Sunday, February 05, 2006

Free FICO score with Providian plastic

Providian (now in the process of becoming Washington Mutual) offers a credit card with an interesting perk: free access to TransUnion FICO scores. If you're not totally booked up with plastic, the card (no annual fee) can be worth having just for that feature. I got the Providian card a year or so ago for a balance-transfer offer; now that it's paid off, I'm keeping the card open just for the FICO. It's easy to access, available right on your sign-in page, and keeps an ongoing record of your score, so you can watch it rise and fall and see how various actions affect it. Mine jumped a small bit when I paid down a chunky balance, and then jumped a lot when Amex hiked my credit limit and my utilization percentage dropped down quite low.

TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian all tally their own FICO scores, so having only the TransUnion one is an incomplete view of your complete FICO status, but regular access to one of the three numbers still provides a useful data point.