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Cards with free credit scores: List continues to expand

By Fred O. Williams
Published: August 20, 2015

Cards with free credit scores expand
Cards with free credit scores: List continues to expand

American Express cardholders can now see their FICO credit score for free online, as the big issuer joins the list of cards with free scores.

All consumer cardholders, of both charge cards and credit cards, can see their FICO score on the AmEx website, updated monthly, the company announced Aug. 20. Related materials for understanding scores will also be provided.

"It's really one more step closer to getting all Americans their FICO scores for free," FICO spokeswoman Christina Goethe said. The move will expand the previously announced number of 65 million consumers who can access their FICO score through a company's program launched in 2013, Goethe said.  AmEx has 42.4 million active cardholder accounts in the first quarter of 2015, according to PaymentsSource.com, making it the fifth-largest issuer by size of its cardholder base.

Under the program, banks that pull customers' FICO scores regularly are allowed to share the information with the customer.  Some card issuers provide the VantageScore instead of FICO.

AmEx is providing the FICO 8 score version that the company uses to manage the account, a company statement said.

The news comes on the heels of AmEx losing its No. 1 ranking in JD Power's customer satisfaction survey for the first time in nine years. However, the rollout of free scores has been in the works for some time. Pilot programs have been running since 2014, Goethe said.

The move marks another advance in the trend of banks sharing free credit scores with their customers. Credit scores are a critical indicator of financial health. (See list of cards that offer free credit scores.) 

The trend got a push in January 2015, when President Obama announced that Chase and Bank of America have joined the list of card issuers that have or will provide free scores to cardholders via monthly statements or on their websites.

Financial savvy plus fraud detection
In addition to helping people understand their financial picture, regular access to credit scores can help fight fraud by alerting you when new accounts are opened in your name, or when new applications for credit are filed. More than 100 million Americans have had their personal data compromised in recent cybersecurity breaches, Obama said.

Bank of America will provide FICO scores sometime in 2015 to consumer credit card customers, spokeswoman Betty Riess said. Details on how the scores will be provided and the specific cards eligible were unavailable. Chase will provide access to FICO scores at no cost for its Slate cardholders, spokesman Paul Hartwick said.

FICO is the owner of the formula used to generate the most widely used credit score. The three-digit number between 300 and 850 is used by lenders to screen applicants for mortgages, car loans and credit cards. Increasingly, credit scores are also used by landlords, utilities and insurance companies to check out potential customers.

Under a FICO program announced in November 2013, banks that purchase FICO scores to keep tabs on customers' credit profiles can share the scores with customers -- plus related information about their credit -- at no charge. In April 2014, the credit bureau Experian announced a similar program letting banks share the VantageScore credit score with consumers, plus related information on factors that influence an individual's score.

The CFPB got behind the push for free scores in February 2014, urging major credit card issuers to provide free credit scores and related information to their customers. Many people remain confused about credit reports and scores, what they mean, and what steps they can take to improve their credit profile, the CFPB said. Although consumers are entitled by law to one free copy of their credit report annually from each of the three largest credit bureaus, 90 percent of eligible consumers fail to obtain even one free report, the agency said in a research paper.

Here is a rundown of major credit card issuers and the status for their plans to provide free credit scores for customers. This list will be updated as more information becomes available.

CREDIT SCORES: CARDS THAT OFFER THEM FREE

Card

Credit score program

Date available

American Express
Cardholders (credit and charge accounts) may access their FICO 8 credit scores on the American Express website. Scores are updated monthly.
August 2015
Bank of America
Providing free FICO scores to consumer card holders. 2015
Barclaycard US
Provides free FICO scores to cardholders via the Web, plus email alerts when the score changes, noting the top two factors that are influencing an individual's score.  The initial program was made available to Barclaycard Ring, Arrival, Rewards, Juniper, Frontier and Carnival cardholders on an opt-in basis in 2013, and expanded to other cards in early 2014.
Capital One
Will provide the non-FICO TransUnion Educational Score and credit report summaries as part of a free service called Credit Tracker, for holders of Capital One-branded consumer cards. The service, via the Web and mobile app, includes alerts to changes in your TransUnion credit report and a credit simulator that analyzes how various actions would affect the educational credit score. March 2014
Chase Bank
Providing FICO scores at no charge to its 10 million Slate cardholders. 2015
Citibank
Free FICO scores provided monthly to holders of Citi-branded cards. Score will be the same one that the bank uses for credit decisions.
Starting January 2015
Commerce Bank
Provides free FICO credit scores to consumer credit card holders on monthly statements. Also lists two key factors that are affecting the cardholder's score. Jointly held cards are not eligible. May 2015
Discover
Provides free FICO scores on monthly statements and online to holders of consumer cards. The information includes key factors influencing an individual's score, and up to a year of previous scores. November 2013
First Bankcard
The unit of First National Bank of Omaha provides FICO scores to cardholders. Scores updated monthly, plus related information, are available over the Web. November 2013
PenFed
Provides free FICO NextGen scores online to members with revolving line of credit (such as a credit card), active checking accounts or installment loans. July 2014
Synchrony Financial
Running a pilot to evaluate ways to expand benefits to cardholders. N.A.
USAA Providing free FICO scores to members. 2015
US Bank
Provides TransUnion credit score monthly and online simulator to analyze financial choices. Available to credit card holders and other banking customers.   June 2015
Wells Fargo
Periodically provides Experian's Vantage Score for 90 days through promotional programs. N.A.
Source: CreditCards.com research

Earlier stories: Discover adds to free credit score trend, CFPB urges free credit scores, 4 free, underused credit card perks