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Millennials have a reputation for not being the most savvy with their finances, but Discover's annual Credit Health survey found they're the generation most aware of their credit score. About nine in 10 (93%) millennials (ages 18 to 34, according to this survey) know their credit score, which is a huge jump from 57% in 2017.
This increased awareness can be attributed to the numerous tools available that make checking your credit score so accessible, Stefanie O'Connell, personal finance expert, tells CNBC Select.
Additionally, she says that many millennials are coming of age and need to check their credit for major milestones, such as renting an apartment or taking out a lease.
In comparison, 79% of Gen X (ages 35 to 54) and 73% of boomers (55 and older) are aware of their credit score. Millennials are also the most likely to believe their credit standing has an impact on their day-to-day life (78%), compared to just 52% of Gen X and 35% of boomers.
When it comes to actually checking their credit score, 82% of respondents said they checked it at least once in the last year, up from 72% in 2017.
It's a good idea to check your credit score on a regular basis for several reasons. For starters, checking your score can make you aware of any possible fraud on your account. If you see a drastic dip in your score, it may indicate that someone opened an account in your name or stole your card number.
Monitoring your score can also help you track progress when building credit. More than half (56%) of respondents said they are actively trying to improve their credit. You can raise your credit score by implementing simple actions into your daily life, such as limiting spending and making on-time payments. Plus the higher your credit score, the more likely you'll qualify for the best credit cards and financing options.
One of the most common myths about credit scores is that checking your score negatively affects it. In fact, the survey found 23% thought checking their score has repercussions. This isn't true, and you can check your credit score for free with most card issuers, such as Discover's Credit Scorecard and Chase's Credit Journey, which are available to everyone.
"Our Credit Scorecard tool was designed to ensure that all consumers — not just Discover cardmembers — have free and easy access to their FICO® Credit Score and factors that impact it," Gaurav Sharma, senior vice president of marketing at Discover, said in the press release. "An increase in both overall awareness and in the number of consumers checking their credit score is exactly what we hoped for when creating the tool."
Even if you have a stellar credit score and are in a good place with your finances, O'Connell urges you to stay on track and stay accountable. She relates checking your credit to practicing yoga: "It's not something you do once and leave. You're not fit for life after a yoga class. It's the same thing with money — we're not in good financial shape forever because we checked our credit one day."
While checking your credit score is a good action to take, it's only the first step. After checking your score, O'Connell recommends you make a plan that can help you achieve any upcoming goals, such as purchasing a home.
"Keep yourself accountable," O'Connell says. "Don't just check your credit score and forget. Keep coming back to it and keep tabs on it."
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