Is it safe to use the “free” FICO scores that many credit card companies offer with their cards? I am hesitant to click on these because they take you to another site that is different from the credit card web site, and authorize them access to my info. Does authorizing this also “ding” my credit score every time?
It’s great that most major credit card companies are providing customers with the current credit score at no charge every month. This is a legit service and a useful tool for consumers, but it has limitations.
You need to be careful if any credit card company steers you to a third-party website.
It sounds like you may be clicking on an ad or a partner company affiliated with the credit card. You need to make sure you aren’t asked to enter your Social Security number — which your credit card company already has.
Most credit cards will just print your current credit score on your online or mailed statement. But there could be a credit card company out there that re-directs you. It’s fine as long as you’re positive the site is connected to your credit card company.
If you’re in doubt, don’t do it. Call the number on your statement or the back of your credit card and ask customer service about the website you’re being re-routed to.
If you’re dealing with the credit card company itself, and not a third party, it will not affect your credit score. When your credit card pulls your score, it’s considered an “account review” and there is no effect on your score. Similarly, when you pull your own report or score, it doesn’t count as an inquiry and has no effect on your score.
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A couple of other important points:
First, not every credit card gives you an actual FICO score. The real, all-purpose credit score these days is “FICO Score 8.” This has a top score of 850 and is the one we’re most familiar with. There are at least five other versions of FICO scores used by credit cards. And some use Vantage scores. Most common is the FICO “Bankcard Score 8”, which has a top score of 900.
With a FICO Bankcard Score 8, you may have a score of 750, for example. A 750 would be a solid “A” rating on the traditional FICO scale. But on the FICO Bankcard Score 8 scale of 900, a 750 score would be a low “B” rating.
However, that doesn’t mean a score provided a credit card company is worthless if it’s not a traditional FICO score. You can use any company as a guideline of what your score is doing month to month, as long as it’s using the same score model and credit bureau every month. What you’re looking for are big, unexpected changes, say of 30 points or more if you’re comparing apples to apples. This could tip you off to serious errors or fraud.
You can’t really compare a score provided by one credit card with a score provided by another card. They both could be accurate in their own way.
Most of us don’t need to be concerned with our true FICO score on a monthly basis. The real FICO score is most important if you’re getting ready to buy a house or a vehicle.