Two Big Banks Will Give Consumers Their FICO Score—for Free

Two Big Banks Will Give Consumers Their FICO Score—for Free

For years, it was kept relatively secret: that piece of personal data that helps determine your ability to buy a house, a car or even launch a business.

But starting this year, the secret will be out.

On Monday, President Obama announced that Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Chase, two of the largest lenders in the U.S., will start letting some consumers see their FICO scores—for free. Meanwhile, Ally Financial, one of the biggest car loan lenders in the country, is making the same offer to its customers.

The move gives consumers considerably more insight into a process that in the past has been somewhat mysterious. FICO scores are used in about 90% of lending decisions—but consumers rarely know exactly which number the lender is using to determine their eligibility.

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That’s because there are many different types of FICO scores, so even if consumers pull their credit report, they might not see the same information the lender is using.

The decision to change that is partly a response to pressure from the government. In February 2014, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau urged large lenders to give consumers access to their credit scores, saying it had fielded a series of complaints.

Bank of America plans to start showing its credit card users their FICO score later this year; Ally Financial will launch a pilot program to show customers their FICO score in February and will expand the program to all customers this summer. And sometime in the next few months, Chase will begin letting its Slate cardholders see their FICO scores for free.

Between the new programs from Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Chase, as well as other collaborations, the White House estimates that over half of all adults with credit scores will now have access to this information.

If you take advantage of these new opportunities and find your FICO score somewhat disappointing, take heart. These tips will help you boost your number—stat!

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