Take a look at the article for a good refresher course on the difference between credit ratings and credit scores, and why credit scores from different credit bureaus don’t always agree.
The FICO score is best known, but more lenders are now using the competing VantageScore.
Financial tip: Free credit reports are available at AnnualCreditReport.com (caution: be aware of look-alike sites that want to overcharge you for what should be a free service).
You can also pay to obtain your credit score. Says author Blumenthal, “the main reason to shell out for a score is to check it about six months before you want to get a mortgage or car loan. That gives you time to fix any errors on your credit report. If you are going to pay, buy an Equifax or TransUnion FICO score, which cost $19.95 each at myFico.com.”
As Blumenthal suggests, do check your credit reports periodically for errors. A recent study by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) found that 1 out of 5 consumers have errors in their files. If you do find errors, you can dispute the information before that bad credit report trips you up on your way to applying for a new mortgage.