Most People Say They Are Aware of Their Credit Standing, but Far Fewer Check Their Credit Score More Than Once a Year

By Adam He on 6/21/2017

June 21, 2017. RIVERWOODS, Ill.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Three out of four consumers, 73 percent, say they are aware of their credit standing and 61 percent say their credit standing is important to them right now, but far fewer check their credit score more than once a year, according to a recent independent survey commissioned by Discover.

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According to a recent survey commissioned by Discover, 3 in 4 consumers say they are aware of their ...

According to a recent survey commissioned by Discover, 3 in 4 consumers say they are aware of their credit standing, but few check their credit score more than once a year. (Graphic: Business Wire) 

Asked how many times they checked their credit score within the past year:

  • 28 percent of respondents said they didn’t check their score at all during the prior year
  • 21 percent checked once
  • 25 percent checked 2-3 times
  • 12 percent checked 4-6 times
  • 6 percent checked 7-11 times
  • 8 percent checked 12 or more times

“Consumers have come a long way in recent years in building awareness of their credit score and the ways in which it can impact their day-to-day life,” says Ryan Scully, Discover’s vice president of marketing. “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.”

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 percent 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 percent of those who checked their score 7-11 times
  • 52 percent of those who checked their score 4-6 times
  • 48 percent of those who checked their score 2-3 times
  • 31 percent 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 percent to 32 percent, respectively.

Most Check Their Score to Improve or Maintain Their Credit

Among those who checked their credit score during the prior year—regardless of how many times—39 percent said the leading motivation to check their score was to improve or maintain it. That was followed by 18 percent who checked their score out of concern for fraud or identity theft; 17 percent who checked out of curiosity; and 12 percent 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 percent 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 percent; not wanting to pay to check it, 17 percent; and not knowing how or where to check it, 13 percent.

“We launched CreditScorecard.com last year to ensure that everyone, including those who are not Discover customers, have access to their FICO® Credit Score1 for free,” says Scully. “The platform is easy to use, simple to understand and provides insights into many of the factors that contribute to one’s credit score.”

Millennials Are Less Aware of and Place Less Importance on Their Credit Standing Compared to Generation X and Baby Boomers

Millennials place less importance on their credit standing than other generations. Among millennial respondents, 54 percent say their credit standing is important to them right now, compared to 63 percent of generation X and 65 percent of baby boomers. Millennials are also significantly less aware of their credit standing than their generational counterparts, as only 57 percent of millennials say they are aware of their credit standing, compared to 74 percent of generation X and 85 percent of baby boomers.

While 80 percent of baby boomers and 62 percent of generation X think their credit standing is within their control, only 51 percent 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 percent, say that checking their score had a positive impact on their credit behavior, compared to 48 percent of generation X and 41 percent of baby boomers.

“One of the best pieces of advice I can offer young consumers is to get on top of their credit standing early and often,” says Scully. “Don’t wait to check your credit score until just before you’re ready to make a big purchase or apply for a loan. If you get in the habit of checking your credit score at a young age, you can start learning about and building the types of credit behaviors that can, over time, contribute to a healthy credit score.”

About the Survey

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from a YouGov Plc survey conducted on behalf of Discover Financial Services. Total sample size was 2,186 adults (ages 18+). Fieldwork was undertaken March 15-16, 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all U.S. adults. The maximum margin of sampling error was ±2 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.

About Discover

Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) is a direct banking and payment services company with one of the most recognized brands in U.S. financial services. Since its inception in 1986, the company has become one of the largest card issuers in the United States. The company issues the Discover card, America's cash rewards pioneer, and offers private student loans, personal loans, home equity loans, checking and savings accounts and certificates of deposit through its direct banking business. It operates the Discover Network, with millions of merchant and cash access locations; PULSE, one of the nation's leading ATM/debit networks; and Diners Club International, a global payments network with acceptance in more than 185 countries and territories. For more information, visit www.discover.com/company.

1FICO® Credit Scores provided by Credit Scorecard are based on data from Experian and may be different from other credit scores. See Discover.com/CreditScorecard to learn more. FICO is a registered trademark of the Fair Isaac Corporation in the United States and other countries.

Source: Discover Financial Services