You're ready to take advantage of your VA loan benefits and buy your first home. Before you do anything else, you're going to want to get a handle on your credit score. That number will determine if you're eligible for a VA loan and what kind of rates you'll get. The credit requirements for a VA loan are lower than those for a conventional loan. Your magic number is a 620 FICOscore.
Keeping track of your score can alert you to any potential problems with your accounts. Even small changes like a $20 late fee on a bill can influence your credit score. So, it's always good to keep track.
Get Your Free Credit Report
How can you keep track of your score? There are lots of credit cards that offers free FICO credit score insights to its members. If your card offers that benefit, you'll typically be able to access your score on their mobile app or online, which will give you a real-time estimate of what your number is.
Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you also have access to your credit reports from all three major consumer credit reporting companies--Equifax, Experian, and Transunion at www.annualcreditreport.com. Keep in mind these three bureaus use different reporting models than FICO does, but they'll be useful for giving you a picture of what your credit looks like.
Once you're there, you should expect to fill out personal information like your address, birthday, name, and social security number. After that the site will take you through to each of your free credit reports. Since you’re technically leaving the annualcreditreport.com site each time, it’ll ask you to verify information to make sure it’s really you and you didn’t just walk away from a public computer. Don’t get freaked out if it asks you about accounts--like a mortgage--that you don’t have. That’s part of the process. Once you get to your report you’ll be able to verify that type of account isn’t open in your name.
What you’ll see once you’re there
The reports all look a little different. But there are a couple things you’ll find on all three of the reports.
- All your loans and credit cards and when they were opened
- Whether they’re open or closed, in good standing or outstanding
- A monthly breakdown of your payments
- A link to dispute any inaccurate information
- If your information has been used to deny your application for credit, insurance, or employment.
You can get additional, free reports if:
- someone has taken adverse action against you because of your credit report
- you’re the victim of identity theft and a fraud alert has been placed in your file
- your file contains inaccurate information as the result of fraud
- you’re on public assistance
- you’re unemployed but want to apply for employment within 60 days
But, wait! This report isn't right!
You were expecting to see an excellent credit score when you got your reports. But there's your number glaring back at you in black and white--and it doesn't look pretty. Then you see it. A big, stinking mistake on your credit report. No. You don't owe $20,000 in student loans. You went to college on the GI Bill and graduated debt-free. So, what gives?
To read the rest of the story, visit mortgages.com.