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You should check your credit score three to four times a year. It’s best if it’s spread out in three to four month intervals.

Your credit score, if it’s good enough, guarantees entry into some of the most elusive low-interest credit card offers, mortgages and auto loans. So it’s surprising that a recent survey from Visa revealed that about 42% of consumers don’t check their credit card score.

One reason that consumers shy away from checking their credit score is usually because that number comes at a price. Credit scores aren’t always free, and may cost close to $20. charges $19.95 for a credit score. Be wary of those websites that boost free credit scores, as they are more than likely misleading. Many of those websites, require the consumer to sign up for a monthly credit score monitoring service in order to get your credit score. These fees are close to $5 a month. Other companies that offer you a free credit score without a fee are usually offering approximations based on your answers to questions— these scores cannot be used when approaching actual lenders. The law allows each consumer a free credit report from each of the major credit reporting agencies— TransUnion, Experian and Equifax each year.

Another reason that consumers may not jump to check their credit score, is because many consumers believe that checking it to many times can be detrimental to their credit score.  If you check your credit score once every three months, your credit score should not decrease. It’s important to keep an eye on your credit score and report, so you don’t become the victim of identity theft, fraud or unauthorized purchases on your credit card.  Spacing out the credit report checks to once every three or four months eliminates the harm to your credit score.

Your credit score is based on calculations derived from a consumer’s history of on-time payments, how much credit is available versus how much is being used, the length of credit history, length of open accounts, new credit applications, recent requests and the different types of credit used, such as credit card loans, small business loans, car loans, etc.

It’s best to check your credit score before you apply for any loan, just in case you get denied, you will know whether or not it was because of your credit score.