This past weekend was one of cleanup and organization. I guess being that it is Spring a cleaning makes sense. All the usual around the house stuff, but I added credit report cleanup to the list.
Personally, I don’t use a credit monitoring service. Rick uses TrueCredit, which gives him access to all three scores, all three reports, and monitoring / alerting. At $14.95 / month its a small price to pay for peace of mind if you’re snatching up over 1,000,000 miles and points in a year. Alternatively you can get Citi IdentityMonitor for $4.95 / month.
I don’t use a credit monitoring service for either Sara or I for a couple of reasons:
- We both already have access to our three credit scores on a monthly basis for free. (CreditSesame – Experian, CreditKarma – TransUnion, DCU.org (our credit union) – Equifax)
- We have free access to all three of our credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com (as do all of you), and as Georgia residents we also have access to an additional copy directly through each of the agencies on an annual basis for free. (TransUnion will actually provide an unlimited amount annually)
- In addition to our scores CreditSesame, CreditKarma, and Quizzle give us a rundown and let us know of changes in our reports. So in the event that we don’t pick something up on our 6-month check across the three bureaus directly we’ll pick it up with one of these services.
- At either $10 or $30 / month for the two of us combined I’ll keep the money in my pocket and will stay familiar with the websites I’m using as I recommend them to family and friends. I need to stay fresh on what they provide so that I don’t steer them wrong. My immediate family never login to their accounts to check if anything is going on and I doubt they will; so I do it for them.
We had no problem grabbing all three of Sara’s reports; I on the other hand was only able to retrieve my Experian report through the web. Equifax and TransUnion are both going to send them via mail after they receive the appropriate paperwork. Not sure if I didn’t verify something properly on the website or if they had some intermittent problem. Regardless, two envelopes went in the mail Sunday and I should have my reports in a couple of weeks.
All of the cards we applied for in February were on the report and this is just what I wanted. The next time we’ll run the reports will be about six weeks after our round of applications in August.
In looking through the reports we had no red flags, but a couple of things that either needed to be addressed or explained to me:
- The Bank of America Alaska Airlines card shows up on our Equifax and TransUnion report as a “Flexible Spending Credit Card”.
- We both had Macy’s cards from when we created our wedding registry to get some extra free stuff. These cards are managed by American Express and had $300 limits.
- Sara had both a Gap and Banana Republic card. We’ve been lucky to live near outlet stores for both of them; great deals all around.
The Bank of America Alaska Airlines card being a “Flexible Spending Credit Card” confused me. The first thought in our minds was: ”Flexible Spending Account”. Yeah, its not that at all. A flexible spending credit card is a credit card without a preset limit on spending. This shouldn’t be confused with a charge card; whereby a charge card is one that must be paid off in full every month and also typically does not have a preset limit on spending. I now understood it, and we moved on.
We then called up the number on the report for the Macy’s cards. Good thing they provide the number on the report as not only could I not find my card (which I later did) but Sara most definitely had shredded hers within the past few years. We spoke to a rep who apologized no less than 10 times (for what I really don’t know), but he stepped us through closing out these accounts. Number two; done.
The last thing to tackle was consolidating the cards Sara had with Gap, Inc. Both cards are valid at either store (and also Old Navy, Piperlime, and Athleta); we certainly don’t need both. She decided to keep the Banana Republic card as it offers better benefits. I had asked about moving the available credit on the Gap card to the Banana Republic one however they would not do that.
All in all, no big deal and we invested about 90 minutes in the whole escapade over Saturday morning breakfast getting caught up on what TiVo had recorded. The most important part was really the fact that we went through the exercise. I’m now confident of what accounts we have outstanding, and come time to apply for a new card, loan, or refinance of our house I know exactly where we stand. As I said, we’ll go through the same thing in the Fall. I’ll continue to get our scores and reports throughout the year, but a checkpoint every once in a while is a healthy exercise.
Summary: One lesson learned and two pieces of plastic through the shredder.
If you haven’t obtained your credit reports for free in the past year please visit AnnualCreditReport.com to do so. Alternatively you can mail in your request and have the reports sent to you via postal service. You can even call 877-322-8228 and then have them sent to you.
Deal of the Day
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