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Review Of MyFICO and My FICO Credit Score Watch Discounts

Published 2/27/09 (Modified 3/2/12)
By MoneyBlueBook

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As someone who believes the FICO credit score is the single most important number in any person's financial life, I track my own credit score and FICO changes closely and religiously. While admittedly a rather mundane and financially nerdy task, the routine monitoring of one's credit score has far reaching financial benefits beyond just ensuring one's continuous ability to apply for cheap credit or qualify for a discount loan at great rates. A high FICO credit score has broad ramifications that affect everything from your ability to get the best home mortgage rates and the cheapest car insurance premiums, to your capability of stopping identity theft in its tracks. For those that share my appreciation of maintaining a perpetually high FICO score, the practice is made easier with convenient and user-friendly online tracking tools that provide periodic email updates on credit score changes with updated and archived graphs that trace credit score changes over time.

For my own personal credit score monitoring purposes, I use the Fair Isaac company's MyFICO Score Watch program to keep continuous track of my credit score changes and updates. While there are numerous competing credit scoring products out there that purport to track your credit score, only the MyFICO.com lineup of FICO credit score products actually offer you a real FICO score, the only credit rating system that's current universally adopted and used by the vast majority of lenders, creditors, and banks when evaluating your credit worthiness.

The FICO Credit Score Is Important Because It Determines Your Access To The Best Mortgage Rates, Car Loans, Credit Cards, and Jobs

The FICO credit score is the credit scoring methodology brought to you by the Fair Isaac Corporation, the current undisputed leader in the credit scoring market. It is based on the data contained in your personal credit history report and is therefore continuously and routinely updated as credit transactions are added to or removed from your credit files. Thus, as your credit card balances change or when you apply for new loans, your current FICO score is bound to fluctuate as any one score represents only a mere snapshot of your current credit risk at any particular point in time. The FICO score number is based on a numerical sliding scale ranging from 300 to 850 with the higher range representing the least credit risk and the most desirable rating to potential lenders.

While the Fair Isaac Corporation provides the secret but uniform mathematical formula that makes up the coveted FICO credit score, the scoring system is computed based on your credit report information as recorded and retained by the three major credit reporting agencies - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Because your credit history may vary from one credit reporting agency to the next, your FICO credit scores as computed by each credit reporting agency may be different from one another. This is another reason why it's often advisable for those who are imminently seeking a major credit based acquisition such as a major home mortgage loan, to request their 3 FICO credit scores as individually computed by the big three credit rating agencies.

So why should you know your FICO score and why should you care? That's because credit lenders do, and so do a vast variety of organizations and groups such as mortgage brokers, credit card companies, insurance companies, and even landlords and potential employers. While the three digit number FICO represents only your past history of fulfilling debt obligations, the use of the number has been increasingly expanded by a variety of stakeholders to evaluate trustworthiness and financial risk beyond its original intended purpose of predicting future ability to pay back loans. Thus, those who wish to successfully engage in any form of commerce or any consumer activity such as getting their home mortgage loan refinanced, obtaining a 0% balance transfer credit card offer, or even passing an apartment rental background check, it's important to periodically purchase a FICO score report and know where you stand in the eyes of prospective creditors.

Without a doubt (and this is not a mere sales pitch, but a fact), the most reliable way to obtain a genuine FICO score is always via the MyFICO.com website. I advise against obtaining the score through any other less reputable means (as I naively did early on), lest you wind up with one of those useless FAKO credit scores, like the Vantage Score or Plus Score being hawked by a variety of vendors including the credit rating agencies themselves. Remember, the FICO credit score is owned by MyFICO.com and is currently the only widely accepted credit scoring standard among the major U.S. banks and mortgage lenders. When you hear financial experts or random people discussing their credit scores, more likely than not, they are talking about their FICO score, rather than some of the other generic credit score variations.

In the past, it was possible to obtain all 3 of your FICO credit scores from each of the 3 major credit reporting agencies via the MyFICO Complete package, as all three - Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion had agreements with Fair Isaac to sell their respective credit report data and individually computed FICO credit scores via the MyFICO.com homepage. However, due to a recent contractual rift between Experian and MyFICO, the Experian FICO credit score is currently no longer available to ordinary consumers. Obviously this will make it substantially more difficult for ordinary consumers to track and manage their credit scores from one location as it eliminates direct consumer access to one of the three all important FICO scores. Although Experian has indicated that only its own Plus and Vantage Scores will now be directly available to consumers (essentially useless fake credit scores due to their spotty usage among lenders), genuine Experian FICO credit scores will still be available to banks and major lenders that request them. But consumers themselves will no longer be able to find out for themselves where they stand in terms of their Experian FICO scores. Despite the financial depravity and injustice of it all, for the time being at least, ordinary credit score customers will have to rely and make do with the FICO credit scores obtained from the remaining two participating rating agencies - Equifax and TransUnion. Experian should get a punch in the face for this one.

Credit Score Monitoring Can Help Prevent Identity Theft and Help You Improve Your Credit Score Rating

Along with the ability to request your individually computed FICO credit scores from the major credit reporting agencies (currently only Equifax and TransUnion), MyFICO also offers consumers a FICO credit score online monitoring product that helps you keep continuous track of your credit score changes as they occur. With the MyFICO ScoreWatch program, changes to your credit score are automatically plotted out for you by date, and over time, the up and down fluctuations can help you better understand and learn how your financial decisions and mistakes impact this very important number.

For example, as a user of the MyFICO ScoreWatch online product for many years, I witnessed my FICO credit score changes firsthand when I engaged in a festive round of 0% balance transfer arbitrage a few years ago. The sudden large spike in credit card balances caused my FICO score chart to plunge significantly due to my increased debt utilization ratio (a key component of the FICO score). However ScoreWatch showed a dramatically recovered FICO score a year later (by more than 50 points) after I paid back the 0% APR credit card loans in full and on time. Knowing where I stand at all times in the eyes of potential lenders via a continuously updated credit score chart helps to not only motivate me to continuously stay on top of my financial life, but it also encourages me to make regular and timely credit payments to stay as debt-free as possible.

The other primary benefit of using a credit score monitoring tool is to help prevent identity theft. Preventing identity theft is perhaps one of the biggest reasons why someone not otherwise on the verge of purchasing a new car or seeking a home mortgage loan would desire to keep a close watch of their credit score. Heaven forbid, but in the event that your social security number or identity is compromised, and a free-wheeling thief decides to open a�� new credit card account in your name, your automated MyFICO ScoreWatch sentry is likely to be one of the first lines of defense against the unauthorized intrusion. The MyFICO ScoreWatch system tracks changes in credit balances and payment history, and thus sudden increases or appearances of new credit card accounts will quickly trigger an online alert and response. Such alerts can warn you to investigate and find out the cause, before any potential identity theft attempt can ever inflict major financial harm. Priced around the same as the monthly fees charged by identity theft prevention-only products like LifeLock, but with the added benefit of tracking your FICO credit score updates as well, the MyFICO ScoreWatch product offers a pretty attractive multi-service package to credit score addicts and casual personal finance junkies alike.

MyFICO Products Offer Free FICO Credit Scores With 30-Day Trial Periods

Unlike your official free credit reports, your official FICO credit scores cannot be obtained in the same way for free. However, that doesn't mean there aren't any discounted MyFICO deals out there that can provide you your genuine FICO credit score at 15-20% off, or even for free courtesy of a free trial period. Currently, MyFICO offers free product trial options to get your FICO score for free, albeit such methods usually require you to cancel within a pre-determined 30 day trial period to avoid any cost. While I have since moved on to paying for my single FICO's and credit score monitoring services, when I was still a poor struggling student, I frequently relied on popularly available free FICO credit score trial periods via MyFICO to get my three digit numbers. For those who aren't certain if a particular MyFICO product is suited for them, I recommend checking out the desired links below to watch the accompanying demonstration video clips to get a better overview of how each individual FICO product works.

Save 20% Off FICO Credit Score Products With MyFICO Discount Offers

Aside from the free FICO and free credit report trial periods mentioned above, MyFICO currently offers low cost and affordable ways to obtain your FICO credit score and credit report with the aid of FICO coupon codes. To save 20% off all MyFICO offers, simply submit the following discount code at checkout for 20% off the listed price -�� CPPSAVINGS. Please write a comment if the code no longer works. If the 20% off FICO promo code worked for you or if you have any favorable or negative experiences worth sharing, please join the comment discussion below.

1) MyFICO Score Watch - Free FICO With 30 Day Trial Period (Equifax) - The popular MyFICO ScoreWatch online tool allows you to keep close watch of your genuine FICO credit score as it fluctuates up and down based on changes made to your personal credit reports by the credit reporting agencies. Best of all, your past FICO score changes are archived and saved in a very intuitive graphical chart for your review. Your credit report at Equifax is monitored on a daily basis while the associated FICO credit score is tracked and updated on a weekly basis. Anytime there is a credit report change that causes your FICO to suddenly rise or drop, such as a credit card balance change, late payment, or a new account, you are immediately notified online or via phone text message.

For those looking for extra identity theft protection, ScoreWatch alerts you whenever a new credit account has been opened in your name, offering you the warning necessary to investigate before the unauthorized access can destroy your credit irretrievably. A MyFICO ScoreWatch subscription also provides you Score Power reports that break down the details of your Equifax credit report to fully explain the reasons hurting or helping your credit score. These reports are invaluable to those trying to increase and boost their FICO credit scores in anticipation of a future loan or mortgage. There is also a 30-day free trial available. So long as you cancel in time, you can walk away with a free FICO credit score and credit report by Equifax.

2) MyFICO Standard Score and Report - One FICO and One Credit Report (Choice Of Equifax or TransUnion) - If you simply wish to know your FICO credit score and have run out of free FICO credit score trial offers, this MyFICO package is the one for you. With the MyFICO Standard Score and Report, you get to pick a genuine FICO formulated credit score and credit report from either one of Equifax or Trans Union. Each FICO credit report comes with a full explanation of how lenders view you, including a detailed listing of all of your credit card accounts, auto loans, student loans, pending debt collections activity, court judgments, bankruptcies, tax liens, and home mortgage loans in your name. The standard credit report with FICO package also comes with a customized recommendation as to the best course of action to boost your FICO score based on the specifics and particulars of your current situation.

3) MyFICO Quarterly Monitoring - $4.95 FICO Score With 30 Day Trial (TransUnion) - This offer allows you to get 4 genuine FICO credit scores and credit reports from the TransUnion credit reporting agency during a 12 month period. During the course of a year, MyFICO will automatically pull your credit report and FICO score quarterly (every 3 months) so you'll be kept up to date as to what's happening with your credit in regular periodic intervals. MyFICO Quarterly Monitoring also offers a weekly monitoring service for new information tied to your identity including changes in public information and new credit based activity. This package is geared towards those interested in arming themselves against identity theft. Interestingly, the Quarterly Monitoring subscription even comes with complimentary identity theft insurance up to $25,000 with extra assistance towards identity theft resolution in the event you ever become a victim.

Those who are just looking to get a cheap FICO credit score or one that is heavily discounted may wish to cancel after trying the service out for a month. You can cancel anytime after the first month and simply pay the single $4.95 monthly fee and walk away with an affordable FICO score provided by TransUnion. Otherwise, the upfront annual cost is $49.95.

4) Suze Orman's MyFICO Platinum Kit - $49.95 (All 3 Credit Reports, and FICO Scores From Equifax and TransUnion) - This offer is for those who want to know their complete MyFICO credit score and credit report in a single snapshot form (nearly the same as the former MyFICO Credit Complete package). With the Suze Orman MyFICO Platinum Kit, you get all 3 of your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, along with your Equifax and TransUnion generated FICO credit scores.

For those who don't read her books, watch CNBC, and don't know who she is - Suze Orman's a pretty well known and popular financial expert, known for her in-your-face big sister-like financial quips. Some find her berating style a bit annoying, but I actually find her to be pretty enduring, albeit frequently a bit too blunt. However, her FICO Platinum package does a pretty decent job of walking you through the FICO score experience step by step and offers lots of useful tidbits to help you take control of your credit and harness the power of a high credit score. Because it's a Suze Orman product, the package is especially suited for financial beginners and those focused on paying off mounds of debt.

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9 Responses to “Review Of MyFICO and My FICO Credit Score Watch Discounts” 

  1. Michele says:

    This is all well and good, and I have used MyFico in the past and I find their reports helpful, however, I have been reading that the score they sell you, is not necessarily the score they sell to the banks. I am still very uncomfortable with the current crisis, the way credit card grantors are manipulating your score by balance chasing and the like, that no matter what you think your score is, or what they say it is, it is really not going to help right now.

  2. Raymond says:

    Hi Michele,

    Can you provide me a link or news article regarding the suggested claim that MyFiCO is selling different FICO scoring standards to consumers and business lenders? I have always thought and still believe that the FICO credit score formula's a set standard implemented by Fair Isaac but that the algorithm can result in different ultimate FICO scores depending on the specific data retained by the individual credit reporting agencies.

    I think that perhaps is where the FICO discrepancies appear - the fact that although your 3 credit history reports ought to contain the same data but that they in reality differ depending on how Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion save and transcribe your historical credit transactions.

    A FICO credit score is what it is but I know banks view scores ranges differently. Not sure they are or can manipulate the scores directly however.

  3. michele says:

    This article on MSN money: (article link)

    "What's more, the credit scores being touted often aren't the same as the FICO scores used by most lenders. Mortgage brokers and lending officers complain that the "consumer education" scores often sold by two of the bureaus, Experian and TransUnion, can be 30 to 100 points higher than the consumers' actual FICO scores."

    and I am sure I have seen stuff on other sites as well (I read about 50 personal finance blogs off and on, so I really cant remember where it was.

  4. Raymond says:

    Ohh....yes, the MSN article you cited is absolutely correct that the so-called consumer education credit scores sold by credit reporting agencies like Experian and TransUnion can frequently differ significantly from the consumer's actual FICO scores. That's because the VantageScore or Plus credit scores that these agencies try to sell consumers are not scored on the same numerical range or even use the same proportional credit usage factors as the FICO. Thus, different scoring methodology obviously can result in different scores.

    That is why I always highly advocate purchasing the real thing - the FICO credit score by Fair Isaac Corp. The scoring system of the FICO is always consistent so thus so long as you are comparing FICO scores from person to person, the comparison is always consistent - apples to apples essentially. Of course, while the scoring system is consistent, it can certainly differ slightly depending on the specific data recorded by the credit reporting agency. Thus, for the most accurate comparison, it's best to compare FICO credit scores from Experian to FICO's from Experian, and Equifax FICO scores to other Equifax FICO's etc.

    When you start buying the VantageScore or Plus "FAKO" credit scores and attempt to compare them to the FICO, that's when the confusion frequently sets in. Hope that clears things up.

  5. TangMeister says:

    Actually, Michele was on to something when she stated the scores consumers pull from myfico.com may not be the same FICO as what the lender sees. It's been stated that most lenders use the 2004 FICO scoring model for making credit decisions. TransUnion's FICO score on myfico.com, which consumers will receive if they order it, is actually based on the Classic FICO 98 scoring model. Equifax and (until recently)Experian are/were based on the FICO 2004 scoring model. This can make a difference in what FICO score one sees vs. what the lender sees. Add to that the issue of "enhanced" FICO scoring models such as those used for Mortgage, Auto, and Bank (Credit) decisions by lenders, and the score deviation from what the consumer sees broadens.

    FICO 2008/2009 most likely won't be available to consumers for several years from myfico.com. I believe it's been stated that myfico does not change/update what scoring model consumers can purchase until 50% or greater of the businesses are using it. Which begs to question: Why isn't TransUnion already switched over to the 2004 model?

  6. Raymond says:

    TangMeister,

    I will look into this FICO score discrepancy issue more, but that assertion is definitely an interesting difference if proved accurate. The worth of the FICOs are based on uniformity and if there are indeed differences in FICO credit score formulation depending on the version year used, that can be a bit troubling. At the very least, the score issuer should disclose what version the issued score's based off of - FICO 08/08 or FICO 98 etc

  7. MICHELE says:

    I have been noticing this for over a year, but its finally struck people who had what they thought were excellent credit scores. I just have to ask about FICO, how fair is it if they won't disclose the information they use, and the CC companies can manipulate the score by lowering limits, then use that manipulated score to justify raising interest rates to loan shark rates? I can't imagine at some point there will have to be some kind of regulation to stop this manipulation of scores.

  8. Dani says:

    Hey Thanks for the MyFICO discount code...got my discount FICO credit score with no problem!

    I've been following this FICO thread....somewhat concerned about the possibility these FICO credit scores may not be the same...somehow I always assumed they were. I know FICO's are different from the fakos sold by the credit rating agencies themselves, but didn't know the FICO score may differ. Do you guys know this for a fact?

  9. Henry says:

    It seems fairly crazy that there are three different credit scores and there are discrepencies between Fico scores. It's the financial equivalent of using leeches for bloodletting - at some we'll look back and say, what were they thinking? Most people don't know that there can be differences at each credit bureau.

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