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82% of Americans check their credit score at least once a year

According to Discover’s latest Credit Health survey, credit awareness is on the rise. An impressive 82% of respondents said they check their credit score at least once a year, a substantial increase from 72% in 2017.

Increased awareness may be due to the accessibility of free credit scores. Credit card issuers, such as Discover, Capital One and Chase, now allow their consumers to access their score at any time. This is in addition to the one free credit report each year that consumers can get from each of the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.

The Discover survey found 56% of Americans are “actively trying to improve their credit.”

Even though most consumers are monitoring their credit, 23% believe checking their score has a negative impact. This is usually not the case. If you check your own credit score, it is considered a soft inquiry. That does not show up on your credit report and does not impact your credit score. Hard inquiries, like those generated when a lender runs a credit application, have a slight impact on your credit, but not much.

Respondents also expressed confusion about the factors that affect credit scores. Over half (53%) did not know that payment history directly impacts their credit score. Only 34% correctly knew that credit utilization affects a score. This is the percentage of available credit that is currently being used.

Moreover, 18% believed income was a credit scoring factor, even though income does not influence a person’s credit score. It could, however, impact a person’s ability to qualify for financing.