Large consumer banks are often known for "nickel and dime" fees on personal accounts, especially checking. So it's a pleasant surprise when Wells Fargo, which recently added a $7 monthly fee on customers' checking accounts in six Western states, offered Minnesotans a free credit report and credit score.

Okay, the free credit report is no big deal because we're entitled to a new one annually anyway at Annual Credit Report.  The real perk here is the free credit score, which is not included as a freebie in Annual Credit Report. It normally costs $12 to $20.

To take advantage of this offer, you have to go to Wells branch and pick up a brochure with an access code in it. Then  go to the Wells Fargo site, plug in the access code and a bunch of personal info such as SSN and birthdate, and you'll get the report and the score. I was never asked for a Wells Fargo account number at the bank or online. That makes me wonder if this offer is open to anyone, not just WF customers. The promotional materials say, however, that the offer is open only to Wells Fargo customers.


If you aren't sure how to interpret your credit score, here's a helpful explanation. A credit score above 700 is more important than ever. Insurance companies, mortgage lenders, housing rental agencies, and potential employers now use credit scores routinely.The score in this offer is from Experian VantageScore, which range from 300 to 850.


The offer is good through April 15 in select areas, including Minnesota.