Use a Credit Score Simulator to Road-Test Financial Decisions

A credit score simulator can help you see which actions, like paying down a particular balance, can help most.
By NerdWallet 
Edited by Kathy Hinson

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A credit score simulator estimates how various financial decisions may help or hurt your scores. You might want to use a simulator if you are wondering:

  • What might happen if you open a new credit card account.

  • How adding a car loan or mortgage might change your scores.

  • How paying down your balances or building a record of on-time payments might influence your scores.

Credit reports and scores are as individual as fingerprints. The same financial action may have different effects on different people’s scores, depending on the specific information in their credit reports. The effects may also vary slightly depending on which credit scoring company, FICO or VantageScore, is providing the score.

A simulator gives you an idea of what to expect before you take an action, but it may not reflect exactly what happens to your scores when you do. More on that below.

You can find credit score simulators on most websites that offer free scores. NerdWallet provides a free credit score simulator as part of its free credit score offering; once you sign up it uses the information in your TransUnion credit report to estimate how various transactions might affect your VantageScore 3.0.

Note that running a simulation doesn't impact your actual score, so you can try out various actions to test their potential effects.

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What to expect with a credit score simulator

Your results will be estimates — not predictions. A credit score simulator is accurate in that it can help you explore the potential impact of an action, but it can’t guarantee that the results would be the same as in the real world.

Various factors — the length of your credit history, the different types of credit accounts you have, your history of on-time payments and your credit limits — can influence how a new transaction might affect your scores. For example, closing a credit card may damage the scores of a person who has one or two credit accounts, but not the scores of someone who has several accounts.

A credit score simulator reflects what happens in real life: Generally, the higher your scores, the more points you may lose when bad things happen and the longer it can take the scores to recover. The good news is that damage to your scores isn’t permanent and you can take steps to rebuild your credit and reach a good credit score.

Get more financial clarity with NerdWallet
Monitor your credit, track your spending and see all of your finances together in a single place.

Other tools to check your financial health

Simulating score changes is only one tool to take the pulse of your credit and help make financial decisions. A significant factor in your credit score is what portion of your overall credit you’re using, and a credit utilization calculator can show you how much you owe versus your overall limits.

If you’re thinking about applying for more credit, calculate your debt to income ratio — a factor lenders consider in approval decisions.

Good financial health often begins with knowing exactly where your money is going. A budget calculator can help you see how much you're spending and set priorities. A savings goal calculator can help you know how much to put away each month for long-term success.

And checking your overall financial health score on NerdWallet can give you a deeper view of your money situation.