Home > Credit Score > Do FSA Cards Affect My Credit?

Comments 0 Comments

As the new year begins, many new enrollees to Flexible Spending Accounts will be getting their debit cards in the mail — a small piece of plastic that allows them to access their tax-free dollars for health care expenses.

But do these cards have any impact on your credit score? Credit scoring expert Barry Paperno has a very straightforward answer.

“While FSA cards look and behave like credit or debit cards where they’re accepted, like debit cards they don’t appear on your credit report or are included in your credit scores, primarily because they’re not truly credit accounts where a lender is making a loan to you,” he says. “Rather, the FSA consists of money you have transferred, or will be transferring, from your paycheck.”

An FSA is an account that holds pre-tax dollars for Americans to use on health expenses. Consumers receive a benefits card that allows them to access the funds, which are automatically rolled into the account via direct deposit. One of the most important catches to an FSA is that participants can lose the money they’ve placed in the account for that year if it is not spent before a specific deadline, which generally is Jan. 1 or March 31, depending on the plan.

Another thing to be mindful of when using your FSA debit card is that all of the charges need to be substantiated in order to prove to the IRS that you’re using the funds for medical expenses and not just to buy a bag of chips because your non-FSA debit card is running low. This means that you need to keep a copy of your receipt for every purchase you make on the card and make sure you’re buying an item that qualifies. The best source of information on what does or does not qualify is your insurance company’s website.

Is there a possibility that FSA cards could eventually factor into a credit scoring model? Paperno says it’s unlikely, but the major credit bureaus would do some research first to figure out how to weigh them in your score.

“If FSA accounts were to be included on credit reports, the credit scoring companies such as FICO (Fair Isaac Corp.) and VantageScore would first want to study the predictive value of this information before considering its inclusion in their credit scoring algorithms,” Paperno says.

Image: Autistic Psycho, via Flickr

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other sponsored content on Credit.com are Partners with Credit.com. Credit.com receives compensation if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any financial products or cards offered.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team