There are a lot of consumer credit sites popping up lately. Indeed, a number of sites like Credit Sesame, Credit Karma and Credit Wise purport to give you an idea of what to expect when it comes to your credit, and better managing your finances.
These sites can be extremely helpful to you. For example, all three sites provide you with ways you can save money on your loans, by suggesting debt consolidation credit cards, or helping you figure out if you could refinance to a lower rate. Not only that, but you can keep tabs on your overall general credit situation, since some of these consumer credit sites allow you access to a credit report from a major bureau — on top of the access you get through AnnualCreditReport.com.
While consumer credit sites can be helpful, you do need to be aware of their limitations. Here are 3 things you should know about consumer credit sites:
1. The Credit Scores May Not Be “Official”
First of all, you need to realize that the credit scores offered through these sites might not be “official.” There are a number of different credit scoring algorithms, and this means that you might end up with a consumer version of a score, or with a score that isn't actually used by a lender.
This doesn't mean that the credit score is completely useless. Since most of these consumer credit sites offer free access, you can still use these scores to your advantage. While they aren't going to give you the same information that a lender might use, you can still use them to get an idea of the direction in which you are moving. These credit scores offer you a chance to monitor your progress, improve your situation, and watch for red flags.
Realize that some of the premium products and resources offered by some consumer credit sites might cost money. In many cases, you don't have to enter any credit card information when you sign up. This is a good thing. However, if you want access to certain tools or resources, you might be asked to pay. Realize that not all features are available to those with free accounts. You might need to be willing to shell out if you want access to the best tools available.
This might also include extra looks at a credit report. You might be entitled to a free credit report from one of the bureaus once every six months (coordinate this with your free report from AnnualCreditReport.com), but if you want increased access, it could cost you. Read the fine print.
3. You Might Not See All Available Deals
I love that consumer credit sites offer you access to money-saving deals on your financial services and products.
It's important to understand, however, that these sites get kickbacks from leads they send. This means that you might not see all of the deals available to you if you rely entirely on one site. You might only see deals from preferred providers. Be aware of this and comparison shop when making a decision.
Check Out Some Of The Best Credit Scoring Sites
If you want to check out some of the best credit scoring sites, here are 3 of our favorites.
Don't forget to also check your credit report on a regular basis to ensure your identity hasn't been stolen. In addition to a free score, Credit Wise and Credit Karma will give you a free credit report. You can also always get one for free from each of the 3 credit bureaus every year at:
The point is, make sure you're aware of what these sites offer, and how you can use the information you're given. Be sure to read the fine print about if extras will cost you money, and if so, how much. Finally, always stay on top of your credit, especially when you're trying to get a mortgage or some other type of loan.
Consumer credit sites can be great financial tools, but you need to be aware of their shortcomings, and carefully choose how you use them. Have you tried using these consumer credit sites? What has your experience been?