UltraFICO Score Could Boost Credit Access for Consumers

This 'second-chance' score looks at activity in deposit accounts and could benefit credit newbies.
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Edited by Kathy Hinson
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FICO credit scoring factors

A newer FICO credit score model may help consumers who don’t quite have the credit scores they need to qualify for a financial product or for the terms they wanted.

The UltraFICO score is an opt-in credit model that uses information from your checking, savings or money market accounts to supplement data already in your Experian credit report. The information considered includes how much you have in savings, how long the accounts have been open and how active they are. It’s meant to enhance your existing FICO score.

The supplemental information could be especially helpful for consumers with scores in the upper 500s to lower 600s, considered bad to fair credit.

Here are answers to some common questions about the newer credit score, which FICO introduced in 2019 in partnership with credit bureau Experian and data processor Finicity.

How does UltraFICO work?

Consumers have to opt in by signing up on FICO’s website and linking their bank accounts, allowing it to scan transactions. The scoring algorithm checks whether the consumer consistently has cash on hand, how long accounts have been open, how active the account is and whether there's been a negative balance.

Lenders that use UltraFICO can offer it to consumers whose credit was not good enough to qualify. If you've been turned down, you could ask the lender if there's an option for them to pull your UltraFICO score. There is only one "hard inquiry" on your credit during the whole process.

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Who will the UltraFICO score help?

The UltraFICO score tends to benefit two groups of consumers:

Credit newbies are more likely to see a significant benefit, assuming they have not had a negative account balance in recent months and maintain positive balances in checking, savings or money market accounts.

FICO said when launching UltraFICO that among consumers who had kept a positive balance and maintained an average of at least $400 in an account, 70% could see higher scores with the addition of that information. Among those new to credit or with thin credit files, FICO research predicts 40% would see an increase of 20 points or more.

What do deposit accounts have to do with credit?

UltraFICO looks at deposit accounts, such as savings accounts, as well as some account activity. FICO says its research shows that an ability to manage finances in deposit accounts can predict a consumer’s riskiness as a credit customer.

The biggest drawback to the newer score? Releasing yet more personal data and trusting that it will be adequately protected. In that way, it is similar to Experian Boost, which adds positive utility and cell phone payments to your Experian credit report and factors it into the calculation of your score.

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