We All Should Have Easier Access to Our Credit Scores

Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is urging credit companies to provide customers with their FICO credit scores for free on their monthly statements. The scores are used to determine our ability to access credit like taking out a loan for a house or car, and on our ability to get a desirable low interest rate on those loans. “Making consumers’ credit scores freely available on their monthly statement or online makes it easier for them to spot problems with their credit report,” Cordray said.

Some companies have already begun offering some FICO scores as perks associated with specific cards:

At least three credit card issuers have begun to provide certain types of free FICO scores to their customers to differentiate themselves from rivals and to educate their cardholders. Discover, for instance, started offering free FICO scores to users of its “Discover it” cards in November, and it recently expanded that to millions of additional cardholders.

Barclaycard, the United States card unit of Barclays, and First Bankcard, the card-issuing arm of the First National Bank of Omaha, also began providing free FICO scores last fall.

FICO scores, which are on a 300- to 850-point scale, are used in most lending decisions. VantageScore Solutions, a joint venture of the three major credit reporting companies, generates a score of its own, but it plays second fiddle to FICO. Many card issuers also provide “educational scores,” but they are not the same numbers lenders use to evaluate consumers.

The most vigilant of us keep tabs on our scores (I’ve occasionally paid Experian to get access to mine), but it should really be something that we all have easy access to.

Photo: Simon Cunningham

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