Home > Credit Score > The Newest FICO Score Isn’t a Credit Score

Comments 0 Comments

By now, you probably (understandably) associate FICO with your credit history, so it may surprise you to hear the company is launching a new score that rates something else entirely: your driving habits.

You can breathe a sigh of relief though – unlike your credit scores, which are based on information on your credit reports that lenders can automatically provide to the credit bureaus once you get a loan, FICO’s driving score will only monitor your driving habits if you or the business you are working for opt to use its latest analytics.

How the Score Works

FICO is partnering with the online driving training company eDriving to capture acceleration, braking, cornering, speeding, cellphone distraction and other behavioral data on users via a program that gets downloaded onto smartphones.

“It turns your phone into a black box,” said eDriving spokeswoman Regina Lewis during a phone interview.

The program is designed to give people a way to improve their driving scores through feedback and coaching, said FICO spokeswoman Rachel Bell. Once you download the program, called Mentor, your score will be available after each trip in order to provide immediate feedback, and to build weekly and monthly scores. This feedback will indicate areas of driving that need improvement and will provide tutoring to help each driver improve their score based on his or her risk profile, according to Celia Stokes, CEO of eDriving.

“It’s more like a full Weight Watchers program than just a scale,” said Stokes. “We’re not going to be teaching new things, like it’s bad to tailgate or be on the phone while driving. Drivers already know those things. But 80% of people still use the phone while driving because they’re addicted to the behavior.”

Mentor gets smarter over time, and will keep acquiring data points to become a legitimate source for insurance companies, Lewis said. The hope is that business fleets and consumers will eventually be able to show their stellar scores to the companies for significantly lower rates.

“If you’re a good driver, you’ll be able to prove it,” said Lewis.

The program will be available for business fleets sometime within the next 90 days and to consumers sometime within the first quarter of 2017, said Lewis. Businesses will be able to monitor whether their drivers are driving safely, she said, and parents will eventually be able to track and coach their teen’s driving habits. The goal is for the score to become an industry standard, said Bell.

Users can choose whether to share the score and information with their insurance companies.

What Will Be Most Damaging to the Score?

In the same way that your credit score gets dinged by bad financial behavior such as late bill payments and high debt, your driving score will get dinged by bad driving habits that could lead to an accident. (If you’re curious about where your traditional credit stands, you can check two of your scores, updated every 30 days on Credit.com for free.)

The things that will ding your score the hardest will be your cellphone use while driving (including whether you touch your phone, text, Snapchat, or even use Bluetooth.) Speeding, hard-braking, whether you take hairpin turns, and have a heavy foot on the gas pedal will also be hard on your score.


The program will also provide a “gamification or shamification” rating, said Stokes, showing how you compare to other drivers in your company, family or neighborhood.

“It’s one thing to say, well everyone texts sometime. It’s another thing to know that you’re in the bottom 10% of your company, neighborhood or family,” said Stokes.

Interestingly, “engagement,” or whether you check your score and allow yourself to be coached by program’s feedback will also be tracked and used in your assessment, said Stokes.

You’ll be able to improve your score with each trip. The context of where you’re driving and ZIP code comparisons will all come into play, said Stokes. FICO will determine how much each factor is weighted, and Bell said the company has been working with eDriving and researching each bad factor’s effect on driving “for years.” Companies will also be able to tether scores to an employee’s past driving record for drivers who sign off on the monitoring.

“We can actually refine the score based on the likelihood that someone will get into an accident or have an infraction on their license,” said Stokes. “The point of all of this is to reduce the likelihood that someone gets into a collision.”

Companies have already expressed interest in using the score.

“We’re building an advisory board and we’ve had tremendous interest from insurance companies and companies with large global fleets,” Stokes said.

Consumers, however, may be a harder get: According to a January 2016 survey by the Pew Research Center, 45% of respondents said they would find it unacceptable to agree to let an insurance company put a device in their car to monitor their driving habits in exchange for discounts.

For those who think this might just be too much Big Brother activity, Bell said, “the goal of the score is to help the driver because it gives immediate feedback on your driving behavior to ultimately benefit you. Safer drivers have less wear and tear on their cars, and are less likely to be in an incident. And ultimately, a safer driver will have lower insurance rates.”

Image: monkeybusinessimages

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team