decent advice on credit
The Credit.com app isn’t nearly as robust or intuitive as the Credit Karma app, but it does give you your Experian credit score completely free. While Credit Karma is updated on a weekly basis, Credit.com only refreshes your score about once a month. For anyone wanting to stay on top of their credit, this is probably a recent enough credit score for most buying decisions.
However, if you want your actual report, you’ll still have to get that directly from Experian, or through another app or service. The Credit.com app does however offer advice on what kind of score you can attain both short and long term. Alongside that it gives you some advice about the things you should do to move in that direction. You can also see how much of an impact each aspect of your credit impacts you, for example, credit inquiries only make up 10% of your score, but making payments on time makes up 35% of your score.
Even though the Credit.com app couldbe better, it’s a free way to keep a close (enough) eye on your Experian score so you’re alerted within a reasonable about of time to an error, before it affects you negatively.
Other free ways to monitor your credit score and report
The above apps aren’t the only ways to get ahold of your credit score for free. Tons of different credit card companies offer your credit score as part of their benefits, so it’s worth checking your benefits to see if any card you already carry offers credit monitoring perks.
For example, I have a Barclay card that offers my FICO credit score free. For those wondering, your FICO score is a fourth kind of calculation. There is also now a fifth kind of scoring system called a VantageScore.
Confused yet? Yeah, so are most American consumers.
That’s why it’s important to check all your credit card benefits and see what scores your existing cards already offer you. Between Credit Karma, Credit.com, and all the credit cards I carry in my wallet, I have access to every single credit score completely free through a handful of different apps.
If you have solid credit card agreements, odds are you do too. You just have to check.
Monitoring your credit and your finances
Fraudulent activity or incorrect information can be a headache to deal with, and in some circumstances can take a long time to clear up if you don’t catch it fast enough. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on your finances as a whole.
There are several different apps to do this. I use Prosper Daily for this, formerly known as BillGuard. The one thing I catch more than any other is duplicate charges. It’s really easy for those to slip through the cracks, especially if they’re small ones. Prosper Daily has helped me catch a handful over the years, and even fraudulent activity before it even actually cleared.
Prosper Daily also offers your TransUnion credit score for free as well as detailed breakdowns of spending patterns. And if you’d like, you can opt for full identity protection for $9.99 each month. Otherwise, all other features of Prosper Daily are completely free to use.