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Barclaycard has been making some very positive moves in the travel credit cards marketplace as it beefs up its offerings with great products like the Arrival card, and in another new initiative, it has become the first top 10 issuer to offer cardmembers complimentary FICO scores.
Barclaycard announced today, November 4, 2013, that it has partnered with FICO so that cardmembers will have access to the same information that banks and lenders have to better understand their credit. Cardmembers can access their FICO scores right from their Barclaycard online account starting today.
In addition to generating your score, Barclaycard’s site will also provide some simple tools including graphics to help you understand your score and the factors that determine it, as well as a chart that plots your score history (starting three months out) with up to 12 months of data. You can also opt to get an email alert anytime your score changes, making it a really useful way to keep a careful eye on your all-important credit score and catch any potential problems or pitfalls early.
While many companies claim to offer “free” credit scores, most are not accurate or require a fee for ongoing access, so this official partnership is a big advancement in the financial industry and a great step forward for customers.
Barclaycard will initially offer FICO Score Open Access to its Barclaycard Ring, Barclaycard Arrival, Barclaycard Rewards, Juniper, Frontier and Carnival cardmembers on an opt-in basis, and according to their Facebook page, they will then will expand the program to additional card portfolios early in 2014. To get started, simply log onto your Barclaycard account here and accept the terms.
This is yet another proactive move by Barclays, who recently announced that members of their travel community will be able to earn points for contributing their stories and deals with other users. Not only that, you can earn points (redeemable for travel) even if you aren’t a Barclaycard cardholder. This follows on the heels of last year’s launch of Barclaycard’s Arrival credit card in the US market last year, which allow cardholders to redeem their points at a fixed rate of 1 cent apiece for travel expenses such as airline tickets, hotel nights and car rentals and receive a 10% mileage refund on redemptions.
As I have explained in the past, FICO is simply a company that aggregates credit data and sells that information to individuals and companies/banks. There are a number of other credit score companies, like VantageScore, but the most widely used is FICO. It’s a number on a scale of 300-850, with roughly 700 being the average. Per the FICO website, the five main factors of your credit score are: 35% payment history, 30% amounts owed, 15% length of credit history, 10% new credit, 10% types of credit.
There are a lot of different opinions on what constitutes very good credit, but it seems a safe bet would be 720, with 700+ being good. Once you are above 720, it generally doesn’t matter whether you have a 760 or 850. Perfect credit is great to brag about, but realistically doesn’t set you apart from people who have very good credit. In fact, many people can still get in on credit cards with mid to high 600′s – it just depends on your income and history with the lender. Remember, the credit card business is extremely lucrative, so the banks want to have new accounts opened and the threshold for which you will get approved for each lender is kept secret. You’ll generally only find out if you apply, but you can research on sites like creditboards.com.
For more information on understanding your FICO score and on Barclaycard, see these previous posts here:
Barclaycard Launches Online Travel Community Plans To Reward Content Contributors With Points
Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard®