FICO credit scores are getting an overhaul, which may make it easier for shakier borrowers to access credit.
On Monday, FICO, a leading credit-scoring company, along with Experian and Finicity, announced plans for a new system that considers how prospective borrowers manage their cash. That change could result in scores for some going even higher.
The pilot program, called UltraFICO score, is designed to give people with dings on their credit histories a chance to have their banking activity considered as well, including how long accounts have been open and evidence of saving.
At the same time, credit card interest rates have never been higher, setting the stage for potential problems for some consumers.
The average credit card interest rate is currently 17.01 percent, according to CreditCards.com's latest report. That's up from 16.15 percent one year earlier and 15.22 percent two years ago.
A separate report by CompareCards recently reviewed credit cards from 50 of the nation's largest retailers and found the average store card APR is now nearly 25 percent and can be as high as 30 percent.
And despite the dangers of high-interest loans, the number of credit-card accounts in the U.S. is rising quickly.
About 75 percent of Americans now have at least one credit card. Even with APRs well over 20 percent, 3 out of 4 Americans have also had a store credit card and 1 in 3 Americans has at least two. However, nearly half of Americans who have had a store card said they regret getting one, CompareCards found.
Often store cards seem attractive because of benefits like a discount on your first purchase and "special financing," which give cardholders an interest-free introductory period — often 0 percent for anywhere from six to 24 months.
Yet nearly all of those offers come with a catch called deferred interest. If the balance is not paid full by the end of the period, then you're charged with all of the interest that would have accrued on the purchase dating back to the original purchase date – at the exorbitant APR.