Why Don’t Banks Always Offer Free Credit Scores?By MGB • Oct 25th, 2012 • Category: Credit
While the words free credit score may perk up your interest, don’t get too excited as what you see is certainly not what you are hoping to get. When struggling with credit issues, monitoring your credit core is key to ensure you are improving your score, managing on payments, and sidelining potential errors that can badly damage your credit.
Do banks offer free credit scores?
Recently, Wells Fargo offered free credit scores to their customers for a limited time. After further investigation, however, it appears that this is not exactly what most people are looking for. Traditional FICO scores are in the 300-850 range. Wells Fargo’s VantageScore is an adjusted version of the their 501-990 scale.
It is important to remember that FICO scores are not free. Credit reports are free once each year, but these do not produce your actual credit score. When you choose to look at free credit scores what you are actually getting is an “estimated” score, based on your FICO.
Banks do not always offer free credit scores because they don’t own them. Due to strict lobbying on behalf of financial interest groups, it is nearly impossible to get your score for free. Banks do not own your credit score, but merely provide information on your account standing and credit worthiness to consumer reporting agencies such as Experian, Equifax and Transunion, which are in turn monitored by FICO (Fair Isaac).
Are estimated scores even worth it?
Though you may not be getting the real thing, having a scaled version of your FICO score can still help. The FICO is what is used by most mortgage and credit companies to determine your creditworthiness. Since free scores reflect an estimate of your creditworthiness it is usually a good indicator of whether or not you actually have good credit. If you have a high credit score, your estimated score will be high and vice versa. Where this can be tricky is if you are one of few buyers in middle ground, whose score borders fair and average credit.
Can you ever get a free FICO score?
So, can you get ever obtain your FICO score for free? When you go to purchase a car, the company will run your credit to check out your trustworthiness and likelihood of paying the car off in time. If you really want to check your score for free, simply go in to a car dealership and have them run your credit to see “if you qualify.” The dealer will produce a paper with your actual FICO score. Be sure to take a strong-willed friend with you in order to quickly and effectively shoot down any sales tactics.
Another option for getting your credit score for free is through signing for a free trial through Fair Isaac, the owners of FICO themselves. Their Score Watch service monitors and reports any changes to your credit. You can access the trial for 10 days for free, after which you should cancel the trial to avoid the $14.95 fee for 3 months of credit monitoring.
How much is my credit score?
If you just want to purchase your FICO score you can do that too. It costs $19.95 every time you would like to see it and can be accessed through the Fair Isaac website.
Though you can check your credit score for free in this way, don’t do it too often. As Credit Repair firm Lexington Law warns, each credit score that is requested on your behalf shows up on your credit report. Too many of these requests, and your score will go down. This is because companies perceive you are out seeking too much credit and may incur debt.
Author Bio: This article was written by author and blogger Chase Sagum. Chase covers Financial and Economic topics from a political perspective around the web.