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Free FICO Score – How to get one.
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FICO scores are used in 9 out of 10 lending decisions. But, until recently, this all-important three digit number was kept secret from consumers. A couple of years ago, consumers were given the option to see their scores for a fee. Now, in a move that makes it easier than ever to get an idea how you look to potential creditors, many banks are providing FICO scores to their customers for free.
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Places You Can Get Your Free FICO Score
In an effort to empower consumers and help people get more educated about credit, many financial institutions are offering free FICO scores to their customers. Want yours? You can get access if you have any of the following accounts:
Car Loans from Ally
Ally is one of the country’s largest auto lenders. As of February, people who have their car loans through this bank will be able to take a look at their FICO scores for free.
Slate from Chase
This popular reward credit card has added FICO scores as a new perk. A representative from Chase said that customers asked for free FICO scores to better manage their finances. Since about 10 million people hold Slate cards, this is a major move toward helping Americans learn more about their credit scores.
Sallie Mae Student Loans
A student loan is often the first installment loan a young adult commits to. By offering free FICO scores, the lender hopes to help young borrowers learn more about credit.
Barclaycard and Discover
FICO launched a partnership program called Open Access in November of 2013. As part of this agreement, Discover IT Card and Barclaycard holders have been able to access their FICO scores each month on their statements.
Bank of America
If you have a credit card through Bank of America, you can start checking your statements for your FICO score later this year.
J.P. Morgan Chase
J.P. Morgan Chase’s plans to give free FICO scores was announced during the recent State of the Union address.
What Determines Your FICO Score
Your FICO score is a three digit number between 300 and 850 that is derived from information in your credit reports. It is possible to have three separate FICO scores, as a score is created for information from each major credit bureau. So, if information shows up on one credit report but not another, it can ultimately change your score. The scores are determined based on five characteristics:
- Your payment history. How good you are about paying back debts you owe is the most important factor in your credit score.
- The amount that you owe. People who have high levels of debt compared to the amount of credit they’ve been extended will have lower scores. Those who keep utilization low, however, will benefit.
- The length of your credit history. Someone who has been responsibly using credit for a decade will score higher than someone who opened their first card last month.
- Types of credit used. Many banks like to see a mix of installment and revolving credit to see how you manage different financial responsibilities.
- New credit inquiries. Each new inquiry temporarily lowers your score. Seeking too much credit can make lenders worry that you are overextended.
The good news is, your score moves up whenever you make positive changes like lowering your credit card debt. Keep up good spending habits, and your FICO score will rise, giving you access to new opportunities.