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You may already be familiar with the FICO® Score☉ 8—the general-purpose base credit score. The FICO credit scoring company also creates many other versions of credit scores, including FICO Bankcard Scores.
The FICO Bankcard Score 8 is a type of credit score that uses a 250-to-900 range. It's often used by creditors when you apply for a credit card or a credit limit increase. Here's what you need to know about how this credit score works and how you can improve your FICO Bankcard scores.
What Is a FICO Bankcard Score 8?
The FICO Bankcard Score 8 is a FICO® Score that's created specifically for credit card issuers to help them understand the likelihood that a borrower will be 90 or more days late on a credit card payment in the next 24 months.
The score has a wider scoring range—250 to 900—than the base FICO® Score range of 300 to 850. But industry-specific FICO® Scores are built on top of an underlying base FICO® Score. In this case, the FICO Bankcard Score 8 is built on the FICO® Score 8. And the newer FICO Bankcard Score 9 and FICO Bankcard Score 10 are built on the FICO® Score 9 and FICO® Score 10, respectively. There are older versions of both general-purpose and industry-specific scores as well.
If you apply for a credit card, the card issuer might use this score to determine if you qualify and your account's credit limit and interest rate. However, card issuers and other creditors can choose which score they use.
How to Check Your FICO Bankcard Scores
Although there are many ways to check your credit scores, you'll have to look closely at the product offerings—and sometimes the fine print—to see if you can check one of your FICO Bankcard Scores.
Experian offers a free credit score and credit report, which includes your FICO® Score 8 based on your Experian report. If you want to check additional credit scores, you can sign up for a free seven-day trial of CreditWorksSM Premium. The subscription service includes multiple Experian FICO® Scores, including your FICO Bankcard 2 and FICO Bankcard 8 Scores, with daily updates.
How to Improve Your FICO Bankcard Scores
Because FICO Bankcard Scores rely on a base FICO® Score, the actions you take to improve your base FICO® Scores can also help your industry-specific scores. These include:
- Use credit accounts. Having open and active credit accounts, such as credit cards and loans, can help you show that you can responsibly manage credit. However, you don't necessarily need to open new accounts solely to build credit, especially if you already have open accounts and doing so will result in fees or interest charges.
- Pay your bills on time. Your on-time payments with credit cards and other credit accounts can help you improve all your FICO® Scores. Creditors can report late payments to the credit bureaus once you're at least 30 days past due, which can hurt your scores. Additionally, you don't want to fall behind on non-credit bills because those accounts could be sent to collections, which can then be reported to the credit reporting companies and also hurt your credit scores.
- Quickly bring past-due accounts current. If you fall behind on bills, try to bring your account current as quickly as possible. The negative impact of late payments can increase the further behind you fall, and it may be harder to pay off the full debt as the payments and interest add up. If you're having trouble, look into getting help from a credit counselor who may be able to negotiate with credit card issuers to bring your accounts current.
- Pay down revolving balances. Your credit utilization ratio, a comparison of your balances and credit limits with revolving accounts (mainly credit cards), is an important scoring factor. Learn how utilization ratios are calculated and try to pay down credit card balances—and make early payments if possible—to help improve your credit scores.
Scoring factors related to credit cards might be especially important for your FICO Bankcard Scores, such as whether you have open credit cards with low balances and whether you've ever missed a payment on a credit card.
Monitor Your Credit Report
Every base and industry-specific FICO® Score will depend entirely on the information in one of your credit reports—which is why the same actions can lead all your credit scores to rise or fall. Experian's free credit report monitoring includes immediate notifications for important changes, such as a new inquiry or account, and you can review your credit report, which updates every 30 days. You can also use the online dispute portal if you find an error in your report, quickly see your utilization ratio and get insights into the factors that are most helping and hurting your credit score.