FICO Score Open Access: You Now Get A Free Credit Score When You Apply For A Credit Card

light-bulb-momentI recently had a connect the dots moment I’d like to share with you. In a program called FICO Score Open Access, FICO announced on November 4, 2013 that it plans to allow any lender who uses FICO scores to determine an applicant’s creditworthiness to allow the score to also be available to all applicants for free. So far only Barclaycard US and First Bankcard have signed up, but surely a tremendous amount more credit card companies will sign up once the word gets out to consumers.

When I applied for the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard to get double travel rewards points recently (see my review), I received my latest credit score in the mail of 805. At the time, I didn’t think it was strange because I always got my credit score in the mail during all my previous eight mortgage refinances. I also hadn’t applied for a new credit card in a decade so I thought receiving my score was just status quo or at least a nice gesture by Barclaycard. The reality is that most credit cards don’t send you your credit score if you apply for their card. The reason why we do get our credit scores during a mortgage refinance is because we’re paying to refinance or take out a new mortgage. Nobody pays to apply for a credit card!

As any proud personal finance blogger would do, I proceeded to write a post on how to improve your credit score to 800+ with this newfound information. We know that pulling your credit score too often may bring down your credit score. The idea is that if there’s a sudden rush of credit inquiries, it may signal the person is in a cash crunch.

Can you imagine getting your credit score pulled, getting denied by the credit card company, and being left in the dark as to why? That would be as aggravating as getting a college or work rejection letter in the mail with no reason for denial. The new FICO Score Open Access plan will supposedly allow participating banks to show applicants their credit history, any late payments, and debt levels.

You can still get your latest TransUnion credit score for free from a trusted company like GoFreeCredit.com if you aren’t looking for a participating rewards credit card. Just make sure you cancel the credit monitoring service before the grace period is over if you don’t want to get charged for such a service. But now if you apply for a Barclaycard US you get the side perk of a free credit score in the mail.

I’m predicting Barclaycard US and lesser known First Bankcard are going to gain outsized market share of new credit card applicants until every other credit card company participates as well. The FICO Score Open Access system is a great step for consumer rights.

Readers, ever thought it strange that you could get your credit pulled by a company and get rejected for the loan and not know the credit score pulled? Do you think there will be any behavioral changes in using credit cards or taking out loans with the FICO Score Open Access system?

 

Should I Ask Someone For Their Credit Score Before Getting Into A Serious Relationship?

Average Credit Score By Age ChartA very good friend of mine will only marry a woman with at least a Master’s degree from a top 25 school. Given less than 10% of the western world has a Master’s degree, it’s kind of curious why he’d want to limit his pool of mates given he’s still single at 35 years old. The answer is that he has a Doctorate in Medicine from Columbia and a cardiology fellowship from Cornell.

As any good friend should, I’ve made fun of him for years for being so picky. He’d always retort, “Look Sam, I’m a catch! If a woman wants to date me, they’ve got to be up to snuff.” He’s hilarious and I love him for it! I could never quite understand his insistence for a highly educated woman until I finally got an 805 on my credit score this summer. (How To Improve Your Credit Score To 800+)

The difference between an 805 credit score and a 770 credit score is negligible. You still get the best rates by lending institutions who gladly open up their coffers. But to go from a high 700s level to over 800 takes years. The process feels like plate tectonics where land moves only one inch a year. So being the very honest person that I am, I suddenly started thinking questions such as:

“Should I figure out someone’s credit score before I marry them?” 

“Should I set a minimum credit score limit for a woman I plan on dating?”

“Should I raise my minimum credit score hurdle rate for prospective tenants to 760 from 720?”

“Can I fully trust someone with my financials if s/he has under a 700 credit score?”

“Will TransUnion send me a framed copy of my credit score if I ask?”

I’m suddenly an arrogant bastard! I went through some very similar thoughts after I finished business school as well. Suddenly, everybody without an MBA didn’t seem as smart, especially my bosses who just had undergraduate degrees and not even CFA designations. Despite my more experienced bosses bringing in more revenue to the firm, I mentally discounted their achievements. The air of superiority only lasted for a couple months before I returned to a normal cog in the wheel. (Should I Get An MBA To Find A Wealthy Husband Or Wife?)

The more you achieve, the higher your expectations of others. I kind of feel sorry for children of very wealthy parents, brilliant entrepreneurs, celebrities, or double PhDs.

EVERYTHING IS A SCREENING MECHANISM

How To Improve Your Credit Score To 800 And Higher

805 Credit Score Financial SamuraiIt’s been 14 long years and many false hopes but I’ve finally broken 800 on my credit score! The last time I checked my credit score was when I refinanced by primary home mortgage in the spring of 2012 before I left my job of 11 years. My TransUnion credit score actually came back at a dismal 697 because there was a late $8 electricity bill charge my tenants did not pay from three years ago. As a result, my bank said they would not go through with my refinance after I had waited for 80+ days already.

I was able to fix my credit score in 10 days after I told my local utility company to write a “clear credit letter” to my bank. My credit score thankfully jumped back to 797 within three months and my refinance was complete. What is scary about the whole thing is that I had successfully refinanced another property in 2010 with no signs of an impending hit due to the $8 late payment. This is why I urge you to check your credit score once a year to make sure there no errors, especially if you are planning to refinance or take out a significant loan.

My latest credit score check came due to my application for the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard I plan to use for all my travel related expenses. I’m on a 10+ weeks a year travel mission from now on and it just makes sense to sign up for a card that provides 40,000 bonus miles and 2X points for every dollar spent. So it was with great surprise through the application process that my credit score is now 805.

In this article I’d like to highlight the main attributes of determining one’s credit score and my thoughts on how I was able to finally break 800. Hopefully this post will give you helpful first person insight.

How Often Are There Errors On A Credit Report? All The Damn Time!

Lion of Lucerne MonumentThe Oregon lawsuit awarding a woman $18.6 million in punitive damages from Equifax is a big reminder why we should check our credit report at least once a year. Julie Miller contacted Equifax eight times between 2009 to 2011 to fix mistakes including her social security number and birthday on file. She didn’t make much progress.

The Federal Trade Commission found in a 2013 study that 21% of the 2,968 credit reports they investigated contained errors. The survey also found that 5% of the errors represented issues that lead consumers to be denied credit. Various other studies have also shown that 25-30% of credit reports have errors. Pretty high if you ask me.

The purpose of checking your credit score before applying for a mortgage or a loan isn’t only to assess the viability of getting such a loan and figuring out the expected interest rate. The main reason why I check my credit score once a year is because of identity theft and errors. If I’m not taking out credit, someone else better not be using credit in my name!

MY PAINFUL EXPERIENCE WITH CREDIT SCORES

Will Marrying Someone With Bad Credit Hurt My Credit Score?

Bitten Chocolate

Love is love. Ever since I was a wily teenager, I’ve had the romantic notion of being with a woman I care about no matter what her financial circumstance. My father used to subtly encourage me to meet some of his friend’s daughters who so happen to come from wealthier backgrounds. They were never my type unfortunately. Only until I reached college did I realize he was trying to play match maker to ensure my financial well-being.

I remember bringing one girl home to “hang out” at the age of 13. When my parents found out she was raised by a single father, I could sense my parent’s lack of enthusiasm. Or maybe they just didn’t like what we were up while they were still at work! My parents didn’t say anything mean, they just weren’t supportive of my latest fling. They encouraged me to stop messing around and start studying instead.

I also recall talking to my parents at the age of 14 about dating a real life princess. Her name was Tengku Zarina and I was smitten. Zarina was of Malaysian royalty and my parents were fascinated by the potential. Unfortunately, my pursuance failed since she was two years my senior. Girls hate younger boys, which is why single men love growing old. If you’ve wondered why men tend to only date younger women, now you know it’s all the woman’s fault!

CREDIT SCORES, FINANCIAL STATUS AND MARRIAGE

How Much Will A Foreclosure Hurt My Credit Score?

Foreclosure Overlooking Hong Kong HarborThe housing market correction was brutal. If you are one of the millions of people considering foreclosure or a short sale, you need to read this post first and understand all the consequences before proceeding. If you are already in foreclosure or going through a short sale, then you should check your latest credit score and figure out how to climb out of purgatory.

A foreclosure and a short sale have similar negative hits on your credit score. A foreclosure is generally worse because you are not working with your bank whom you owe money to settle your debts. A short sale, on the other hand is debt forgiveness. Your bank agrees to forgive the difference between the sale and what you owe. Just be aware you will probably have to pay taxes on your deficiency. There is no free lunch.

Once your credit score gets trashed, it takes anywhere from three to seven years to fully recover. Sometime your score may never fully recover at all. With all the questions I’ve received on the subject, and my own temptation of letting one of my vacation properties go during the economic crisis, this post should help you weigh the pros and cons of foreclosure or a short-sale. The information is gathered from our friends at FICO, two real estate lawyers I spoke to, my own experience, and thoughts from several mortgage officers.

How Much Will Your Credit Score Get Hit In A Foreclosure?