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 The score has also been referred to as PFICO, because the score was originally made available to Providian card members; Providian was ultimately acquired by Washington Mutual in 2005.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.