Have you ever wondered what your credit score is but didn’t want to pay $59.85 to order scores from all three credit bureaus at MyFICO.com? If you have, chances are you’ve found sites like Credit.com, CreditKarma.com or CreditSesame.com that claim to offer you your totally free credit score. Wouldn’t it be great if that was the case?
Unfortunately, these companies are not sharing the full story unless you read the fine print. These scores aren’t really FICO credit scores at all! They’re “FAKO” scores. Some consider them “free credit score scams”.
When you hear people talking about credit scores, the real score most people are referring to is your FICO score. Seeing what your real FICO scores are is important because most credit decisions are based on the real FICO score, not an Experian VantageScore or a TransUnion New Account Score. Luckily, some credit card issuers have begun to give you your FICO score for free.
Discover is the first credit card issuer that has begun to print your real FICO score, not one of the “FAKO” scores listed above, on each and every one of your credit card statements.
Discover uses the TransUnion version of your FICO score based solely on the primary card holder’s credit information. They update it every month so you always have the latest information about your TransUnion FICO score on your monthly statement. They don’t offer scores from all three bureaus, but one real FICO score is better than three “FAKO” credit scores, right?
Barclaycard US is another credit card issuer that has begun to offer FICO scores to their customers. Rather than printing your FICO score on your statements, you can access your FICO score through Barclaycard US’s website. Like Discover, Barclaycard US offers the TransUnion version of your FICO score.
In addition to providing your absolutely free credit score information online, Barclaycard US offers up to the last twelve months of your FICO score history based on when you opened your account. However, they don’t receive a new FICO score every month so you may see months with no scoring data in your 12 month history.
It’s nice to see the history all in one place because you can look at the graph and see how individual credit events have affected your score over the last year.
FICO scores are one of the main determining factors in deciding whether or not you are approved for a particular rewards or cash back credit card. These cards offer very valuable benefits, including sign up bonuses, but most of these cards require excellent FICO scores to be approved for them.
You can use these free FICO scores to make sure you only apply for rewards credit cards when your FICO score is high. You can continue monitoring your FICO score after each application to see how opening new cards affects your FICO score.
This information is vital to make sure you don’t damage your credit with too many new inquiries in a short period of time.
Keep in mind, your FICO score isn’t the only factor lenders consider when issuing new credit. If you’ve used tricks to inflate your score, such as being added as an authorized user on your parents’ oldest credit card, you may still be declined for new credit.
Issuers look at more than just your score to determine the real credit risk you represent and make their decisions accordingly. For example, Chase monitors the total amount of credit you have available through their company. If your credit line gets too high, they’ll deny you for a new card unless you offer to transfer some of your line of credit from an old card to the new card you’re applying for.
Another thing to keep in mind is some issuers don’t even use TransUnion FICO credit scores in their decision making processes. Each bureau, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian, has their own FICO score based on their credit data for you. Most credit card issuers only pull one credit score from one bureau and it isn’t always the TransUnion score. Capital One, however, pulls a FICO score from each of the three bureaus.
That said, your FICO score is still a majority of most new credit decisions. Make sure to monitor it for free if you have credit cards from either Discover or Barlcaycard US. Just remember, it is only the TransUnion FICO score.
Do you currently have a credit card that gives you a totally free FICO credit score? If so, how do you use that information to your advantage? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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