February 14th, 2009 was a dark day for consumers. Despite the fact that it was Valentines Day, it was also the last day consumers actually had access to all three of their FICO credit scores.
It was February 14th 2009 when Experian and FICO ended their “myFICO.com” partnership that started in June of 2003, leaving us with access to only our FICO scores based on Equifax and TransUnion data.
According to FICO in February 2009, “Experian has notified us that it will terminate its relationship with myFICO.com, effective February 14, 2009.”
According to Experian during the same time frame, “Experian has opted to discontinue its relationship with myFICO effective February 14, 2009.” The news was all bad.
FICO and Experian Team Up
Fast forward a little over four years to today and things are certainly looking up, for a couple of reasons.
First off, Experian and FICO just announced that they would once again team up and make FICO scores based on Experian data available to consumers.
Per a joint press release by Experian and FICO, “Experian will make FICO Scores available to consumers through myFICO.com and through third parties.”
NOTE: It’s important to understand that FICO scores based on Experian data continued to be available to lenders well before and after February 2009, even though they were not available to consumers.
Why Does This Matter to Consumers?
While this might not seem like earthshattering news to most people, it really is a big deal. Any time a consumer gains or loses access to credit scores that are used by lenders it’s worth noting.
And while the FICO score based on Experian data will undoubtedly come with a price tag (myFICO charges $19.95 for scores based on Equifax and TransUnion data) at least consumers will have the option to get three of their FICO scores, which we haven’t been able to say for over four years now.
Mortgage lenders commonly use all three of your FICO scores as a common component to their underwriting practices. Credit card issuers and auto lenders that use FICO scores generally use only one of your three.
In that scenario you won’t know which of your three FICO scores they’ll use. This underscores the importance of the FICO/Experian announcement.
Experian has been busy!
Not to get lost in the shuffle, Experian has also installed the newest version of the VantageScore credit score, referred to as “VantageScore 3.0.” I wrote about it for Mint, here.
We’ll likely see VantageScore 3.0 available to consumers sooner rather than later as Experian seems to be lightening fast when it comes to making products available to the consumer market.
Plus, a prior version of the VantageScore credit score is already available to consumers, at no cost.
The estimated date of the re-release of the Experian/FICO score via myFICO has not been publicly announced by either party.
But, keep in mind, the plumbing is still in place so it seems like all someone needs to do is turn the water back on. Point being, this shouldn’t take too long.
John Ulzheimer is the President of Consumer Education at SmartCredit.com, the credit blogger for Mint.com, and a contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry. The opinions expressed in his articles are his and not of Mint.com or Intuit. Follow John on Twitter.