The credit scoring company FICO has created another way, besides your regular credit score, to make you more appealing to lenders.
This new score, known as the FICO Resilience Index, can help people with low traditional credit scores. While your traditional FICO score is designed to forecast the probability that you’ll go three months past due or worse on any debt, the resilience score is specifically suited for the pandemic economy.
“The resilience index is designed to predict how well you’ll ride out economic environments,” says John Ulzheimer, former FICO and Equifax employee.
What is the FICO Resilience Index Score?
In order to have a FICO Resilience Index score assigned to you, your credit profile must have at least one open account that reported to one of the credit bureaus in the last six months. Consumers with low balances, fewer accounts with balances and low balances relative to credit limits indicate low risk of missing payments. In other words, they have financial resilience, says Ulzheimer.
The FICO Resilience Index was designed to overcome at least some of the credit restrictions that could stall an economic recovery. Score numbers range from 1-99, with 1-44 being the most resilient and 70-99 the least resilient. The most resilient scorers have the most experience managing credit, have lower credit balances, fewer active accounts and the least amount of credit inquiries in the last year.
FICO Scores range from 300, the lowest, to 850, the top score. This could confuse consumers with the FICO Score favoring the highest number and a good FICO Resilience Index score being the lowest number. They are opposites.
Datar Sahi, head of marketing at Credit Reporting Services, a credit reporting agency, says the plan is for the new resilience index to be used in conjunction with FICO Scores and other information about the borrower to measure their risk during an economic downturn.
“The standard FICO Score measures the risk associated with lending to a person without taking the state of the economy into consideration,” says Sahi.
Lenders using the resilience index score will have a greater level of confidence to lend to consumers with a lower than average FICO score, he says. In essence this new tool can serve as a tiebreaker if the borrower is near qualifying, but not quite there. The more information that is available, the better, says Sahi.
FICO says it will report resilience scores to lenders who already use their credit scores. That may change in the future.
Will Lenders Jump on This New Bandwagon?
Both Sahi and Ulzheimer agree that the resilience score will take time to catch on. Lenders are slow to adopt new methods of qualifying their borrowers.
“They don’t want to go through the pains of assessing a new score and applying it to their business because it potentially presents new risk,” explains Sahi.
Ulzheimer points out that FICO 9 has been available for almost six years, but lenders still widely use generation FICO 8, which was introduced in 2009. They must research and assess new tools before actually implementing them, he says. They’ll ask themselves how it will affect their bottom lines and their decision-making.
If and when they find enough benefits to employ the FICO Resilience Index scores, says Ulzheimer, some refusals may change to approvals, but also some acceptances may turn into denials.
What’s Your FICO Resilience Index Score?
Although your FICO Score is free to you from various sources including many credit unions, the same is not true for your FICO Resilience Index score. That one will cost you.
According to a MyFICO spokesperson, you must subscribe to either FICO Advanced ($29.95 per month) or FICO Premier ($39.95 per month) on MyFICO.com to access your resilience index score. Those who have had their subscription since before March of this year can view their FICO Resilience Index on the “Member Center” dashboard.
Newer subscribers will get their score with their next credit report refresh. The Advanced option updates every three months while the Premier selection updates every month. This refresh can also be manipulated by the subscriber, which is a feature of the subscriptions.