Check Your Credit Report

It's a good idea to get copies of your credit reports once a year -- and doing so won't hurt your credit score.

If I request my credit report, will it hurt my credit score?

No. Your request for your own credit information won't affect your score. In fact, it's a good idea to check your credit reports and your score at least once a year to make sure there aren't any errors. You can order a free copy of your report from each of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnions) every 12 months at (opens in new tab).

Your credit report may include a long list of inquiries from yourself, lenders and prospective employers. But the FICO credit score compiled by Fair Isaac only counts inquiries when you actually apply for a loan.

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Now that more people shop online for mortgages and car loans, the scorekeepers realize that you might be applying to multiple lenders at one time to compare rates. As a result, the FICO score ignores all mortgage and auto inquiries made in the preceding 30 days. If clusters of inquiries have been made more than 30 days ago, the score counts all inquiries made within one "shopping period" as a single inquiry. For the older version of the FICO score, this period is any 14-day span. A newer version of the score expands the shopping period to 45 days.

For more information about your credit score, see Demystifying Your Credit Score (opens in new tab).

Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.