Fashionably late, Citibank joins the free FICO score party. What does this mean? It means that if you have an eligible card, you too can receive a monthly FICO score at no charge. For the less-informed, your FICO score is what banks and all financial institutions look at to determine your creditworthiness. Most people assume that their credit score from one of the big three (Experian, TransUnion, or Equifax), but those organizations all have their own formula to determine your score and they also do not have the same reporting requirements. It’s basically the wild, wild, west when it comes to those companies.
The FICO score is something you can trust.
What will you see? I took a few screenshots so you know what to expect. Keep in mind, your credit score is your own and should be different.
First, you will get the notification that your card is eligible for the FICO score benefit. Always nice to see.
Next, you will see your actual FICO score. While numbers are always good, you should not let this run your life unless you are trying to go for the big enchilada…a house. Otherwise, anything in the 730+ range is good. You would be surprised how many people do not know their score and the power it has on their financial livelihood. Below you can see what factors attribute to my score; both makes sense as I have had recent credit inquiries for two new cards.
Next, you get a little education as to what your score means to the people with the money. Remember what I said earlier about having a 730+ score…it pays to know and it money is saved to know. The difference between a great and meager FICO score can be the difference between having a low interest rate and a very high interest rate.
Finally you get to see what makes up a FICO score. Contrary to belief, having a credit card for 20 years doesn’t mean you are the best to lend money to. Payment history; do you pay on time and regularly is what lenders look at. Credit to debt ratio or ‘amount you owe’ is the next big thing. You should try to avoid racking up too much debt on any credit card. Try to remain around no more than 20%.
For instance, if yo have a $10,000 limit, do not spend more than $2000 unless you really have to. So if you have $4000 in repairs, try to divvy that up between two cards. Why? Lenders are all numbers, they don’t care if your expense was necessary or not, they just want to see how risky it is. To a lender, all $4000 on a card with a $10,000 limit looks like you cannot manage your money and are getting close to the half-way point on your limit. Putting $2000 on two cards or even $1000 on four cards looks like you know how to manage your spending and keep well below your credit threshold.
By the way, I am not a credit expert, so if that did not make sense I suggest the following as a good start:
I know, I have a bad habit of starting with something simple and end up someplace else, but financial security is very important so start now so you can have some kick butt credit later and take advantage of all the great offers just waiting for you.
Let me know what your thoughts are on credit, FICO, and everything else below.
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