creditmonitoringimageOne way to keep track of your credit history is to monitor your credit score. Though the process may seem simple, each credit bureau may calculate a different credit score for you. To complicate matters, there are different types of credit scores. In order to monitor your credit score, some basic information about credit scores is always helpful.

Credit Score Monitoring

Credit monitoring is the process of receiving regular updates on your credit score. You can subscribe to a credit monitoring service that will update you with regards to your credit score according to the terms of the subscription. The subscription plan may provide your FICO score, or the plan may provide you with a similar credit score. Each credit bureau offers several credit monitoring subscription plans. Independent companies, such as MyFico.com, also offer paid monitoring services.

A few free credit monitoring services are also available. CreditKarma.com and Quizzle,com both offer free services to that allow you to obtain and monitor your credit score. However, the score is not a true FICO score. If your ultimate goal for monitoring your credit is to improve your credit score, you don’t necessarily need your actual FICO score. A similar score will suffice to provide you with way to measure your credit history.

The FICO Score

Most creditors and lenders rely on the FICO score to determine an applicant’s creditworthiness. The FICO score is calculated using a secret formula created and owned by the Fair Isaacs’s Company. When you receive a credit score from one of the credit bureaus, you may or may not receive the actual FICO score.

You can always request and pay for your true FICO score from each agency. However, some of the credit reporting companies use other scores created by their own organizations to provide score data to consumers.

What Comprises the FICO Score?

Though the exact formula used to calculate credit score is not publicly available, financial experts have provided a rough estimate of the weight of certain variables on the score. According to MyFico.com, the most weighted factor in the calculation is Payment History. Payment History accounts for roughly 35 percent of the FICO score. The second-most important factor is Amounts Owed on open accounts, which is weighted at 30 percent. The remaining 35 percent is a combination of Length of Credit History, Types of Credit and New Credit.

Other Credit Scores

Other credit scores, such as the Vantage score and the PLUS score, are calculated with formulas similar to the FICO formula. This is why other scores may be similar to the true FICO. This is also why other scores may be helpful when attempting to improve your credit score or for monitoring your score for changes.

Using a service to assist you with monitoring your credit score has never been as important or as easy as it is today. In order to establish and maintain good credit, you should engage in some form of credit score monitoring. Another important reason to monitor your credit score is that changes in your score are the first line in the defense against identity theft.