Thursday, January 15, 2009

FICO Score Benefit To Be Discontinued At WaMu (UPDATE 1 -- Includes Chase Comment)


Original story posted January 13, 2009

The FICO-score perk that many of us have enjoyed as Washington Mutual cardholders for years is being discontinued, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. Chase decided that it would not bring the score onboard as part of the WaMu transition. The phase out will take place in March. WaMu customers will be notified -- via letter -- later this month.

It's now official: the FICO score is dead at WaMu. Read the story here (link).


The loss of this particular perk is a blow. Many WaMu customers, believe it or not, had the card exclusively for the FICO score. The score has also been referred to as PFICO, because the score was originally made available to Providian card members; Providian was ultimately acquired by Washington Mutual in 2005. I would suspect that a good number of customers will end up canceling their cards once they receive the letter from Chase later this month. No explanation was given for Chase's decision to kill the perk.

I hear that there is a chance (though small) that Chase's decision could be temporary -- with Chase eventually bringing the score back -- but I am not counting on that. Indeed, I double-sourced this story. My second source wasn't as sanguine about that possibility. Chase doesn't offer a free FICO score to its customers and, from what I hear, this decision is going to be permanent.

UPDATE, January 15, 2009: In the meantime, Bankrate.com contacted Stephanie Jacobson, a spokeswoman for Chase Card Services, who says that a final decision has not yet been reached regarding WaMu's free FICO score. I continue to stand behind my reporting, but wanted to include Chase's comment. You can read the Bankrate.com story here (link).

The score, called the Bankcard Industry Option FICO, was useful (story link here). It's especially useful if you're going to be applying for a credit card anytime soon, since the score heavily weighs credit-card usage in the model. I imagine that quite a few credit-card companies use this particular scoring model when assessing risk.

That's the latest information that I have. I probably know more than any customer-service representative, so don't expect any answers from WaMu if you call and ask them about the score discontinuance. They won't know anything yet.

If something changes, I will provide an update.

Related Stories:

  • WaMu Cardholders Won't Be Orphaned; Will Be Able To Combine And Convert Existing Cards With Chase In March

  • It's Now Official: WaMu FICO Score Is Dead

  • JPMorgan Chase To Drop Secured Card Despite Favorable Trends

  • WaMu Card Customers: Conversion To Chase Credit Card Coming Soon

  • WaMu Secured Card First Casualty In JPMorgan Chase Acquisition
  • 71 comments:

    1. So much for the warm and fuzzy feeling I had.

      This really sucks.

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    2. Well, I had been working on this story for a week. I got word yesterday. Got another confirmation today. But I had to make sure that I wasn't going to get sandbagged if I wrote the story. I am now comfortable with the story, so I published.

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    3. And it sucks that PFICO will not survive. I liked the perk a lot. Because my card is moving over to Chase, I will look forward to converting my card to something else.

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    4. I wonder how long Chase will make Wamu cardholders wait before the card is treated like a Chase card. I have a card that migrated to Chase, and it was at least six months after I got a card with "Chase" on it that I was able to switch card types.

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    5. Well, that sucks. I have 2 Wamu cards. I barely use them as it is. I guess I need to turn in my ESPN reward points now before the final conversion.

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    6. My guess? Maybe until our WaMu plastic expires. Then when you get the new Chase plastic, you'll be treated like a full member.

      Also, I imagine that some people will not be renewed when their WaMu plastic expires. Just another thing to worry about.

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    7. BYE-BYE ESPN card, no need for you anymore.

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    8. Wish that I could have provided a better story, Joe. Wasn't in the cards, I guess.

      While I heard that the decision could be temporary -- I don't believe it. Things are changing around WaMu quickly so I guess it's always possible that the score could be brought back. But I am not banking on it.

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    9. I'm with NYRFann - I'll be saying bye bye to my ESPN card as well. It was good while it lasted. We'll always have the ESPNZone. :lol:

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    10. CMB,
      No biggie! Just one less card I have to worry about spending on every couple of months.

      Won't close it until it's gone though.

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    11. I will let my WaMu card stay open -- and then I will ultimately combine it with another Chase card.

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    12. Marilie....

      Funny you say that, that's the only place that I ever used my ESPN card besides paying the occasional utility to get usage.

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    13. CMB,

      It's hard enough to rotate the cards I have.. Just not worth in (IMO) to worry about a 4K line when the card has no benefits. I need to keep up with the important, valued cards I have.

      I listened to the advice of many after my CB post (The Post) and the advice to get credit when I don’t need it. I did if for days like today when I can drop a card and have no 2nd thoughts about it.

      So 1st I dropped Lowes and soon I will drop WaMu, no skin off my back.

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    14. Joe, for someone like you, who has so much available credit, it won't be a problem to ax that card. I wouldn't hesitate.

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    15. NYRFann...I have a regular Visa with them, that I will likely keep and convert. At this point I don't even know if they'd let me keep both. Chase is special. That's the best way for me to sum them up.

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    16. Chase is so special that I have had one -- one -- credit limit increase in over 8 years.

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    17. In the spirit of their recent ad campaign:
      "Customer Matters. Chase What Matters."

      Get a hint! Keep up the good work Chase!

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    18. Well, if they're not giving you one, I'll probably never get one. I got the Starbucks card June 2007. I just keep it for the rewards.

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    19. Customer Matters.

      Chase What Matters.

      But You Ain't Getting a Free FICO.

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    20. M, I am SURE I could request a CLI. But I refuse to take a hard inquiry for it. Soft or nothing -- as far as Chase goes. They are hard or nothing. I won't budge.

      Hence, no CLI for years.

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    21. So soon I'll have a near-useless piece of plastic which can, hopefully, be merged into a somewhat more useful Chase card. The WaMu card wasn't good for a whole lot aside from that. At least to me...

      How unfortunate!

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    22. I think, James, that many of us were hoping that the score would survive the acquisition. But I always figured that it would die.

      I'm hoping that the transition to Chase is fairly seamless. And I hope that it's not a problem to eventually convert our cards into something that is useful. What I am worried about, though, is that these WaMu cards that are being converted will be "special." Special in the sense that we'll be treated like third-class citizens with no privileges.

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    23. Precisely. A card that is basically neutered.

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    24. The only benefit to having a WAMU is gone. Sigh.

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    25. Sigh, indeed, Sam. I wonder how expensive this little perk was. You'd think that Chase could have migrated the deal with WaMu customers.

      By eliminating the score, Chase will have some customers attrite. Probably just another way for Chase to get rid of some of these WaMu customers.

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    26. Wow, glad I didn't unfreeze EX when they tried the multipull on me (they had already pulled TU successfully) for a preapproval. The only reason I wanted the card was for PFICO.

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    27. DM, a lot of readers have told me that they only have the card because of PFICO. Without that, the card is pretty weak. No rewards. My particular card has a very low limit, too.

      We'll see what the conversion process looks like when we get to Chase.

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    28. Thanks for breaking the news, CM! I'll let my acct hit 2 years, then close for good.

      A $1,500 loss won't be even a blip (since joining CB/CM I've gone from under $10k in CLs to over $110k).

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    29. Re: When we get Chase plastic... to reiterate from the other thread, I was told that will not come until our present cards expire. So I'm going to be carrying a WaMu card until 11/11. And probably be treated the whole time like I'm... "special."

      I wonder if the trick that didn't work with WaMu (because Providian still existed even after the acquisition) would work with Chase later on down the line... once the transition is safely in the rear-view mirror, ask for a replacement card (like say the magnetic strip was damaged). Then maybe they'll issue a Chase card, since they can't issue a WaMu card if WaMu no longer exists.

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    30. Opus, sorry it couldn't be better news. I've had the story for a few days. I hinted in another thread that I was working on something. I was hoping that I'd get a contradiction.

      Never happened.

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    31. Right. New plastic won't be issued until the card expires. But, as I said over at CB this morning, it would be interesting to see what happens if your card is lost or stolen -- and Chase is no longer ordering WaMu plastic.

      Once the transition is complete, I would bet my a$$ that a customer will be trying that ploy.

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    32. LOL @ The Scarlet W! Good one, clutchcargo.

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    33. I don't want to wear the Scarlet W for THREE YEARS!! :-( That is cruel and unusual punishment. ("That 800+ PFICO won't help you now... WAMU SCUM!")

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    34. I expect that it will be a lot like non-military members of USAA. We're members, but we don't get any benefits on our credit cards. We're also not eligible for insurance products.

      It could be that way with our WaMu cards -- at least early on. But I am just thinking out loud here. Just doing some guessing.

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    35. My Juniper-to-BoA card immediately enjoyed all the benefits and comforts of any other BoA card, including WorldPoints. Let's hope Chase responds the same way.

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    36. PFICO was a great tool.

      When I first saw it on their website, I was fascinated about my score -- which was in the 700's at the time -- and wanted to see it improve.

      And it was free!

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    37. And, as I have seen from your screen shots, you've always enjoyed a healthy PFICO score. Will be too when it's gone. It's a nice feature and it's a useful score.

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    38. CM,

      I did start somewhere. The first Classic FICO I ever pulled was 703. That was around 2002 or 2003. (I have to dig around to find out for sure.)

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    39. In 2002, my Auto Industry Option FICO score was 704. That's the earliest FICO score that I am aware of.

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    40. One good thing about the PFICO was that since it was right in front of your nose every month, you were more keenly aware of keeping that nose clean. It was like taking a big test every month and waiting for your grade. I'll definitely miss the anticipation. But not enough to close $20k worth of cards, that's for sure.

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    41. If I was going to be stuck with the WaMu card forever, and couldn't combine it with another Chase card, I would be killing mine.

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    42. CM,with your spending habbits you'l never get CLI with Chase...using 5% of available CL?...I was really surprised,that you somehow got one.You need to revolve and use card heavily to get periodical increases.Times is changed,and rules is changeing too.Good luck.

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    43. Anon, the CLI was given years and years ago. I am not surprised that I never got many CLIs on my Chase cards. Didn't use it that much (except for a period of time in 2004-2005).

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    44. By the way, Anon@6:25pm, you never emailed me yesterday. Wanted to get some direction from you regarding some stories. email is plastic101@gmail.com.

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    45. Marcus

      Thank you for posting the valuable information. It is kind of a shame to see this nice feature be discontinued.

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    46. Sohowcome, I agree. I think we were all hoping that it would survive when Chase took over, but we kind of figured it would not.

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    47. Wow, Credit Matters got a free plug at Bankrate.com!

      "The free FICO score available to WaMu cardholders won't survive the transition, according to CeditMattersBlog.com."

      ;-)

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    48. And bankrate.com pointed to two of my stories in that story. They pointed to this one and they pointed to my story about Chase discontinuing the WaMu secured card.

      As for the FICO story, I would love to be wrong on this. I'd rather have the FICO score survive.

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    49. Except Bankrate.com did say CreditMattersBlog.com -- not Cedit... hehe.

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    50. My Copy and Paste must've burped!

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    51. I was wondering about why my FICO hadn't posted this month--I emailed them and they confirmed the FICO service is finished. They also raised the international charge fee from 1% to 3%. I guess I'll keep the card and just charge something once a year to keep it active for my credit score. My card has morphed over the years: Aria-->Providian-->WaMu-->Chase. It's out of the wallet now, and into the desk drawer with the other crappy cards I have.

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    52. Anon, thanks for chiming in. Just for the record, Chase was given an opportunity a few days ago to rebut my story. Indeed, in the story Chase said that it hasn't made a decision on FICO. I stand behind my reporting -- and continue to say that this score is history at WaMu.

      Anon, a WaMu representative told you that the score is killed? Perhaps Chase -- and its represenative -- need to get these WaMu reps in line. Why is Chase telling the world one thing and reps are telling you another?

      I say the score is killed. Chase says no decision has been made. A rep told you that the score is finished. We shall see.

      Anon, do you have a copy of the email note that the rep sent to you? I'd love to see that. I can update my story with it.

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    53. I have a copy...do you want me to post it here?

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    54. Anon, shoot me a note at plastic101@gmail.com.

      Thanks.

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    55. It's definitely official.

      From http://www.chase.com/wamucards :

      "Review your free FICO® credit score - We're evaluating ways to provide your FICO score through Chase Online because we know it's important to you. As of March 1, however, your free FICO score won't be displayed. Please consider accessing your credit score details for a fee through Chase Credit Builder."

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    56. I'm certainly not arguing that it won't be dead as of 3/1/2009, but the PFICO score on my WAMU account was updated today.

      Slightly off topic and I apologize if you've addressed this in a post I missed, but I wondered whether your reporting has uncovered any information about the rewards programs for WAMU cards. Should I consider redeeming my point balance prior to the Chase transition? In other words, is this potentially a use it or lose it situation?

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    57. Anon, I wrote another story today. I did mention that today's FICO score updated.

      It's Now Official: WaMu FICO Score Is Dead

      http://www.creditmattersblog.com/2009/01/its-now-official-wamu-fico-score-is.html

      Also, I have not done any reporting on the rewards that are associated with the card. That will be yet another thing that we will have to figure out.

      You might want to give WaMu a call and see what they say about that. That's what I would do.

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    58. Time to nix the card...so what if it lowers my score. If you are good the score will always come back up. It 's really time to shop around anyways for another bank. This little tisk just shows that even in this economy Chase is here to serve it's self and not it's customers.
      ToddG

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    59. Todd, I think that's right. Bottom line, Chase doesn't want to spend more money than it needs to.

      Period. End of story.

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    60. THIS is just the tip of the iceberg that will eventually SINK the credit card industry!!!

      How many times can you abuse a customer before they stop coming back? Yeah, they [Visa/Mastercard] are virtually the only game in town--but sooner or later everyone's gonna tire of playing SERFS

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    61. Eminem, love the screen name. Anyhow, eventually the card issuers will go too far. Not sure when that will happen, but they're chipping away at us.

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    62. I am highly disappointed with the change over WAMU has taken with Chase. I have just discovered that several of the features I've enjoyed over the past 3 to 5 years of being a WAMU card member will be discontinued. I am an avid online user who enjoys the convenience of viewing my credit score information which will no longer be available!! I also saw online that they will discontinue e-mail notifications. I can't say anymore about this WAMU/Chase change other than it sucks and I plan on continuing to complain until something is done about it. I also urge other members who are upset with these changes to do the same.

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    63. Anon, no doubt. WaMu cardholders have not fared well in this Chase transition. I'm a Chase cardholder already. I'll be combining my credit limits and closing my WaMu card. I'll miss the Bankcard Industry Option FICO score that we received as part of our WaMu relationship.

      Chase says that it's still thinking about bringing back the FICO perk. I don't believe it. But hopefully they will prove me wrong.

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    64. When I emailed Chase to complain they gave me a bunch of legal BS...basicly fibs about legal agreements that obligate them to no longer provide the FICO. Bottom line: Chase takes away useful customer services because they couldn't care less about customer service/satisfaction (just fat bonuses)

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    65. Yeah. I would say that I definitely nailed this story to the wall. Everything I said -- before it was publicly known, has proven true.

      The decision is permanent. It was discontinued in March. After my reporting, the only people who looked stupid were those who worked at Chase.

      ReplyDelete