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U.S. Banks Weigh Free FICO Scores as Discover Expands Offering

Discover Card
Discover, which began providing FICO credit scores to some clients in November, will now furnish them to all consumer cardholders, the lender said in an e-mailed statement. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

More U.S. banks may soon give free FICO credit scores to millions of card customers along with their monthly bills as Discover Financial Services extends the offering to all of its cardholders.

FICO, formerly known as Fair Isaac Corp., is negotiating with some of the largest credit-card issuers, Anthony Sprauve, the San Jose, California-based firm’s senior consumer-credit specialist, said yesterday in a phone interview, declining to identify the banks. Discover, which began providing the scores to some clients in November, will now furnish them to all consumer cardholders, the lender said in an e-mailed statement.

“It really does come down to the technology-implementation challenges,” Sprauve said. “You’re talking about millions of customers, a tremendous amount of data, and how do you squeeze more data in an already jammed space” on monthly statements, he said.

FICO scores are used in lending decisions, such as for issuing credit cards or setting interest rates on home loans, and are the most widely used credit-scoring formula in the U.S. They previously were available at a cost or through online trial subscriptions. Barclaycard US, a unit of London-based Barclays Plc, and First National Bank of Omaha in Nebraska were the first to offer free FICO scores to some customers in November.

Discover, based in Riverwoods, Illinois, is the sixth-biggest U.S. credit-card lender after JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., American Express Co. and Capital One Financial Corp. Spokesmen for JPMorgan, American Express and Bank of America declined to comment and representatives for Capital One and Citigroup didn’t respond to requests for comment.

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