Consumers have come a long way in recent years in building awareness of their credit score. The next step for many is to stay on top of their credit standing throughout the year. By regularly checking their score—if not monthly, then at least every couple months—consumers can gain valuable insight into the factors that affect their score, which in turn can help them make smarter financial decisions.”
A new survey conduced for the Discover card reveals three out of four consumers are aware of their credit standing and 61% say their credit standing is important to them right now, but far fewer check their credit score more than once a year.
Asked how many times they checked their credit score within the past year:
• 28% of respondents said they didn’t check their score at all during the prior year
• 21% checked once
• 25% checked 2-3 times
• 12% checked 4-6 times
• 6% checked 7-11 times
• 8% checked 12 or more times
The survey found that those who checked their credit score most often during the prior year were more likely than those who checked their score less often to say that checking their score had a positive impact on their credit behavior, such as paying bills on time, paying down loans and maintaining low balances on their credit cards.
In fact, 70% of those who checked their credit score 12 or more times during the prior year, or an average of once per month, say that checking their score had a positive impact on their credit behavior. That figure compares to:
• 63% of those who checked their score 7-11 times
• 52% of those who checked their score 4-6 times
• 48% of those who checked their score 2-3 times
• 31% of those who checked their score 1 time
Those who checked their credit score most often were also more likely to report improvements to their score. The survey found that those who checked their score 12 or more times during the prior year were nearly twice as likely than those who checked their score just once to say that their score improved greatly or slightly over that same time period, 61% to 32%, respectively.
Among those who checked their credit score during the prior year—regardless of how many times—39% said the leading motivation to check their score was to improve or maintain it. That was followed by 18% who checked their score out of concern for fraud or identity theft; 17% who checked out of curiosity; and 12% who checked before making a major purchase or applying for a loan or credit card.
Among those who had not checked their credit score during the prior year, 48% said the main reason they didn’t was because there was no need to check it. Other reasons included hesitancy to share personal information, 18%; not wanting to pay to check it, 17%; and not knowing how or where to check it, 13%.
Millennials place less importance on their credit standing than other generations. Among millennial respondents, 54% say their credit standing is important to them right now, compared to 63% of generation X and 65% of baby boomers. Millennials are also significantly less aware of their credit standing than their generational counterparts, as only 57% of millennials say they are aware of their credit standing, compared to 74% of generation X and 85% of baby boomers.
While 80% of baby boomers and 62% of generation X think their credit standing is within their control, only 51% of millennials think so.
However, millennials’ knowledge and understanding of their credit scores may soon be on the rise. The survey found that among those who checked their score within the past year, a higher rate of millennials, 54%, say that checking their score had a positive impact on their credit behavior, compared to 48% of generation X and 41 percent of baby boomers.