If you haven’t heard already, you likely will in a marketing campaign coming your way very soon. Some credit card companies are starting to offer free credit scores to cardholders. These aren’t just any scores, but the all-important FICO score seen and used by lenders.
Unlike credit reports, the only means consumers have of seeing their FICO credit score is to pay for it. While FICO does have a “free” credit score offer, as I blogged last month, this offer requires signing up for its 10-day ScoreWatch trial:
“[FICO's 10-day ScoreWatch] is a score-monitoring service that runs $14.95 a month. While you do have the option to cancel, and may intend to do so before your 10 days is up, free trials are notorious for costing consumers more than they bargained for, as it is so easy to forget to cancel the service before the end of the trial period.”
You may see similar offers from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, all of which use the FICO scoring system, but these scores vary dependent on whatever listings are included on your credit report with each respective bureau. In other words, seeing just one of these scores does not give you a complete picture of your overall credit worthiness.
With all of this in mind, it does seem a tempting incentive to apply for a credit card that will allow you free access to your credit score any old time you like.
But the question is, if it’s tied to a line of credit, how free will your credit score really be?
If you successfully manage a credit card or two right now — spending only as much as you can afford to pay off before interest rates are assessed every month — you’ll likely do just fine adding another credit card into the mix.
On the other hand, if you are notorious for carrying credit card balances from month-to-month, the last thing you need is another one dragging you deeper into debt.
Of course, it may be that one of the cards you already have is one of the companies that will be offering free credit scores. As reported by The Detroit News, the list (as of this writing) includes Discover, Barclaycard US, and First Bankcard. If you don’t have one of these cards, but are very interested in the free credit score incentive, give it time. Other lenders are expected to jump on board.
What do you think? Is having unlimited access to your credit score incentive enough to take out a new credit card? Why or why not?