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Contributor
kmacqua
Posts: 139
Registered: ‎04-15-2014
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Credit monitoring strategy

Hi folks, I'm a newbie here and looking for advice on what credit monitoring strategy would be right for me.

 

My goals are to continue to improve my FICO and to apply for a mortgage in 1-2 years.  I've managed to pay off a lot of debt after an adverse life event in 2009 and feel like I've "rounded the credit corner".  But given my future goals for a mortgage, I need to more actively monitor my credit reports and manage my scores.  I want to:

  1. Check where my current scores are.
  2. Review my reports for any inaccuracies to clear up & opportunities to GW remove any accurate negatives.
  3. See how my scores improve by various actions I take, like reducing remaining CC debt and utilization %, CLI, etc.

I got a little overwhelmed looking at my credit monitoring options.

 

I'm registering for Target's offer of the free year of credit monitoring through Experian.  But that will give me one Experian credit report (one poster said there was a way to get updated reports throughout the year, but others haven't been able to see that option available, so I think it'll just be the one report), and no score.  The "monitoring" is useful for alerting to possible identity theft type activity, but not so much for monitoring the actual credit report or FICO.

 

I plan to get my free credit reports from the big 3, but was thinking of staggering them--maybe quarterly? and starting with TU or Equifax since I'll get my Experian report through Target's offer.

 

Then what?  I'll need my actual FICO scores, of course.  From where?  But do I need all 3 at once?  Or will 1 do for now and check the others later? And the real FICOs; I'm not interested in anyone else's metric.

 

I'll need to be able to review my actual report multiple times.  But how frequently? Monthly? Quarterly?  And, again, should I rotate through the 3 reports or be tracking all of them simultaneously?  I know if I get my free credit report through annualcreditreport.com and see an inaccuracy that they are required to provide me with another report after the issue is resolved (or confirmed), but that's only for disputable items, not for GW changes, etc.  Which brings me to credit monitoring services...

 

What service should I use for pulling my credit report and/or scores?  I was too confused by the number of products myFico offered to determine which one/s are what I need.  Are there other options I should consider?

 

Any advice would be most welcome.

Contributor
kmacqua
Posts: 139
Registered: ‎04-15-2014
0

Re: Credit monitoring strategy

Hi all,

I found a really helpful primer on Credit Monitoring Services in the General Credit topics forum. So I don't need that part of my questions answered.  But I'll let stand my questions about strategy, e.g. how frequently I should pull my credit report & FICO, whether I should stagger the three or look at them at the same time, etc. I don't think I need daily alerting/monitoring of tradeline actvity.  Just some guidance on how much to check in on things.  

 

Thanks for any advice!

Frequent Contributor
lavencedora
Posts: 305
Registered: ‎11-04-2013
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Re: Credit monitoring strategy

Well, I can't really give you advice on what you should do, but I can tell you what I decided to do.

 

 

1) Annual Free Credit Reports --I collected all three free credit reports at once the first time because I wanted to work on GWs & other removals, so I felt the need to know what was reporting to each. In the future, however, I will stagger them in the future for updates.

2) I signed up for CreditKarma in order to keep track (as often as weekly) as to how my score is generally trending by virtue of actions I'm taking, such as lowering credit utilization (etc.). They pull info from TransUnion, so their reporting of, say, collections or utilization matches what TU is reporting. Their scoring system is not an accurate FIKO, but it gives a good sense of how your FIKO is trending, it's free, and they update as often as weekly.  This is how I first found out that my Asset Acceptance collection had been removed this week (which I confirmed by pulling the report)!!!!

3) I signed up (paid for) a quarterly TU report with FICO here at MyFico for about $50-ish. I decided it was worth it to me because of all my efforts to clean up my report, I needed a periodic check on what the actual report & score looked like. I probably will not renew this the following year, since the most drastic changes are happening this year. For maintaining or keeping up in future years, I believe the staggered free reports will be sufficient, along with CreditKarma.

 

Obviously, take advantage of any report due to you by law for credit denial or what-have-you. One final note: I am monitoring TU most closely, & don't see the other reports as often. But, since I know what they were reporting at the begining of the year ... I know when I make some progress on a deletion, GW or whatever, that I can always call the other two & ask if the TL has been removed, and send them documentation. So basically, I can check in on those others in order to make sure reporting is accurate.

 

You have to keep a balance & we can't be wasting too much of our $$ on just seeing where we're at. Then again, if you are in the process of making major changes, it's important to have some way to track where you are at. Good luck finding what works best for you!


Starting Score: TU 490 on 11/2012
Current Score: From 5/2014:TU 651 (lender pull), EQ 686 (myFICO), from 6/15/2014 EX 690 (myFICO)
Goal Score: 700+


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Contributor
Rkalynsmith
Posts: 134
Registered: ‎10-14-2013
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Re: Credit monitoring strategy

Here's my setup

1) Free EQ FICO score from DCU every month plus i have FICO score watch

2) I can view my EX CR for FREE everyday from there website. experian.com/view........you must have a report number. Get it from the credit report you can order once per year.

3) I use credit karma for my TU report. My capital One card just gave me some type of free membership they just started which is powered by TU


Starting Score: 565
Current Score: 672
Goal Score: 700


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Contributor
kmacqua
Posts: 139
Registered: ‎04-15-2014
0

Re: Credit monitoring strategy

That's interesting about the free EX report. I just checked mine, and could find no report number on it. Perhaps that is because I pulled it via Target's free credit/ID monitoring offer rather than through annualcreditreport.com. I was going to use the Target Experian report as my "starter" report, take care of any GW or PFD items I need to, then request the annualcreditreport.com one down the line to see their removal. But maybe if I can check it for free regularly, I should just go ahead and pull the annualcreditreport.com one now.

 

I should mention that I am now getting my TU FICO through a Barclay card account. Will tracking one FICO on an ongoing basis be sufficient?

 

Thanks for the suggestions (or personal examples)!

Community Leader
Valued Contributor
DaveSignal
Posts: 2,111
Registered: ‎07-29-2011
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Re: Credit monitoring strategy

I use my privacy matters / eliminate ID theft, which costs about $12 a month and allows daily pulls of all 3 reports.  This service requires about a week of account setup before usable and also necessitates learning how to use the service and manually recording the time the reports were pulled each day, because if you re-pull less than 24-hours later, the reports come up with invalid data and you waste that pull.

 

I get my EX FICO monthly from PSECU.  I don't live in PA, but was able to find a way in to this CU since I have lived in PA once before.  

I get my TU FICO from Barclays.  Discover and Wal-Mart also offer regular free TU FICO scores.

I get my EQ FICO from myFICO Score Watch, which is the best FICO monitoring service offered anywhere.

 

EX:694 TU:744 EQ:777
Amex ED $19.5k - BoA Travel Rewards $15k - CSP $5k - SDFCU EMV $15k - NFCU goRewards $20k - Barclays Arrival $6.5k
Valued Contributor
ezdriver
Posts: 1,783
Registered: ‎08-24-2013
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Re: Credit monitoring strategy

My opinion is that reviewing one's credit reports [all three] once per quarter is more than sufficient. As long as one is using credit responsibly, and following some of the payment timing and utilizations tips posted in this forum, one does not need any other paid service to keep a proactive eye on one's credit. Too many of the "monitoring" services focus on score and activity but no context or comprehensive or useable information ... again in my opinion.



Starting Score: 618
Scores on 10/9/13: EFX 652, XPN 669, TUC 662
Scores on 3/17/14: EFX 649, XPN 677, TUC 681
Goal Score: 720 ALL


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Community Leader
Valued Contributor
DaveSignal
Posts: 2,111
Registered: ‎07-29-2011
0

Re: Credit monitoring strategy


ezdriver wrote:

My opinion is that reviewing one's credit reports [all three] once per quarter is more than sufficient. As long as one is using credit responsibly, and following some of the payment timing and utilizations tips posted in this forum, one does not need any other paid service to keep a proactive eye on one's credit. Too many of the "monitoring" services focus on score and activity but no context or comprehensive or useable information ... again in my opinion.


And once per quearter for 3 credit reports works for many people who are just looking for a general progress tracking.  I find it useful to be able to pull more frequently, but that is because I am meticulous about planning my applications for new credit and have lots of different accounts reporting all of the time.  For example:

 

I want to apply for 3 new cards by end of April or early May.  It could take a few weeks for these cards to get to me, and I want to make sure that I have them before I leave for vacation at the beginning of June so that I have no problem meeting minimum spend for signup bonuses.

 

My util is currently reporting at about 13%, and I know, from previous experience, that my FICO score will go up about 5 to 10 points just by dropping util below 10%.  Once my last two revolving accounts finish reporting, I will be where I want for my applications.  The lenders I am applying might pull from any CRA, possibly more than one.  So I am not going to apply until the day that I see all three CRAs have the new utilization data which will result in an optimal score.  If I was only pulling once every 3 months, I wouldn't be able to perfectly time it like this.

EX:694 TU:744 EQ:777
Amex ED $19.5k - BoA Travel Rewards $15k - CSP $5k - SDFCU EMV $15k - NFCU goRewards $20k - Barclays Arrival $6.5k
Contributor
kmacqua
Posts: 139
Registered: ‎04-15-2014
0

Re: Credit monitoring strategy


ezdriver wrote:

My opinion is that reviewing one's credit reports [all three] once per quarter is more than sufficient. As long as one is using credit responsibly, and following some of the payment timing and utilizations tips posted in this forum, one does not need any other paid service to keep a proactive eye on one's credit. Too many of the "monitoring" services focus on score and activity but no context or comprehensive or useable information ... again in my opinion.


This makes sense, and probably where I will end up. I'll have to look to see what CMS offers something along that frequency, or whether it'll be more cost-effective to pay for one-off reports 3x/year (plus the free annualcreditreport.com pull).

 

For the short term, I think I'll need something a bit more frequent, because I'm trying to clean up a few negative things on my report and see how I pay down which credit cards in which combination affects my util % and credit score. Daily and even weekly would be overkill, I think.  But monthly or 2x/month may be about right for the next 6 months or so.

 

I get my TU Fico through my Barclay card.  Can I assume that, by tracking that FICO, the other 2 FICOs will be pretty close?  Again, I'm not applying for anything right now, so I don't need to know what the precise # is of all 3 (I'll do that when we start looking for a home/mortgage pre-approval).  I just need to know that the actions I'm taking toward a cleaner credit report are reflected in a better score.  So 1 FICO ok, or not sufficient?

 

Thanks everyone!


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