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There’s a new FICO credit score on the horizon and it appears to be different from any FICO Score lenders or consumers have ever seen before. While only the future will tell whether the lending market ultimately chooses to adopt the scoring option, the new UltraFICO Score will make its initial debut to the world in early 2019.
According to the joint press release from FICO, Experian, and Finicity, UltraFICO is scheduled to launch as a pilot program for select lenders in the early part of the new year. Assuming all goes well with the pilot, the next phase will be to make the score “broadly available” to lenders by mid 2019.
Want to see where your credit scores stand? Learn how to access your FICO scores for free here.
You actually have dozens of credit scores associated with your name and credit profiles, not just one. Lenders use these different credit scoring systems, like FICO and VantageScore, to help determine the creditworthiness of applicants for credit cards and loans.
Yet UltraFICO will be different from the traditional FICO Scores you’ve come to know and love (or hate, depending upon your past experiences). For the first time ever you, the consumer, will have the ability to voluntarily add information for FICO to consider during the credit score calculation process.
All previous versions of FICO Scores have been designed to evaluate the information contained in your three traditional credit reports from Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Information outside of your credit reports has been irrelevant from a credit scoring perspective.
UltraFICO represents the first departure from this design in three decades. The new opt-in score enhancement will allow you to voluntarily add data to be considered when predicting your level of credit risk. Specifically, you can choose to allow UltraFICO to view and evaluate your bank transaction data (money market accounts, checking accounts, and savings accounts) alongside your Experian credit report for a chance to improve your credit score.
The “consumer-centric” approach to credit scoring, as FICO describes the new scoring system, may be helpful to subprime consumers whose credit scores currently fall slightly below a lender’s cut-off point for approval. UltraFICO is also touted as beneficial for consumers whose traditional credit reports currently don’t qualify for a credit score (in other words, they don’t contain enough recent data to meet minimum scoring requirements).
UltraFICO works to adjust an existing FICO Score. If a lender uses the UltraFICO scoring process, you may be invited to participate when you apply for new credit.
When you opt in, your bank account data is considered alongside the credit information and other data your lender’s FICO scoring algorithm already reviews. The lender is delivered both scores — the traditional FICO Score and the UltraFICO enhanced score — so it can compare them side by side.
Like any other credit score it creates, FICO won’t release the true blueprint or algorithm to show the world exactly how UltraFICO works. That information is proprietary. It’s FICO’s secret sauce, if you will, and not something which the company wants competitors to see.
Still, some basic information has been made public. Here are a few key takeaways from what is known about UltraFICO so far.
With the recent prevalence of data breaches, including the massive Equifax data breach, you may rightly hesitate before providing your bank account usernames and passwords. If you have poor credit and are looking for a boost it may be worth it to you, but if you already have average or good credit there’s probably no need to increase your risk by providing this very sensitive information.
While the new UltraFICO could usher in some potentially exciting changes for consumers, it’s also important to be realistic in your expectations. The new score isn’t likely to change the landscape of traditional lending overnight. It might not change the way most traditional lenders do business at all.
Changes in the credit world traditionally move at a very slow pace (think frozen molasses flowing uphill). Even if lenders are intrigued about the idea of being able to grant credit access to a larger base of consumers, it will still take time before the new enhanced score is potentially adopted.
Why? Because adopting a new scoring system can be a costly, time-consuming endeavor for any lender to undertake.
Even though UltraFICO may boast improved predictive analytics, lenders will want to be sure that the benefits outweigh the costs of purchasing and implementing the new score. Additionally, lenders typically want time to test the effectiveness of a new credit score themselves — a test drive, if you will — before deciding to use it on a large scale basis for lending decisions.
Nonetheless, a new credit score which allows you more control is something special. It represents an exciting departure from the way credit scoring has worked for the past 30-odd years. Change won’t take place over night — not in the credit world — but UltraFICO may certainly be cause for a little hope and optimism among American consumers.
No matter what your credit scores might be, there’s probably a credit card out there that will fit with your finances and credit history. Take a look at our picks for the Best Credit Cards in a variety of categories.
UltraFICO is a credit scoring model that incorporates bank account data in addition to the usual credit-related information. It’s primarily designed to help individuals with lower scores or limited history increase their odds of approval when applying for credit, so if your credit’s in good shape, UltraFICO might not be very helpful.
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