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Does Checking Your Credit Score Lower Your Rating?

Ready for some good news? If you want to check your credit score, you can do so without worrying about lowering it.

So why is it so common to think that will happen?

It’s easy to see where the confusion stems from, so let’s look at what a credit score is, why checking a credit score isn’t a bad thing, and where credit damage can actually come from.

Credit Scores: A Refresher

First things first: A credit score is a number based on a credit report that helps creditors determine how risky it would be to lend money to a borrower.

The risk level influences if an applicant is given credit, and if so, the terms and interest rate. Having a high credit score can make it much easier to take out a loan and get more favorable interest rates, or be approved to rent an apartment.

The information in a credit report determines a credit score. The following factors influence a credit score:

•   Payment history

•   Outstanding balances

•   Length of credit history

•   Applications for new credit accounts

•   Types of credit accounts (such as mortgages or credit cards)

Consumers don’t actually have just one credit score; they have multiple ones. Scores are calculated by credit reporting agencies that maintain credit reports. Lenders can use their own internal credit scoring systems as well.

Recommended: What Is Considered a Bad Credit Score?

Check your score with SoFi

Track your credit score for free. Sign up and get $10.*


Does Checking Your Credit Score Lower It?

Nope. There are many misconceptions surrounding credit scores, and one of the biggest ones is that checking one’s credit score will lower it. This is simply, and happily, not true.

Checking your credit score once, or even multiple times, will not damage it. Requesting a copy of a credit report will also not damage a credit score.

In fact, it’s good to keep a close eye on your credit report and score. It can be especially helpful to review a credit report on occasion to make sure there are no errors that may cause the score to drop.

Online tools like a spending tracker app can allow you to track your credit score regularly and get important insights into your spending habits.

Recommended: What Is The Difference Between Transunion and Equifax?

What Can Lower a Credit Score?

Certain credit inquiries made by outside parties like lenders and credit card issuers affect a credit score.

You’ve probably heard of soft and hard “pulls,” or, formally, soft and hard inquiries. Only hard inquiries — a full check of credit history — affect a credit score.

Examples of Soft Inquiries

•   You check your own credit report.

•   An insurer pulls credit for a quote.

•   A company views a credit report during a background check.

•   You seek to be prequalified for a personal loan or mortgage.

•   A credit card or insurance issuer sends a prescreened offer — sometimes called a “preapproved” offer.

Examples of Hard Inquiries

You apply for a:

•   Mortgage

•   Auto loan

•   Credit card

•   Student loan

•   Personal loan

•   Rental

Hard inquiries may stay on a credit report for two years, although they usually only affect credit scores for one year.

Multiple hard inquiries in a short time frame could make a customer look higher risk because it could suggest an intention to rack up debt. Then again, if you’re shopping for an auto loan or mortgage, multiple inquiries are generally counted as one for a period of time, typically 14 to 45 days. The exception generally does not apply to credit card inquiries.

Consumers can see these inquiries on their credit report.

When to Check a Credit Report

Consumers should consider checking their credit report at least once a year to make sure there are no errors that are hurting their credit score and that their report is fully up to date. Regular checks can also alert consumers to fraud and identity theft.

It can also be smart to check a credit report before making a big purchase that requires a loan.

Doing so can even be helpful when job searching, as some employers review credit histories when hiring.

Are Free Credit Reports Safe?

Consumers are entitled to a free (and completely safe!) credit report once a year from the three major credit reporting bureaus:

•   Equifax

•   Experian

•   TransUnion

There are a few ways to gain access to these free reports.

•   Online at AnnualCreditReport.com.

•   By phone at (877) 322-8228.

•   By mail. After downloading and completing the Annual Credit Report request form, consumers can mail the completed form to:

Annual Credit Report Request Service

P.O. Box 105281

Atlanta, GA 30348-5283

Note: These free annual credit reports do not include credit scores. They are meant to allow an individual to ensure accuracy and check for identity theft.

To monitor credit throughout the year, it can be a good idea to space out the requests for these free reports, but requesting them all at once is totally fine.

After you’ve received your free credit report for the year from a specific reporting company, you can request another report down the road, but you’ll have to pay for that one.

Additional free reports are available to those who experienced an “adverse action” because of their credit report, are unemployed, and certain other situations.

Recommended: Why Do I Have Different Credit Scores?

The Takeaway

Does checking your credit score lower it? Not at all, and in fact, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your credit landscape. Your own inquiries are different from outside hard pulls, which can happen when you apply for a mortgage, credit card, student loan, auto loan, or something that requires a full check of credit history. A hard inquiry could stay on a credit report for two years, though it typically only affects a credit score for a year.

Checking your credit report at least once a year is a good way to ensure there are no errors that could damage your score. It’s also a good idea to keep tabs on your finances year-round, and a money tracker app can help you manage your spending and saving. The SoFi app connects all of your accounts in one convenient dashboard. From there, you can see all of your balances, spending breakdowns, and credit score monitoring, plus you can get other valuable financial insights.

Stay up to date on your finances by seeing exactly how your money comes and goes.


*Terms and conditions apply. This offer is only available to new SoFi users without existing SoFi accounts. It is non-transferable. One offer per person. To receive the rewards points offer, you must successfully complete setting up Credit Score Monitoring. Rewards points may only be redeemed towards active SoFi accounts, such as your SoFi Checking or Savings account, subject to program terms that may be found here: SoFi Member Rewards Terms and Conditions. SoFi reserves the right to modify or discontinue this offer at any time without notice.

SoFi Relay offers users the ability to connect both SoFi accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc.’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. Based on your consent SoFi will also automatically provide some financial data received from the credit bureau for your visibility, without the need of you connecting additional accounts. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score is a VantageScore® based on TransUnion® (the “Processing Agent”) data.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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What Factors Affect Your Credit Score?

What Factors Affect Your Credit Score?

Your credit score is one of the most influential measures that determine whether you’ll be approved for loans and credit cards. A number of factors go into calculating a credit score, including your history of on-time payments and how much debt you owe as well as what types of credit you have and how long your credit history is.

Knowing what affects your credit score is the first step to ensuring your score stays high so you can qualify for financing opportunities when they arise. We’ll address all your questions about what affects your credit score, as well as how to keep track of it.

Recommended: What Credit Score Is Needed to Buy a Car?

Why a Good Credit Score Is Important

In a nutshell, having a good credit score provides opportunities for you financially and can help you spend less overall on financing. If you want to buy a car, a good credit score can help you secure an auto loan at a low rate. Similarly, having good credit is key to opening a credit card.

Having a bad credit score — generally anything under 500 on the scale of poor to exceptional credit — can limit your financial opportunities. If you have bad credit, you may not qualify for loans that you apply for, or if you do, you may have higher interest rates. You also may not get approved for a credit card, unless it’s a secured card, which requires a deposit and has a low credit limit. A bad credit score could even hamper your job search, particularly if the job involves handling money.

The bottom line is that having bad credit hinders your ability to grow financially, so it’s important to do what you can to maintain a good credit score.

Recommended: 8 Reasons Why Good Credit Is So Important

Check your score with SoFi

Track your credit score for free. Sign up and get $10.*


Recommended: What Is The Difference Between Transunion and Equifax?

5 Factors That Influence Your Credit Score

The first step toward building your credit score is understanding what factors help to determine it. In general, these are the five credit score factors that shape your score:

Factor #1: Credit Utilization

When it comes to what affects your credit score, one of the most important factors is how much credit you have available versus how much debt you currently have. It’s called your credit utilization, and you can calculate this number by dividing your outstanding debts by your total credit available.

Let’s say you have three credit cards with a total credit limit of $30,000. You owe $3,000 in total. So your credit utilization would be:

3,000 / 30,000 = 0.10

Your credit utilization of 10% (you’re using 10% of your total available credit) is great, as lenders generally want to see a utilization rate below 30% to approve a loan application.

Factor #2: Payment History

You might not feel like an occasional late payment on a credit card is a big deal, but it can impact your credit score negatively. In fact, payment history accounts for 35% of your FICO score (the scoring system for the credit bureau Experian).

The easiest way to raise your credit score? Pay your bills on time. Many loans and credit cards will allow you to set up autopay, which is a foolproof way to make sure you never miss a payment.

Factor #3: Credit History Length

You’re not born with a credit history; it has to be built over time. Many college students start the journey by opening their first credit card account. This is a great place to start, though remember that good habits like paying on time and keeping your credit utilization rate down will help build good credit.

And lest you think if you want a new credit card you need to close an old one, you don’t. The longer you have relationships with credit companies, the better your credit.

Factor #4: Types of Credit

While this factor isn’t nearly as important as the others, the types of credit you have can impact your credit score. Having a nice mix of credit — such as credit cards, a home mortgage, and an auto loan — can contribute positively to your credit scores, though it isn’t required.

Recommended: Should I Sell My House Now or Wait?

Factor #5: Recent Applications

Whenever you apply for credit, whether that’s a car loan or a credit card, there is what’s called a “hard inquiry” on your credit report. If you make several applications within a few days or weeks of one another, it may be seen as derogatory on your report, and your credit score might dip a bit.

Consider your credit needs carefully and try to look for lenders that let you see if you prequalify, since that is considered a “soft inquiry” and won’t impact your credit the same way.

Remember, There Are 3 Main Credit Scores to Consider

While the factors above are what generally affect your credit score, you actually have three different credit scores, each of which may be calculated slightly differently. These three credit scores come from the following three personal credit bureaus that track your financial activity:

•   TransUnion

•   Experian

•   Equifax

Each bureau has its own credit scoring system that it uses to determine your score. Some loans and credit card companies report to one or two bureaus — or even all three — so it’s important to know that your activity may show up slightly differently depending on the reporting agency.

How to Track Your Credit Score

Now that you understand what affects your credit score, it’s your responsibility to stay on top of your score so you know when it changes. Each credit scoring bureau updates scores on a different schedule, but you can expect updates roughly every 30 to 45 days.

There are several places you can check your credit score. Some banks and credit card issuers offer the service free to customers. Additionally, you are entitled to one free credit report a year from
AnnualCreditReport.com
, which provides your credit reports and scores from each of the three credit bureaus.

Tracking your score is important even if you don’t plan to take out a loan or open a credit card any time soon. Make sure to regularly review your report to ensure there are no discrepancies, such as a late payment you know you didn’t make, or an open account you closed. If you see anything that is incorrect, contact the credit bureau immediately to get it resolved.

Recommended: Does Net Worth Include Home Equity?

The Takeaway

Once you understand what affects your credit score, you have the power to improve your score by taking steps such as reducing your credit utilization and paying your bills on time. As you build your credit, you will qualify for better loan offers and interest rates on credit cards, which can empower you to purchase what you need without high expense.

Take control of your finances with the SoFi money tracker app, which allows you to track your spending, set goals, and monitor your credit, all in one place.

See how SoFi can help you easily keep track of your credit score and what affects it.


Photo credit: iStock/oatawa

*Terms and conditions apply. This offer is only available to new SoFi users without existing SoFi accounts. It is non-transferable. One offer per person. To receive the rewards points offer, you must successfully complete setting up Credit Score Monitoring. Rewards points may only be redeemed towards active SoFi accounts, such as your SoFi Checking or Savings account, subject to program terms that may be found here: SoFi Member Rewards Terms and Conditions. SoFi reserves the right to modify or discontinue this offer at any time without notice.

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

SoFi Relay offers users the ability to connect both SoFi accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc.’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. Based on your consent SoFi will also automatically provide some financial data received from the credit bureau for your visibility, without the need of you connecting additional accounts. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score is a VantageScore® based on TransUnion® (the “Processing Agent”) data.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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What Hurts a Home Appraisal?

What Hurts a Home Appraisal?

The main factors that can hurt a home appraisal include needed updates, comparable properties, market conditions, your home’s location, and whether you hired an inspector to flag issues or necessary repairs. By getting ahead of the factors within your control before an appraisal, you may get a more favorable answer to the all-important question of what your house is really worth.

The more you know and understand about the home appraisal process, the better. Here’s a crash course of sorts on the process and what negatively affects home appraisal.

Recommended: Should I Sell My House Now or Wait?

A Primer on Home Appraisals

A home appraisal reveals the fair market value of a home, which is important whether you’re buying, selling or refinancing a mortgage. An appraisal can also be used to determine property taxes. Lenders require appraisals because they ensure that the lender won’t offer you a loan that’s more than what the home is appraised value is worth.

So, what do appraisers look for when they do a home appraisal? A real estate appraiser, who is a third party licensed or certified by the state, will review a home inside and out, looking at a home’s age, size, foundation, appliances and neighborhood, among other things. They will then compare the house to similar homes in the area to assess its value.

An appraisal is usually required by a lender when a buyer is getting a mortgage or when someone is refinancing their mortgage. If an appraisal is for a home sale, neither the buyer nor the homeowner can be present. When someone is refinancing, on the other hand, the homeowner is permitted to attend. That no doubt is a plus as it’s an opportunity for the homeowner to ensure the appraiser takes note of any upgrades and new features that could increase their home’s worth.

Check your score with SoFi

Track your credit score for free. Sign up and get $10 in reward points.*


Things That Can Hurt Your Home Appraisal

Much hinges on the home’s appraisal itself, so you’ll want it to go as smoothly as possible. Start by knowing what hurts a home appraisal so you can avoid any hiccups that could prevent you from getting the highest value for your home.

1. Much-Needed Updates That Never Happened

If you’ve been putting off any needed upgrades, this is when it could come back to bite you. Let’s say you’ve been meaning to renovate your kitchen and somehow just didn’t get around to it. A kitchen that looks pretty much like it did 30 years ago isn’t going to wow anybody, least of all an appraiser who will wonder what else is in decline.

While it can be helpful to take care of some common home upgrades that can net you a return on your investment, you don’t necessarily want to go crazy updating either. Not only could it be tougher to recoup all the money you put into home improvements, you may find that while you love the changes you’ve made, your taste may not have universal appeal. It’s a delicate balance to make upgrades that will get two thumbs up from the appraiser and the potential buyers.

2. Comparable Properties

When it comes to housing, you do kind of have to keep up with the Joneses. With appraisals, it’s all about sales of comparable homes over the last 12 months. What are homes similar to yours on your street or a few blocks over selling for? If they are getting top dollar that will push up the price of your home. On the flip side, if those homes are hanging around on the market for months and selling at prices below expected, that could put a drag on what you can get for yours.

Comparable sales help determine the market, which is why both your real estate and your appraiser will look at them. Ideally, the appraiser, as much as possible, is comparing apples to apples so you get a fair appraisal. The other properties should be similar in size, age and amenities, among other factors. It’s a losing proposition for you if the appraiser goes for the extreme, say a house that sold at a bargain because someone was in a hurry to bail for whatever reason.

3. Skipping a Home Inspection

When it comes to your house, ignorance is not bliss. While you may know when you need to make a repair to a leaky roof, for instance, there can be plenty wrong that’s not obvious to you. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a home inspection before you put your house on the market.

A home inspector can suss out all manner of malfunctions that could be plaguing your house, particularly things you may be clueless about. If you get bad news, think of it as good news since you’ll now have the opportunity to make necessary home repairs before you put your house on the market and an appraiser comes with a magnifying glass of sorts looking for signs of trouble.

4. An Undesirable Location

Few things matter more in real estate market than location. If you’re in a neighborhood that’s seen as flawed or your house is on a busy or noisy street, that could all come into play when it comes to the value of your property.

Location also counts within your home. If your layout is dated — say it’s old-fashioned and highly compartmentalized instead of today’s more in-demand open layout concepts — that could be less attractive to buyers. Or, they might only be interested in knocking down walls and reconfiguring the space, which likely means they’ll want to pay less for the house if they are going to have put money into it to bring it in line with what they’re looking for.

4 Ways to Prevent Low Home Appraisals

Just like there are some things you can get out ahead of before they hurt your home appraisal, there are also some moves you can make to prevent your home appraisal coming in lower than you’d like.

1.   Hire your own appraiser: Typically, the lender hires the appraiser. However, there’s no reason you can’t hire your own appraiser before the sale. Your realtor should have a handle on someone who is experienced and has a reputation for giving fair estimates. You then can ask the buyer or lender’s appraiser to review what your appraiser produced.

2.   Provide records: If you have records of repairs and upgrades that’s the kind of proof that works in your favor. It also doesn’t hurt to have documentation like photos — before and afters aren’t just for an Instagram post of your new haircut.

3.   Prepare for the appraiser’s visit: Don’t dismiss the importance of maintaining curb appeal. Your home should be clean inside and outside before the appraiser comes over. Strive to get as close to an interior design catalog as you can.

4.   Dig up property comparables on your own: You don’t have to leave it to the appraiser and real estate agents to do all the homework. Go the extra mile and consider calling real estate agents with homes in escrow to get the sales prices. Create a list that you can pass along to the appraiser.

Checking Your Home Value Without an Appraisal

You can get a sense of what your home is worth even if you don’t get an appraisal. There are several websites that can give you valuable insight into your home’s potential value, including Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, Realtor.com and Eppraisal, among others.

Another option is to use a house price index (HPI) calculator , which relies on data from mortgage transactions over time to estimate a home’s value. Projections are based on both the purchase price of the home and the changing value of other homes nearby. This tool can help you see how much a house has appreciated over time. You’ll also get a glimpse of estimated future changes in mortgage rates.

Recommended: Does Net Worth Include Home Equity?

The Takeaway

Because appraisal value of your home is likely your biggest asset, it’s worth putting the time and effort into the appraisal process. The payoff could be huge if you tend to the major factors that hurt an appraisal or get proactive about preventing a low appraisal.

If you’re worried about budgeting for any necessary updates or repairs, a tool like SoFi can help you track your spending in different categories.

Stay on top of your budget as you get your house appraisal ready.

Photo credit: iStock/ucpage


External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SoFi Relay offers users the ability to connect both SoFi accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc.’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. Based on your consent SoFi will also automatically provide some financial data received from the credit bureau for your visibility, without the need of you connecting additional accounts. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score is a VantageScore® based on TransUnion® (the “Processing Agent”) data.

*Terms and conditions apply. This offer is only available to new SoFi users without existing SoFi accounts. It is non-transferable. One offer per person. To receive the rewards points offer, you must successfully complete setting up Credit Score Monitoring. Rewards points may only be redeemed towards active SoFi accounts, such as your SoFi Checking or Savings account, subject to program terms that may be found here: SoFi Member Rewards Terms and Conditions. SoFi reserves the right to modify or discontinue this offer at any time without notice.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

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woman on laptop with credit card

How Often Does Your Credit Score Update?

Most businesses report information to the credit bureaus every 30 to 45 days. Each on-time payment you make may barely affect your score, while a missed payment can have a significant effect.

But how often does your credit score update? Let’s find that answer, and learn how to keep an eye on your credit history and credit score.

Recommended: How to Build Credit Over Time

When Do Credit Reports Update?

Whenever consumers take some sort of action relating to their credit, their score, usually a number between 300 and 850, will fluctuate.

For instance, if they apply for a loan or miss a credit card payment, their score could change.

There is no set date for a credit score update because a lender or creditor may send information to the three main credit bureaus at different times: Experian one day, Equifax five days after that, and TransUnion a week later.

An update, though, will occur at least every 45 days.

Rather than constantly checking for updates, you might want to focus on long-term goals like paying off debt, always sending payments on time, and ensuring that your scores are going in an upward direction.

Recommended: Which Credit Bureau Is Used Most?

Check your score with SoFi

Track your credit score for free. Sign up and get $10 in reward points.*


What Is a Good Credit Score?

Lenders most often use FICO® Score, but the credit bureaus introduced the VantageScore® in 2006 to provide a score that was more consistent among the three credit agencies.

This is how the FICO Score 8 and the latest VantageScore models break down:

FICO

VantageScore

Exceptional
800-850
Excellent
781-850
Very Good
740-799
Good
661-780
Good
670-739
Fair
601-660
Fair
580-669
Poor
500-600
Poor
300-579
Very Poor
300-499

People with high scores typically have access to higher lines of credit and lower interest rates. Those with low credit scores may not be approved for certain credit cards and loans. And if approved for, say, a mortgage, they will usually pay a much higher mortgage interest rate.

(That said, a conventional mortgage lender is free to set its own requirements when it comes to credit scores. Government-backed loans still have credit score requirements, even if they’re lower.)

How to Check a Credit Report

Under federal law, consumers are entitled to one free copy of their credit report every 12 months from each of the main credit reporting agencies, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.

AnnualCreditReport.com is the only authorized website for free credit reports, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Consumers can also call 1-877-322-8228 and provide their name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth to verify their identity.

If you want to check your credit history more than once a year, you can ask one or all three credit reporting bureaus, for a small charge, for another copy.

Why check your credit report periodically? Mainly:

•   To make sure the information is accurate and up to date before you apply for a car or home loan, buy insurance, or apply for a job.
•   To help guard against identity theft.

Recommended: How To Read A Credit Report

How to Check a Credit Score

The free annual credit reports do not include your credit score — or more accurately, scores. Your credit score from each of the credit bureaus will vary based on the information each has. Lenders also use slightly different credit scores for different kinds of loans.

How to get your credit scores then? Here are a few ways:

•   Buy a score directly from the credit reporting companies or from myfico.com.
•   Look at a loan statement or a credit card statement. Some financial companies provide credit scores for customers as a perk.
•   Use a credit score checker. Some services give consumers access to their credit scores but charge for premium services like checking a score daily. Other sites may require that you sign up for a credit monitoring service with a monthly subscription fee in order to get your “free” score.
•   Sign up for an app like SoFi, which provides free weekly updates on your credit score and tracks all of your money in one place.

When signing up for credit score checking websites, it’s important for consumers to look at the terms of service and ensure they’re not being charged for premium services they do not want.

Also, it’s best to avoid an “educational” credit score vs. a score that a lender would use. For some, there will be a meaningful difference, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says.

What Makes Up a Credit Score?

Learning about what factors make up a credit score can help consumers raise their scores. Main factors that contribute to the score, in order:

•  Payment history (35-40%)
•  Credit utilization
•  Length of credit history
•  New credit
•  Credit mix

In terms of payment history, the most important factor when calculating a score, it’s critical to always repay debts on time.

The credit utilization ratio is the amount that is owed in relation to how much credit a person has overall. Keeping your credit utilization ratio below 30% is commonly recommended.

For the length of the credit history, consumers can increase their score by not closing cards. The longer someone’s credit history is, the better.

Applying for new credit cards and loans that require a hard inquiry into a credit report could bring down a score, even if the result is approval. However, if a score does go down, it shouldn’t take long for it to go back up. It’s multiple hard inquiries on a credit report in a short period that can cause damage. Then again, if someone is shopping for a mortgage or auto loan, both FICO and VantageScore account for multiple hard inquiries in a grace period of 14 to 45 days.

Credit mix refers to credit cards, student loans, auto loans, personal loans, and mortgages. By having a mix, consumers show that they can manage all kinds of debt.

Recommended: What Credit Score is Needed to Buy a Car

Why Credit Scores Matter

Having a high score can help consumers in a number of scenarios.

They will save money, and potentially a great deal of money if they gain access to lower interest rates.

The higher a score is, the more credit someone will be able to access as well.

Consumers can reach their financial goals quicker and utilize better products. For example, they may get approved for a credit card that offers perks like bonus travel rewards or a high cash-back rewards rate. They might also be able to use a card with a 0% introductory APR or 0% balance transfer rate for a certain period.

People with a high score may be able to rent a better apartment or home since landlords will check prospective tenants’ credit.

They may gain access to better car insurance rates and be able to avoid paying deposits to utility companies and cellphone providers.

Improving a credit score could take time, but it’s worth it because in the long run, consumers will save money and potentially reach their financial goals that much faster.

Recommended: Should I Sell My House Now or Wait

The Takeaway

How often does your credit score update? All the time, really, but once a month is a good barometer. You can order a free credit report every year, or you can see updates in your credit score for free or for a fee.

SoFi’s money-tracking tool offers a host of benefits at no charge:

•  Get weekly updates on your credit score.
•  See changes to key factors contributing to your credit score.
•  Link your checking, savings, investment, and retirement accounts as well as credit cards, student loans, and mortgages. Manually add an account or asset to see your entire net worth.

To take control of your credit score and financial future, sign up for SoFi today.



*Terms and conditions apply. This offer is only available to new SoFi users without existing SoFi accounts. It is non-transferable. One offer per person. To receive the rewards points offer, you must successfully complete setting up Credit Score Monitoring. Rewards points may only be redeemed towards active SoFi accounts, such as your SoFi Checking or Savings account, subject to program terms that may be found here: SoFi Member Rewards Terms and Conditions. SoFi reserves the right to modify or discontinue this offer at any time without notice.

SoFi Relay offers users the ability to connect both SoFi accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc.’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. Based on your consent SoFi will also automatically provide some financial data received from the credit bureau for your visibility, without the need of you connecting additional accounts. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score is a VantageScore® based on TransUnion® (the “Processing Agent”) data.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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How the Average Cost Per Year of Raising a Child Has Changed Since the Early 2000s

Having children can be rewarding, but thanks to higher rates of inflation, it’s also getting more expensive. Today, parents can expect to spend around $310,000 to raise a child from birth up to age 17, according to a recent Brookings Institution analysis of data from the USDA.

If you’re considering growing your family, understanding all the costs involved can help you prepare financially. Let’s take a closer look at the average annual cost of raising a child in the U.S. and how that figure has changed over the past two decades.

What Is the Cost of Raising a Child in the US in 2022?

Adjusting for higher future inflation, the Brookings Institution estimates it costs $310,605 for a middle-class family to raise a child born in 2015 up to age 17. Of course, the amount you end up spending depends on a number of factors, including household income, the cost of childcare, and where you live.

If you want more personalized insights to help you plan your spending, consider using an online calculator.

Check your score with SoFi

Track your credit score for free. Sign up and get $10.*


A Comparison of the Cost of Raising in Child in 2000 vs 2022

The average cost of raising a child in 2000 looked much different than it does now, thanks in large part to the recent surge in inflation rates.

In 2000, a typical middle-income family could expect to spend $165,630 to raise a child to the age of 17. In 2022, that same family would spend $310,605, according to the Brookings Institution analysis, which adjusted the USDA’s most recent estimates for higher expected future inflation. Note that this amount doesn’t include extras like summer camp or birthday parties, nor does it factor in the cost of college.

Top Expenses of Raising a Child in 2022

When it comes to the average cost of raising a child from birth to 17, middle-income families can expect to spend around $17,255 per year. The following table shows where that typically money goes.

Cost category

Average percent (%) of spending

Housing 29%
Food 18%
Child care and Education 16%
Transportation 15%
Healthcare 9%
Miscellaneous 7%
Clothing 6%

Source: USDA’s Expenditures on Children by Families, 2015

Top Expenses of Raising a Child in 2000

Average middle-income parents in 2000 spent around $9,201 per year on child-rearing costs. As the chart below shows, housing and food were the biggest expenses. But compared to 2022, parents spent less on other things, like healthcare and child care and education.

Cost category

Average percent (%) of spending

Housing 33%
Food 18%
Transportation 15%
Miscellaneous 11%
Child care and Education 10%
Healthcare 7%
Clothing 6%

Source: USDA Expenditures on Children by Families, 2000

How to Reduce the Cost of Raising a Child Today

No matter when you become a parent, you’ll likely have some major expenses. The good news is, it is possible to save money while raising kids. Here are some tips to consider:

•   Look for ways to lower housing expenses. Housing is the number-one expense for families, so finding ways to trim expenses there can really help you save. For instance, if you’re planning to move, you may want to expand your search to include smaller, less expensive homes located in neighborhoods with lower property taxes.

•   Purchase secondhand clothes. Kids tend to outgrow their clothing quickly. Rather than spend a lot on new outfits, shop secondhand whenever possible. Tag sales, thrift stores, and consignment sites are all good places to explore.

•   Make the most of your local library. Are expensive streaming subscriptions eating away at the family budget? Consider canceling some of those streamers and heading on over the local library. Not only can you check out books and audiobooks for free, you can also rent DVDs and enjoy free events.

•   Shop generic. When it comes to basics like diapers, toiletries, and household cleaners, skip the fancy brand names and go for less-expensive generic versions.

Recommended: From One Child to Two: How to Financially Plan

More Financial Tips for Parents

Whether you’re looking to start a family or add to your brood, there are also some smart financial habits you can start today that can make it easier to afford raising children. As a bonus, these habits can also help you teach your child about money management.

•   Pay down debt quickly. When a borrower takes on debt, they repay not only the amount they borrowed, they also owe interest and fees to the lender in exchange for borrowing the money. That’s why it’s so important to pay off debt quickly. The sooner you erase your debt, the less interest you’ll have to pay.

•   Create a budget that grows with your family. Coming up with a budget — and adapting it to meet your current needs — can help your finances roll with whatever changes life has in store. It’s a good idea to sit down once a month to evaluate what’s working in the budget, what can be improved, and what new expenses are on the horizon. A spending app can also help you keep tabs on where your money is going.

•   Prioritize savings. When you’re raising a family, it’s easy to let long-term savings goals fall by the wayside. One way to make saving second nature is to sock away a portion of each paycheck into a savings account or investment account. By paying yourself first, you’re better positioned to reach your financial goals, whether that’s putting multiple children through college, investing, or saving for retirement.

Recommended: Creating an Investment Plan for Your Child

The Takeaway

Having a family can be rewarding — and expensive. The average middle-class family today will pay around $310,000 to raise a child to age 18. Housing, food, and child care/education are among the top three biggest expenses. The good news is, there are ways to manage expenses and still save for long-term financial goals.

If you need help organizing your finances, consider using a money tracker app. The SoFi app connects all of your accounts in one convenient dashboard. From there, you can see all of your balances, spending breakdowns, and credit score monitoring, plus you can get other valuable financial insights.

Stay up to date on your finances by seeing exactly how your money comes and goes.

FAQ

How much does it cost each year to have a child?

The average middle-class family will spend around $17,255 per year to raise a child.

How much does it cost to raise a child to 18 in 2023?

According to a 2022 Brookings Institution analysis of data from the USDA, a middle-class family will spend $310,605 to raise a child to the age of 18.

How much does a baby cost on average?

The average middle-income household family can expect to spend around $12,680 a year to raise a child from birth to 2 years of age, according to the most recent USDA data.


Photo credit: iStock/Prostock-Studio

SoFi Relay offers users the ability to connect both SoFi accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc.’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. Based on your consent SoFi will also automatically provide some financial data received from the credit bureau for your visibility, without the need of you connecting additional accounts. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score is a VantageScore® based on TransUnion® (the “Processing Agent”) data.

*Terms and conditions apply. This offer is only available to new SoFi users without existing SoFi accounts. It is non-transferable. One offer per person. To receive the rewards points offer, you must successfully complete setting up Credit Score Monitoring. Rewards points may only be redeemed towards active SoFi accounts, such as your SoFi Checking or Savings account, subject to program terms that may be found here: SoFi Member Rewards Terms and Conditions. SoFi reserves the right to modify or discontinue this offer at any time without notice.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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