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Expert Answers

Why is my credit standing important?

By: Odysseas Papadimitriou, CardHub CEO

Your credit standing is important because decision makers (from creditors and lenders to landlords and employers) utilize it to not only determine whether you are eligible for approval, but also to set your interest rates, insurance premiums, credit lines, etc. If you are wondering how your actual credit score fits into all of this, your credit score is essentially a numerical manifestation of your credit standing, designed to quickly indicate your financial risk (or lack thereof). Your credit score is generated by proprietary statistical models and is based on information within your major credit reports. Having the highest possible score is crucial, given just how many facets of life your credit standing impacts.

A practical example of this is the fact that a 100-point difference in your score can cost you $40,000 in interest over the life of a 30-year $300,000 home loan, according to a Fair Isaac Corporation report. So if a free credit-score simulator or your actual credit score indicates a need for increased credit-building efforts, make sure to take heed. It is important to note, however, that given the close relationship between your credit reports and score, mistakes on your credit reports can misleadingly impact your score. That means reviewing your credit report is at least as important as checking or estimating your credit score.

What is a Credit Check?

By: Odysseas Papadimitriou, CardHub CEO

The term “credit check” is used rather loosely, but it generally means one of the three following things: 1) to check the veracity of your credit files; 2) to check your credit standing based on anonymous questions (think the credit score estimator on this page); and 3) to check your credit score; and. Each type of credit check serves a distinct, yet important purpose, and at the end of the day, consumers should utilize all three to their full advantage.

Verifying the accuracy of your credit reports should be an ongoing practice, as it allows you to correct any errors on your major credit reports and ensure that you don’t fall victim to identify theft. The best way to do so is to perform a free credit check online by visiting and requesting the free copy of each of your three main credit files to which you are legally entitled every 12 months. You can also check daily updates to your TransUnion credit report on WalletHub.

Performing a casual credit check by using a credit estimator like the one on this page is a great way to get a general sense of where you stand, particularly if you have a small-scale financial decision – such as applying for a credit card or store card – in your near future.

If you want to see your actual credit score, you can check it for free on WalletHub – the only site that offers free daily updates.

How accurate is this Free Credit Check?

By: John Kiernan, Personal Finance Editor

It is important to remember that this free credit check is just an estimate. It is an estimate that is not based on your credit reports, but rather on the answers that you provide to the above questions. These questions are designed to indicate the credit score range into which you are likely to fit, given the types of credit cards you have been approved for in the past, your payment history, and any negative public records that may be attached to your name. It is therefore very important that you answer the questions posed to you by this credit score estimator truthfully and with care. And remember, take this tool for what it is – a basic credit score estimate calculator – not something on which to base major financial decisions.

Why use this Credit Score Estimator?

By: John Kiernan, Personal Finance Editor

This credit score estimator is important because it gives you a general sense of your credit standing and does so for free and without any personal information. With an estimate credit score in mind, you will be able to more accurately focus your credit card search and thereby hopefully avoid the hassle of applying for the wrong card and not getting approved. In addition, this type of credit simulator is useful in that it gives you a good baseline idea of where your credit should be based on your general consumer profile. If your actual credit score differs significantly from what this free online credit check indicates it should be, that could be an indication of something being amiss.

How do I determine my exact credit score?

By: John Kiernan, Personal Finance Editor

You can check your credit score for free on WalletHub – the only site that offers free credit scores and credit reports that are updated on a daily basis. Although we believe that WalletHub is the best option for a variety of reasons, it’s not the only credit-score provider in town. This article will give you a sense of how some of the most notable alternatives stack up against WalletHub.

Finally, it’s important to note what you should and should not prioritize when checking your credit score. You should seek out a reputable free option that provides maximum access to your credit information and thus maximum insight. You should not care about credit-score branding. There’s no single “real” credit score, after all, and you’ll never know what type of model a given lender will use to evaluate you.

What factors comprise my credit score?

By: Debra Wei, Personal Finance Reporter

The specifics differ from credit score to credit score, but all scores are based on the information in our three major credit reports – those from TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. So as long as you make sure positive information is flowing into these reports and you review them for accuracy on a regular basis, your credit score will be in good shape regardless of the exact recipe used.

With that being said, you can find the general components of the most common types of credit scores – those issued by Vantage Score and the Fair Isaac Corporation – below. Although the categorization differs slightly, the weighting of each major factor is largely the same.

Vantage Scores
  • Payment History – 40%
  • Depth of Credit – 21%
  • Utilization – 20%
  • Balances – 11%
  • Recent Credit – 5%
  • Available Credit – 3%

Fair Isaac Scores
  • Payment History - 35%
  • Amounts Owed - 30%
  • Length of Credit History - 15%
  • New Credit - 10%
  • Types of Credit Used - 10%

For more specifics, check out out the credit score section of our Education Center.