Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) is now giving customers free access to their credit scores via their online banking service.
The FICO Score Open Access program partners with financial institutions to make access to credit scores free for consumers. Knowing what their credit score is helps people when they are applying for a mortgage, credit card or loan. Good credit is essential for securing the lowest interest rates, being approved for low-fee, high-reward credit cards, renting an apartment and even getting a job.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently called for credit card issuers to make credit scores available to members at no charge. Discover Card was one of the first card issuers to do so, offering free FICO scores on all cardholders’ monthly statements starting last February. Barclaycard and First Bankcard also offer members free FICO scores as part of the Open Access program.
Checking accounts, loans and lines of credit get FICO access
Customers of PenFed who have a checking account, an installment loan, or a revolving line of credit with the credit union can see their FICO scores online. The feature was launched earlier this month and is available to all eligible members.
PedFed has 1.3 million members around the globe and manages upwards of $18 billion in assets. In addition to checking accounts and credit cards, they offer mortgages and car loans.
Improving a FICO score
Once folks find out their FICO score, the next thing they often want to do is learn how they can improve it. FICO scores range from 300 to 850 and are calculated according to five factors:
Length of credit history
Types of credit applied for
Each factor impacts the overall score with varying weight, with the most important factor being payment history and amounts owed. These two things make up 65% of a person’s FICO score. The fastest and most effective way to improve a FICO score is to make all loan payments on time and reduce total debt as much as possible.
Keeping accounts open so you can accrue longer history, refraining from applying for too much new credit at once, and having a mix of credit lines including mortgage, student loans, and credit cards help to create a good credit score.