NEW YORK (AP) – July 13, 2015 – Your credit score is an important bit of information that determines a lot about your financial life. But if you wanted to be in the loop, it came with a price tag.
That never seemed fair, but now consumers can increasingly see their FICO score for free – the three-digit number that determines if you'll be approved for a credit card or loan.
Fair Isaac Corp., the company that developed the FICO score, has been working with credit card issuers and lenders to allow them to show customers their FICO score online or on monthly statements. Seeing the score frequently pushes consumers to improve their finances, says Jim Wehmann, a vice president of FICO's scores business.
People with higher FICO scores, which generally range from 300 to 850, are offered lower interest rates on mortgages or have an easier time getting approved for credit cards or loans.
FICO scores are calculated using information from your credit report, a detailed list of your past and current debts. But roughly 45 million Americans have no credit history or credit score, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. FICO is developing a scoring system for these so-called "credit invisibles."
Wehmann offered insight on what you should know about your credit score. Excerpts have been edited for clarity and length.