The content is accurate at the time of publication and is subject to change.
It's National Financial Literacy Month in April, and in keeping with that theme where having a working knowledge of your credit score is a must, FICO announced that they have to date given 150 million consumers free access to their scores via their FICO Score Open Access program.
People who have credit cards and loans with participating institutions get free access to their FICO scores, the same scores lenders use to determine creditworthiness when applying for everything from apartments and home loans to a new credit card. Both Bank of American and Wells Fargo are taking part in the Score Open Access program, as are credit card issuers, auto lenders, student loan providers, and mortgage companies.
For FICO, an Analytics Software firm, 150 million free credit scores represent a new milestone, and is seen as being an important way to help educate consumers about their credit score and its value.
"FICO Scores are used in over 90 percent of consumer lending decisions in the US," said Wehmann. "There are 19 versions of the FICO Score that account for 95 percent of all FICO Scores used in the US. The only way consumers can truly understand how lenders view them is to see the FICO Scores used by lenders. Everything else is just an approximation, and often a very poor approximation. FICO Score Open Access is a big win for consumers, particularly those who are targeted by confusing marketing schemes that offer imitation credit scores."
The inside track on Open Access
The FICO Score Open Access gives people access to their credit score on a regular basis, and are the same scores that lenders access to approve or not approve applications for loans. The scores also come along with an explanation – people get access to two of the factors that played the biggest role in determining their FICO score.
The scores are being given to people via a wide range of methods including paper statements, websites, and apps.
FICO is based in Silicon Valley and was founded in 1956. It is an Analytics Software firm responsible for the FICO scores, but they also hold 165 U.S. and foreign patents, designed to boost business growth, profitability, and customer satisfaction for companies in the financial sector.