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As part of our 10-day series on Total Financial Fitness, we’ve got six quick workouts, inspired by the popular exercise plan that takes just seven minutes a day, that will help kick your finances into shape. Today: The 7-Minute Credit Check.
To get a handle on your credit history and credit score in just a few minutes, grab a credit card, sit down at your computer, and start the clock.
0:00 There’s only one legit site to get your report: annualcreditreport.com. Click “Request yours now!”
0:07 The form is super easy: Enter your name, date of birth, Social Security number, and address. (Don’t worry: Using your Social Security number is safe here.)
1:03 When you’re finished, hit “next” to pick which reports you want. You’re eligible for one free report per year from each of the three agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Opt for just one for now.
1:55 Next, verify some personal info. The questions vary, but expect to confirm details like names of previous employers or your bank.
2:02 Hit submit and presto: your credit report, with pages of information on your borrowing and credit history. Save a copy to scan for errors later.
3:00 Now you’re ready to get your actual score. Some card issuers, including Citibank and Discover, offer it free, so start there.
3:37 No luck? Surf over to myfico.com, where you can buy it for $20. Pick “FICO standard” and check the box next to the agency you picked for your credit report. See that promo code box? Google “myfico promo code.” Enter the best discount you find: We snagged 20% via retailmenot.com.
4:51 Check out and you’ll be prompted to create a profile.
6:30 Fill in your credit card info, hit “submit,” and there’s your credit score.
Once you have your credit score in hand, you can see whether you need to boost it, and by how much. To get the best rates on mortgages and other loans, you should have a score of 700 or above—a cutoff that only 25% of the population meets, according to the credit tracking firm CreditKarma. For some quick tips on how to improve your credit score, check out the video below: