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If it doesn't already, your credit card statement may soon contain some new information. Alongside your rewards points, account balance and due date, you may find three more digits: your credit score.
While it used to be you needed to pay $20 or more to check your FICO credit score, major card issuers such as Discover have begun adding the score to customer statements. It appears to be one more way credit card companies are hoping to stand out among the competition.
Best credit cards for free FICO scores
As of this writing, at least three credit card issuers are providing free FICO scores to their customers.
- First Bankcard: Saying it was one of the first in the country to offer the perk to its credit card customers, First Bankcard is rolling out its free credit score initiative in waves. Those with First National Bank of Omaha branded cards will initially be the only ones to see their score posted as part of their online account information. Then, in the first quarter of 2014, customers with Union Bank, Overstock.com, Scheels All Sports and Sheetz cards will get a peek at their numbers as well.
- Barclaycard: On the same day First Bankcard made its announcement, Barclaycard also said it would begin to offer its U.S. customers access to their FICO credit scores. Like First Bankcard, the scores will be available as part of customers' online accounts. However, Barclaycard notes it will also provide its members historical data so cardholders can track how their score has changed over time.
- Discover: A couple weeks after the First Bankcard and Barclaycard announcements, Discover joined the trend. The company will offer the free scores to members with a qualifying Discover it® card. While the score will be available for viewing online, consumers will also see the score printed on their monthly paper statements.
Why your credit score matters
The move toward providing free FICO scores on credit card statements is good news for consumers. While the government requires the three major credit bureaus to provide free copies of credit reports annually, there is no such requirement for credit scores.
However, the credit score is a crucial factor in determining whether an individual is approved for a loan or line of credit and can also influence interest rates. Those looking for low interest cards or zero APR credit cards may need to have excellent credit, meaning scores upwards of 750 or more.
For those who discover they have less than stellar scores -- anything below 650 is typically considered subprime or poor credit -- all is not lost. FICO suggests checking credit reports for errors, paying down debt and making future payments by the due date. All can help, over time, to take bad credit to great credit.
Will seeing your credit score on your statement instantly change your financial fortunes? No, but it is certainly a nice perk that is making some of the best credit cards on the market a little better.