Finally: The Truth About How Often You Should Check Your Credit Report

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To be smart about your money, you have to look under the hood once in a while.

That’s why we’re always talking about checking your credit report and credit score. They affect pretty much everything you do with money — buy a house, rent a car, rent an apartment, open a credit card — everything.

Staying on top of your finances means staying on top of your credit report.

That used to mean requesting that free credit report from the major agencies every 12 months.

Then it meant maybe signing up for a credit card that offered your free FICO score periodically.

Now, with apps like Credit Sesame, you can check your credit score — and see what’s in your report — as often as you want.

But… how often should you?

How Often Should You Check Your Credit Report?

John Ulzheimer, an expert on credit reporting and theft, recently told Forbes the “new normal should be that you’re checking [your credit report] every four weeks.”

“It’s simply too important to turn your back on it for an extended period of time,” Ulzheimer said. “FICO and VantageScores are so influential to our collective bottom lines that we should always have our hands on the pulse of our credit scores.”

Forbes points out this “new normal” has come about because of how easy it’s become to check your credit for free.

For me, having my hand “on the pulse” of my credit score was as simple as signing up for Credit Sesame. It lets me see my credit score and a free credit report card anytime I want, plus offers suggestions for steps I can take to improve those bad marks.

Can You Check Your Credit Score Too Often?

Checking your credit score or requesting a credit report won’t affect it. So technically, you can’t check too often. But you could be wasting time.

Your credit score changes based on your credit report, which is based on information lenders report to credit bureaus. Think: Our pals at Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.

Generally, lenders report new information to the bureaus once a month, according to NerdWallet.

If you’re obsessively checking your credit score daily or weekly, it’ll probably disappoint you.

Through Credit Sesame, I get an email once a month letting me know my score has been updated. Maybe it’s changed, maybe not, but I know it’s the latest information.

Checking in daily might make me feel like I’m taking steps to improve my credit, but it wouldn’t actually help any more than checking once a month.

What Should You Do With This Information?

Like checking your oil when you know nothing about cars, checking your credit score does no good if you don’t know what to do with what you find.

(This is why I’m not in charge of the car at my house.)

If you find a mistake during your monthly credit check up, here’s how to dispute it and have it removed from your report.

Now, onto that rattling sound you hear every time you turn the car to the right…

Dana Sitar ([email protected]) is a senior writer/newsletter editor at The Penny Hoarder. Say hi and tell her a good joke on Twitter @danasitar.