The company that does business as Hyundai Motor Finance and Kia Motors Finance is the first captive finance company to offer auto loan account holders access to their FICO Score

That All-Important Credit Score

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Consumers, especially those with tarnished credit, should know at least one of their credit scores, despite the fact that credit scores are typically different at each credit reporting agency (CRA). Borrowers should also be familiar with the information contained in each of their credit reports.

The first part is easy. Federal law states that the three largest CRAs must furnish each consumer with a free credit report every twelve months if the consumer requests it. But it's different for credit scores as individuals typically have to pay in order to find out about the most important three-digit number in their lives.

But that is slowly changing. A number of independent financial sites – such as Credit Karma – as well as more and more lenders, are furnishing credit scores to account holders at no charge.

On February 23rd, Hyundai Capital America (HCA), a captive auto-finance company that does business as "Hyundai Motor Finance (HMF)" and "Kia Motors Finance (KMF)," announced that it would begin providing free FICO Scores to all of its customers as part of the FICO Score Open Access program. Previously, the program was available only to participants in the company's College Grad program.

It's should also be noted that both Hyundai and Kia build some of the most affordable vehicles available today – certainly an important fact for credit-challenged buyers to keep in mind.

Enhanced HCA free FICO Score program

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According to HCA, customers of Hyundai Motor Finance and Kia Motors Finance can opt-in to the program through the HMF and KMF web and mobile sites. Once enrolled, participants are able to view their free FICO Score when they log into their accounts (the company's "Go Paperless" efforts mean the scores can only be viewed online).

FICO Scores will be updated every quarter. In addition, participants will be able to access their free FICO Score for one year after their retail finance or lease contract is paid off.

The Bottom Line

It's absolutely critical that borrowers, especially those with tarnished credit, understand the information contained in their credit reports and know at least one of their credit scores. So, while one credit report from each CRA per year is free, it's also reassuring to know that lenders such as Hyundai Motor Finance and Kia Motors Finance are beginning to furnish the all-important FICO score to their customers at no charge.