What's the Score?
Your credit score can mean the difference between being denied or approved for credit. A good credit score can help you get a lower interest rate on a mortgage or automobile loan, qualify for an apartment rental, or even get a job. A low score can cost you more for insurance or even your cell phone plan.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act gave consumers access to free annual credit reports from the three major credit reporting agencies, but does not mandate free credit scores. Some sources, such as Bankrate.com, offer free calculators to help you estimate your credit score range. However, to get your exact number, you have to purchase it from the score provider. If you don't take your credit seriously, a bad score can cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars over your lifetime. So for consumers who want to get smart about their credit, this could be a worthwhile investment.