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It's never a great idea to stop caring about your credit score entirely, but you may reach a point where your credit score takes up less mental real estate. If you have a good score and no plans to borrow money or apply for credit again, you may be able to dial back your level of attention.
Before doing so, however, it's important to make sure you're maintaining the habits that helped you achieve a good credit score in the first place. This includes continuing to keep credit balances low, make all payments on time and preventing accounts from going to collections. Read on to learn more.
Can You Stop Caring About Your Credit Score?
You may very well come to a point where your house is paid for, you've financed your last car and you are not interested in acquiring another credit card. Keeping your credit in tip-top shape might not be the priority it once was.
But there's a middle ground between disregarding your credit score entirely and monitoring it primarily to check for continued credit health and signs of identity theft and fraud. A big, unexplained change in your credit score can give you a heads-up that something is amiss.
For instance, a sudden credit score drop could indicate you've missed a payment on a credit account, or even that someone has opened an account in your name and defaulted. Continuing to keep your finger on the pulse of your credit health can help you quickly take action if your credit takes an unexpected hit.
Why You Should Monitor Your Credit Regularly
Here are some reasons we recommend monitoring your credit even if you are not especially concerned about maintaining an excellent score:
- Identity theft and fraud: Staying on top of reported credit activity can let you know if someone has used your information to try to apply for credit in your name or has used your existing credit fraudulently.
- An unanticipated desire for credit: Life seldom goes exactly as planned, and that is also true of your use of credit. You may decide that the rewards on a new credit card are persuasive enough that you want to submit an application. Or perhaps you want to help your child or close relative by cosigning a car loan.
- Potentially better terms if you use credit: A decent credit score can be a little like car insurance in that it's a good idea to have—even if you end up not needing it. Should you decide to take out a loan―or want to take advantage of an intro 0% APR credit card offer―you will almost certainly need good credit to qualify.
5 Ways to Improve Your Credit Health
If you're feeling like credit-building no longer needs to be a priority, here's how to minimize the time you spend monitoring it.
1. Check Credit Reports Annually
Tie checking your credit to a birthday, summer equinox or some other date that occurs every year. The idea is to have a date when you take care of the task—and put it on your calendar. You can see copies of your credit reports from each of the three credit bureaus for free at AnnualCreditReport.com, and it's smart to take a look. You can also get your credit report for free from Experian anytime. If you see information that's inaccurate, you have the right to dispute it.
2. Make All Payments on Time
All you need to do here is avoid a stumble that could cause a drop in your credit score. A payment reported as 30 days late could cause a significant drop in your credit score. And scores tend to drop much more quickly than they rebound.
3. Set Up Transaction Alerts
If your bank or credit card issuer offers this feature, you can get a text or email that alerts you any time your card is used. If you see a transaction you didn't expect or authorize, call your credit card issuer. You can cancel the compromised card or card number and have a new one issued.
4. Activate a Fraud Alert or Freeze Your Credit
If you don't plan to open a new credit account or want to avoid potential fraud or identity theft, there are actions you can take. You have the right to add a fraud alert to your credit reports. Those last for a year and are renewable. They ask potential creditors to take extra steps to verify your identity before granting credit. If you request an alert from one of the three main credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion or Equifax), the other bureaus will automatically be notified.
You also have the right to freeze your credit, a more severe measure that blocks potential new creditors from accessing your credit reports. You must add security freezes with each credit bureau, and they last until you lift them. Neither freezing your credit nor adding a fraud alert affects your score, and you can still use your existing credit cards and check your own credit. But these actions can keep a fraudster from being able to open an account using your data.
5. Monitor Your Credit
Free credit monitoring is available through Experian. With it, you'll get notifications of activity in your credit reports that can tip you off quickly if someone uses information to try to open an account.
The Bottom Line
You may reach a point where you don't need to build and maintain great credit the way you used to. Once you no longer have a need for credit, it's OK to dial back the level of attention you give your credit score—to a certain point.
You'll still want to keep your credit healthy and be sure that no one else is trying to use your good credit reputation. Low-effort ways to do this include checking your credit reports annually, freezing your credit and setting up account alerts. You can also sign up for free credit monitoring from Experian that gives you real-time alerts about changes on your credit report, such as new inquiries and credit lines.