A new study shows nearly half of consumers have checked their credit score in the past year, a sign that access to scores is getting easier for consumers.
Forty-six percent of consumers checked their scores in the past year and 14% checked within the past three years, according to the Bankrate Money Pulse Survey conducted in mid-April.
Consumers between the ages of 30 and 49 are the most likely to check their credit reports, according to the survey. Twenty-seven percent of consumers in that age group check their credit report a couple of times per year and 26% check it about once per year.
But not all consumers are taking advantage of available access to credit scores. More than one-third of adult consumers (35%) said they have never reviewed their credit reports, according to the survey. Another 44% of senior citizens and 41% of Millennials have never checked any of their credit reports.
"Monitoring your credit goes well beyond scanning a three-digit number," said Jeanine Skowronski, credit card analyst at Bankrate.com. "Americans need to thoroughly review their credit reports for errors or signs of fraud. They also need to understand what factors, like missed payments or high debt to available credit ratios, are driving their credit score in order to improve it. A good credit score will help you, among other things, qualify for the best rates on loans."
Fair Isaac Corp. recently updated its credit scoring model to provide consumers with access to the 19 most commonly used versions of the FICO score from Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. That offering is designed to help consumers quickly understand their overall credit health. FICO also recently announced it will issue free credit scores to consumers who cannot pay for them through nonprofit credit counselors and some government offices.
Most of the consumers who do monitor their credit reports choose free services to get the information, according to the Bankrate survey. Forty-one percent of consumers said they accessed their most recent credit report for free through a bank or credit card statement. Fifteen percent reported they used a free online credit score service. Just 13% of consumers said they bought their score from one of the three major consumer reporting agencies and 6% accessed their score through paid credit monitoring or identity theft services.