Hyundai Capital offers free credit scores

Hyundai Capital's Fallows:Targeting college grads with thin credit histories.
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Hyundai Capital America has begun rolling out a program to offer customers free access to their FICO credit scores, starting with Hyundai and Kia buyers who get their loans through the brands’ “College Grad” incentive programs.

“We expect college grads to have relatively thin files, which is why we targeted them first,” said Annie Fallows, head of marketing at Hyundai Capital, which steers the operations of Hyundai Motor Finance and Kia Motors Finance, the captive finance companies for Hyundai and Kia brands.

To be eligible, customers have to be within six months of graduating or they must have graduated in the past two years from a two- or four-year college, nursing school, master’s program or doctorate program in the United States.

They need proof of employment within 90 days of purchase, with no adverse credit history such as a bankruptcy, and they must meet some income restrictions, the captive said. The main benefit is a $400 rebate, and the first payment is delayed 90 days.

Hyundai Capital America intends to roll out the credit score offer to all its customers within about a year, Fallows said in a phone interview last week. The company announced the program to dealers late last month. Besides point-of-sale materials, including for dealership F&I departments, the company expects to promote the program via social media and other online channels, Fallows said.

Anthony Sprauve, senior consumer credit specialist for FICO, said Hyundai Capital is FICO’s first auto lender client to make the offer.

In November 2013, FICO extended the so-called FICO Score Open Access Program to all financial service providers that use FICO scores in making credit decisions, so those providers could offer the program to their customers. Some credit card companies already offer the program. Besides Hyundai Capital, FICO is promoting the program to other auto lenders, Sprauve said.

Sprauve: Promoting FICO's Score Open Access Program to other auto lenders.

According to FICO’s consumer site, myfico.com, FICO sells consumers several versions of access to their credit scores. Prices range from a one-time $19.95 each for credit scores from the three major credit bureaus to packages for as much as $14.95 per month, which include credit monitoring.

Financial service providers such as Hyundai Capital already pay FICO for access to credit scores, Sprauve said. There’s no additional charge for lenders or customers to enroll customers in the FICO Score Open Access Program, he said.

“They’re already getting the numbers, getting the scores,” he said. “Now we’ve made it easy for them to share those scores with consumers.”

Andrew DiFeo, dealer principal of Hyundai of St. Augustine (Fla.) likes the idea of targeting grads: “Anything you can do for the first-time buyer or the college grad, from our perspective is great,” he said.

You can reach Jim Henry at autonews@crain.com.

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