7 Apps That Monitor Your Credit for You

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The average FICO credit score of U.S. consumers is 695, according to the latest data from the FICO company. If you think this number is encouraging, you'll also be glad to hear that 54.7% of Americans are able to score at least a 700!

This data proves that it's very possible to improve your credit score. There's no excuse these days for not monitoring your credit. Credit score monitoring? There are apps for that! Let's review some of the best free and easy to use apps available for giving your credit score a boost.

1. Credit Karma

Claiming that you can sign up for a new account within two minutes, Credit Karma's app offers free credit score tracking. Your score and list of reports are updated weekly. Credit Karma offers a credit report card, which breaks down every factor contributing to your credit score health, such as open credit utilization rate and average age of open credit lines, and helps you understand how your actions affect your credit score.

Keep in mind that Credit Karma shows you a Vantage 3.0 credit score, which isn't the same as a FICO credit score. The app allows you to track your credit score from TransUnion and Equifax (two of three main credit reporting bureaus, the third one is Experian). To learn more details about Credit Karma, take a look at our review.

2. Mint: Money Manager, Budget and Personal Finance

Besides being a free debt management tool, Mint offers a free credit monitoring app that provides an easy-to-understand summary of how you can improve your credit score. The credit score provided under any of these apps is the Equifax Credit Score, which is a proprietary credit model developed by Equifax.

By connecting your bank accounts, credit cards, and investments accounts to your Mint account, you'll have a comprehensive picture of all of your finances, too.

3. Credit Sesame

Credit Sesame's app offers you a peek into your Experian National Equivalency Score (ENES). While the FICO credit score ranges from 300 to 850, the ENES ranges from 360 to 840.

By using this alternate credit scoring model, Credit Sesame is able to perform a "soft" pull on your credit history and show you how much you owe, what your current interest rates are, and what your credit score is.

Additionally, Credit Sesame offers you some refinancing options in partnership with Lending Club to pay off higher-interest debt. To help you understand whether or not this would be a good fit for you, Wise Bread took a closer look at Credit Sesame' services and the steps of the loan process application process through Lending Club.

4. Credit.com

Credit.com is another option to access your Experian National Equivalency Score and Vantage 3.0 credit score at no cost. You'll receive a grade, ranging from A+ to F, for each one of the five factors affecting your credit score: payment history, debt usage, credit age, account mix, and number of inquiries.

Through its visual aids and specific action items, this app allow you to spot credit blunders and understand how to fix them.

5. Experian

Since so many of these apps use the credit rating model from Experian, you may be wondering if you can just go straight to the source. Yes, you can! Through the app you'll monitor changes to your Experian credit profile and have the option to sign up for push notifications directly on your device whenever a change takes place. Your free Experian credit report is updated every 30 days.

6. TransUnion

The credit reporting bureau allows you to check your TransUnion credit report from your smartphone. Similar to the FICO credit score, the TransUnion credit score ranges from 300 to 850. Still, remember that the FICO and TransUnion credit score aren't the same.

7. CreditWise

CreditWise offers free credit monitoring services from Capital One. You don't need to be a Capital One customer to sign up for a new account. If you're an existing user of the Capital One CreditTracker service, you can use your existing username and password that you use at the CapitalOne.com site. Every week, this app will provide your TransUnion credit score. A differentiating factor of CreditWise is its credit simulator, which allows you to simulate ways to improve your TransUnion credit score.

The Bottom Line: Know Your Score!

FICO maintains a total of 28 different FICO scores, which are widely used by issuers of home, auto, and credit card loans. Remember that each one of these apps offers a free snapshot of a credit score based on a separate model and that snapshot is only for educational purposes. If you want to get the actual FICO credit score, you'll have to pay at least $19.95 per month.

While the advice provided by any of these services can be valuable to improve your credit score, your potential lender may be working with a very different score than the one gleaned from an app. If you're working toward meeting the requirements for a mortgage or auto loan, ask your lender what credit score she's using. That way, you'll choose the app that can provide a more accurate estimate.

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