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Want Free FICO Scores? There’s a New Option

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Barclaycard US and First Bankcard customers now have the option of seeing their FICO scores for free, FICO announced Monday. When lenders evaluate consumers’ credit applications, they most often use FICO scores, and through a new program called FICO Score Open Access, lenders can opt to give their customers free access to their credit scores.

Credit card issuers purchase credit scores in order to evaluate an applicant’s risk level, and the Open Access program makes those already-purchased scores available to the consumers they belong to.

Credit scores reveal strengths and weaknesses of a consumer’s credit profile, which in turn help lenders determine interest rates and whether or not to extend credit to a consumer. For this reason, it can be helpful for individuals to look at their credit scores and the credit reports on which they are based, so they can make the necessary adjustments to their credit behaviors in order to raise their credit scores and reach future financial goals.

In addition to this program, there are many ways consumers can obtain their credit scores. You can purchase your credit scores from some companies, including the three major credit reporting agencies. Also, Credit.com offers free credit scores and a credit profile analysis through its Credit Report Card.

According to a news release, the Open Access program will show consumers the two most important factors impacting their scores. Identifying those key factors can aid consumers in their financial goal planning, as they presumably work toward higher credit scores. Consumers can only access the program if their financial institution subscribes to it, though it is available to all servicers that use FICO scores to evaluate credit risk.

Tools like this make it easier for individuals to understand the way they look to lenders, and comprehending credit can help consumers make better financial decisions. At the same time, about a third of Americans have never reviewed their credit reports or credit scores, making it more difficult for them to address risky behaviors that may make them unattractive to lenders.

Image: Jack Hollingsworth

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