Sears Solution MasterCard Gives Free Credit Scores, But Has Annual Fee

The Wallet blog has a cool tip about a credit card that give free TransUnion FICO credit scores. Sweet! Closer inspection reveals it’s not such a good deal, unless you have stellar credit history.

Once you’re signed up you’ll be able to get your credit score by going to the “”FICO® Credit Score Viewer” pane on your online account.

Caveats:
1. Annual fees are $0, $19 or $59, depending on your credit history.
2. You can only apply inside a Sears store, not online.
3. Sears is a depressing place and having to go in one will make you sad.

So, if you’re a credit ninja and can get this without annual fee and want your credit score for free and have some extra time to go to some sad store, this could be a cool card to have for checking your credit score for free.

UPDATE: A former Sears associate sends in more details.

1. Customers w/stellar credit histories won’t even get that card in 1st place.
2.”Sears Solutions,” handled by HSBC, is for customers rebuilding their credit histories.
3. BOTH CARDS HAVE THE FICO SCORE BENEFIT. One applies for the regular card, handled by Citi. If Citi declines to offer credit, HSBC takes an immediate second look. Supposedly, this doesn’t ding your credit score more than once.
4. Regarding the annual fee, that program’s been in place for over 2 years. The reason why there’s a $0 annual fee on the “Solutions” card is because that’s for customers that just barely missed Citi’s score requirements for opening a regular account.

Why You Might Actually Want a Retail Credit Card [The Wallet]
Sears-Kmart MasterCard Perk: Free* FICO Score Each Month [CreditMattersBlog]

Comments

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  1. pb5000 says:

    Point number 3 is so dead on.

    • Kuchen says:

      The Sears by where I used to live was always 80+ degrees inside, even in the winter. Just walking into the store was stifling.

  2. Mock says:

    Annual Fees dependent on credit history? That’s a new one.

    • West Coast Secessionist says:

      No, it’s new. I saw cards like that 5 years ago, usually the line in the application says something like:

      “No annual fee*

      *If you do not qualify for the BigBank Platinum Mastercard, you will automatically be considered for the BigBank Premier Mastercard with an annual fee of $75 and an interest rate of 18.9% variable.”

  3. misterfuss says:

    The Wallet blog post appears to be from November 2008. Since it has been out for over a year, has anyone actually used this service?

  4. costcolio says:

    Sure, you will get the free scores for a few months then surprise, there gone!

  5. lucky929 says:

    Ugh. There’s a Sears in my mall, and being inside it makes me physically uncomfortable for reasons I can’t place. Depressing might be it.

  6. misterfuss says:

    And by the way, my credit union offers free quarterly credit scores to its members. They aren’t FICO scores but “Advanced Risk Score 2.0 (NextGen) provided by Experian.” If you don’t want to see your free score, then you can opt out.

    http://www.alliantcreditunion.org/

    • gameraboy says:

      Yeah, another great service with Alliant. I love their check deposit by scanner too. No iPhone app like USAA, but deposit by scanner is good enough for me.

  7. CTAUGUST says:

    Unless I was certain I would not have an annual fee, why would I want something like this. The Sears and Kmart stores in my area are quite run down compared to competitors and are seldom shopped. Also, with a discount code, you can get your FICO score from myfico.com for as little as $10 these days. Kmart and Sears have made dozens of missteps since merging, this looks to be another. Who is running that place?

  8. wickedpixel says:

    even with the $19 annual fee it might be worthwhile if you want to check your credit score regularly, since that’s usually around $15 a pop.

  9. lawnmowerdeth says:

    If you’re shopping for tools, that section isn’t depressing. (But I grew up with many years of dad swearing by Craftsman tools)

  10. d says:

    Sears and KMart – two brands that are all but dead, having been beaten to a bloody death over many decades by poor managers. It all started at Sears when they got rid of the Big Book catalog and didn’t move online… With KMart – it started with the first half-baked orange-haired screaming cashier in flip flops…

    Sears: Reselling used DieHard batteries, going after bankrupt people for money after they’d filed bankruptcy, not doing repairs, not delivering what they promised, not honoring warranties…

    KMart: That damed blue light that attracted lemmings from everywhere, crappy food, not enough cashiers, stoned cashiers, too many fired cops as store LPS, poorly maintained stores, unintelligible overhead announcements, chronic cases of “out of stock” on items which were advertised, inane procedures to get overcharges reversed, and on and on and on….

    I avoid both stores like the plague… Anything they offer or claim to offer has a hidden flaw… you’ll get bit by it soon enough if you go near it… stay away… far away…

  11. elenamb says:

    Just to let you fine ladies and gents know (from a Sears employee)…

    the Sears Solutions Mastercard is offered to people who are building credit (little credit, crappy credit etc). The Sears Solutions Mastercard, Sears Platinum Mastercard, and the regular Sears card now all offer free credit score checking. The Solutions card has an annual fee because of the customer it is targeted to. The other cards have no annual fee but also have the same service.

    inb4 “shill, etc etc”

    not trying to say the sears cards are a good or bad idea, just wanted to let people know that an annual fee isn’t always required for the credit check service

  12. H3ion says:

    The article is over a year old. As for Sears, I like their tools and their appliance department is pretty decent if you know what you’re looking for and are no dependent on the sales staff knowing the difference between a stove and a washing machine. That is, their prices are competitive and we’ve had pleasant experience with their warranty repairs.

    Why you would need a credit card in order to obtain your FICO score (which will take a hit when you apply for this card)?

  13. notovny says:

    You can’t go into a Sears and apply directly for a Sears Solutions Mastercard. You have to apply for a regular Sears Mastercard (Citibank), and have bad enough credit to get rejected. If your credit is too bad to get the regular Sears Mastercard, but not so bad that HSBC doesn’t want you, only then will you be offered the Sears Solutions Mastercard.

    I suppose if you absolutely demanded it and requested 1-800 numbers, you could get one that way. But there’s no option in the Sears Cash Registers to let you apply for the Sears Solutions Cards directly.

  14. boricuachick says:

    My Providian credit card (no annual fee) came with the free monthly credit score but when Chase took over Washington Mutual, I lost the perk. Now I just go to Credit Karma for my FREE credit score. It is free. And I do not get any spam from them.

  15. henrygates3 says:

    My old Providian card did this. Then they stopped. Then they became WaMu. Then they canceled my account because I hadn’t used it in 5 years. Oh well.

  16. GreatGerm says:

    This is also available with the standard Citi versions of the cards too. Not sure why the HSBC ones are being singled out.

  17. StanTheManDean says:

    Sears is a depressing place and having to go in one will make you sad

    Really?

    I thought Sears was pretty darn cool. Of course the hot teen babes working the registers is great for attracting dirty old men like myself.

  18. misterfuss says:

    Yup. and a lot of different organizations qualify to join including if you are a member of a PTA or if you just live in the Chicagoland area.

    http://www.alliantcreditunion.org/membership/eligibility/
    http://www.alliantcreditunion.org/membership/eligibility/organizations/

    Also, I love their interest checking. (and no, I don’t work for them.)

  19. Bargaineering.com says:

    CreditKarma gives TransUnion credit scores for free.