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Cards with free credit scores: list continues to expand

By Fred O. Williams
Published: February 23, 2015

Cards with free credit scoresMore than 50 million Americans can now regularly get a free look at their credit scores from their credit card issuers. Are you one of them?

"Consumers' credit information is the foundation of their financial lives," Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray said in a Feb. 19 announcement of the milestone.

Most major card issuers provide free scores, or plan to do so in 2015. The scores, a critical indicator of financial health, are on their way to becoming as easily available as credit reports, from which scores are derived. (See list of cards that offer free credit scores.)

However, 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.

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

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 new applications for credit are filed. More than 100 million Americans have had their personal data compromised in recent cybersecurity breaches, Obama said.

USAA and State Employees Credit Union in North Carolina will also offer free scores to members, the White House announced, and Ally Financial will provide scores to its auto loan customers.

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.

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 Exploring various options for consumer education campaigns, would not comment on specifics. N.A.
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 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
Discover Provides free FICO scores on monthly statements, noting two key factors influencing an individual's score, to holders of Discover it, Open Road, Motiva, Miles by Discover and Escape by Discover. The scores are also available online. 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 free Experian credit scores to customers via website.
  N.A.
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