If you’re reading this site, you already know how important your credit scores can be. They’re essential to getting credit and a good score is a prerequisite for the best interest rates.
Internet-based credit report monitoring and improvement services aren’t in short supply. If you’ve made the smart decision to find out what your scores look like and to take efforts to improve and protect them, you can choose from many options.
You can go to the site that advertises with a band of 20-somethings who serve up catchy jingles. You can use the service that Ben Stein promotes (note that questions about the quality of this option cost Ferris Buehler’s favorite teacher a regular gig with the New York Times), or you can roll the dice with literallly scores of other sites promising to get you the data and to show you how to improve your scores.
In this extremely crowded arena, one site appears to be separating itself from the pack. A site called myFICO.com has a nice range of products available to those who are ready to smartly deal with their credit and credit scores. It may not have the mindworm musical commercials, but it does have what most people really need–solid information and guidance at reasonable prices.
WHAT DOES myFICO OFFER?
The myFICO.com site advertises four different product options–all of which come with free credit reports for members. They’ve also released a new FREE service for those with an interest in government mortgage relief.
SCORE WATCH: Score Watch is the least expensive product on the myFICO option list. This is an alert service. For just a few dollars per month, it will monitor your credit scores and reports, providing you instant notifications. This is a good way to sense whether the changes you’re making in life and money management are having a postive effect. It’s also a nice protection against unauthorized uses of your credit and/or identity.
Score Watch customers receive two reports from Equifax per year, along with reports detailing their content and menaing. Currently, myFICO is providing a 30-day free trial of Score Watch. You get a credit report, credit score and FICO score with some potentially valuable extras.
SCORE STANDARD: This is an option that has no recurring billing, provides essential information and comes in for less than $20. Score Standard allows myFICO customers to get their hands on either a TransUnion or Equifax credit score and report. This is the ideal option for those who’ve already requested their free annual credit report but who need to check reports or numbers again before being eligible for another free copy.
FICO Standard also comes with a simulator designed to show you how various actions and/or improvements may impact your credit score. This is a great way to get an idea of how you can improve your scores.
SUZE ORMAN’S FICO KIT PLATINUM: While the other sites rely on singers, myFICO has a wildly popular and highly-regarded financial self-help expert on board. Best-selling author and television host Suze Orman does more than lend her name to the company, she’s also involved with one of their more interesting and full-featured products. Suze Orman’s FICO Kit Platinum gives myFICO clients a full range of information and tools for optimal credit managment.
Of course, you get your credit scores and reports–including full explanations of their contents. That essential core information is supplemented with a range of additional tools, all of which are easily accessible online via any Internet-connected computer.
The FICO Kit Action Planner marches users through a step-by-step system to improve credit scores.
- Debt Eliminator shows users how to get out from under their credit card bills by creating a personalized debt analysis and payment plan.
- A bill reminder system will email you to remind you of approaching bills, helping you to break the “late pay habit”, which can wreak havoc on credit scores.
- The InfoVault allows you to save critical information in a secure online location.
- Online Home and Car Coaching gives you a chance to find out what kind of financing and rates you may quality for BEFORE you start shopping for a loan. The myFICO site claims this “could save you thousands of dollars in interest payments over the life of your loan”.
- The FICO Simulator will show you how different actions may influence your credit score.
- Error detection services will highlight potential mistakes in your credit reports and will help you to fix them.
FICO QUARTERLY MONITORING: Knowing your credit score is good. Knowing it and how to improve it is even better. Knowing it, having a plan to improve it and checking it on a consistent schedule is ideal. That’s the idea behind this myFICO product. You get the scores and reports on a quarterly basis, allowing you to track your progress as you make an effort to iprove your scores.
This option includes a number of interesting extras including identity theft insurance and is available for less than five bucks per month. You can also access the free FICO credit score estimator.
MORTGAGE RELIEF. You can use myFICO.com to get FICO scores and mortgage relief information with this new, FREE, option. The Mortgage Relief Online program is sponsored by MyFICO, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation and Money Management International. It’s designed as a way to help individual homeowners learn more about, and to determine their likely eligibility for the US Treasury’s “Making Home Affordable Program”. This government program was designed with the objective of aiding as many as nine million homeowners who may be in difficult straits to avoid foreclosure.
According to MyFICO, the option works like this:
Simply enter a few details about your mortgage and your financial situation and we will instantly tell you if you appear to be eligible for mortgage relief under the Making Home Affordable plan. If you appear to be eligible for a loan modification, you will be connected with a professional counselor from Money Management International who will guide you through the loan modification process.
SUPPORT FOR myFICO
While other online credit reports are consistently lambasted by media sources and consumers as overpriced and unnecessary, myFICO.com continues to receive positive attention.
The New York Times, LA Times, and Wall Street Journal have all reported favorably about myFICO.com and its mortgage relief option, as have many other well-respected newspapers. According to myFICO, The Chicago Tribune has stated, “The best spot I’ve found on the Internet to check my credit is www.myfico.com.”
A quick check of completely independent reviews of the services revealed that most customers are happy with what they get. They get the reports, the scores and the added services without incident. The only complaints you’re likely to find from seemingly reasonable users involve the ease with which one can cancel subscription services. Some feel as though myFICO could be slightly faster and more responsive in this regard.
STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH
The quality of service and rave reviews for myFICO aren’t suprising when you understand who’s behind the site and its products. While many credit report services are owned by elements lacking a long involvement in the credit industry and are hoping to capitalize on consumer fears during these trying economic times, myFICO stands out for its direct connection to those who know the most about the issues.
You see, myFICO is part of Fair Isaac’s consumer division. Fair Isaac is the very company that invented the FICO score. Fair Isaac has been providing these services to consumers since 2001 and have sold over ten MILLION socres since that time. In other words, when you deal with myFICO.com, you’re getting information, scores and direction straight from the horse’s mouth instead of relying on a third party who may or may not have the background or experience necessary to handle things correctly.
While myFICO is a for-profit wing of Fair Isaac, it does offer valuable free information, as well. In addition to the aforementioned mortgage relief tool, the site also features a Credit Education center that offers free content covering issues related to credit scores, how they’re determined, what makes them go and and down, and how to best manage credit. There’s even information targeting new American citizens, giving them a primer on our credit system. While the free information may be simplistic for those with experience and strong interest in matters of personal finance, those just getting started in efforts to improve their situations may find it quite valuable.
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