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Earlier this year, I shared how credit scores are calculated and which credit cards offer cardmembers a free look at their credit scores. In late February, though, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced that it’s urging major credit card issuers to provide free credit scores and related information to their customers. Several more cards and issuers have since hopped on this bandwagon, so I thought it was time to provide you with an updated list.
Credit Scores and Why They Matter
The most widely-used credit score, known as FICO, helps lenders and credit card companies determine a consumer’s level of fiscal responsibility and risk, as well as alert them to identity theft. The Fair Isaac Corporation, the company that compiles credit score data and sells it to individuals, companies and banks, determines your score via five main factors: 35% payment history, 30% amounts owed, 15% length of credit history, 10% new credit and 10% types of credit.
The FICO scoring system ranges from 300-850, and the higher your score, the better your credit.
Once every 12 months, any consumer can receive their FICO report (largely compiled by three separate agencies — TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) for free through Annual Credit Report. But some credit card issuers also offer their customers the opportunity to see their scores.
Cards That Will Show You Your Credit Score
The following credit cards and issuers include their cardholders’ personal FICO scores for free along with their monthly statement and/or online at any time. Cardholders are also kept informed about the size of their card balance in relation to their overall credit limit, as well as steps they can take to improve their score. All credit card companies purchase their customers’ FICO scores in order to monitor their credit, so the following companies are simply deciding that it makes sense to share that knowledge.
Barclaycard provides cardholders with their TransUnion-based FICO score for free on their monthly statements, either on the Barclaycard site or by mail. Barclaycard also informs its cardholders of changes to their credit score via email alerts – like the one I just received, pictured here:
Capital One provides its cardholders with the non-FICO TransUnion Educational Score and credit report summaries as part of a free service called Credit Tracker. This interactive tool is provided to cardholders both online and via a mobile app.
Credit Tracker includes alerts to changes in a cardholder’s TransUnion credit report, as well as a credit simulator that analyzes how various actions would affect the credit score. Capital One’s cards include VentureOne Rewards.
Citibank offers its cardholders free access to their Experian-based scores via its website, but only for 30 days. Be sure to cancel before those 30 days elapse (the number to call is (877) 562-0452), or your credit card will be charged monthly fees for 12 months worth of membership in a service called Internet Fraud Surveillance, which monitors your credit score, exposure to fraudulent activity, and more.
Discover provides many of its cardholders with their TransUnion-based FICO score for free with each monthly statement. Discover-branded cards that come with this perk are the Discover It, Open Road, Motiva, Miles by Discover, and Escape by Discover.
First Bankcard now provides all of its cardholders with their credit scores via their monthly statements and the issuer’s own website, using Experian-based FICO scores that employ a score range of 250-900.
The credit card division of the First National Bank of Omaha, First Bankcard issues and services credit cards for several community banks and lenders across the US, including San Francisco’s Union Bank, New York Life Insurance Company and San Jose’s Technology Credit Union.
US Bank provides its cardholders a look at their Experian-based credit scores via the Experian website. If you’re a US Bank cardholder, you’ll need to log into your US Bank account and click on a link on the right side of your statement that says, “Know your credit score? Check it free.”
You’ll be informed that you’re leaving the US Bank site, and will be directed to the Experian site, where you’ll have to register your name and email address in order to be shown your score. US Bank-issued credit cards include the Club Carlson Rewards Visa Signature, the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature and Club Carlson Business Rewards Visa Signature.
Walmart Credit Card and Walmart Discover also offer their cardholders a free peek at their FICO scores when they enroll in online statements.
Will More Credit Card Issuers Follow Suit?
At present, it remains to be seen if other credit card issuers will follow this trend and offer their cardholders free access to their credit scores. Wells Fargo occasionally runs promos that provide cardholders with access to their Experian-based scores for 90 days, and GE Capital is presently considering different ways to provide credit score info to all of its cardholders – though possibly not for free.
Speaking of not for free, American Express currently offers its cardholders access to all their TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax credit scores through CreditSecure, an online service that costs $1 for the first 30 days and $14.99 per month thereafter. However, as a holder of American Express Platinum personal and business cards and several Chase cards (including Chase Sapphire Preferred), I can only continue to wish that both of these major issuers would provide their cardmembers with free, unfettered access to their own credit scores.