Chase’s Credit Journey lets you monitor your VantageScore 3.0 credit score for free, even if you aren’t a Chase customer. Here’s what you need to know about signing up for the service.
The coronavirus crisis has touched nearly every aspect of Americans’ lives, our credit scores included.
Amid an official recession, record unemployment levels and millions of skipped debt payments, FICO and VantageScore – the companies behind the two most widely used credit scores in the U.S. – have introduced new tools or tweaked their models in response to these strange financial times in which we’re living.
Even if you’ve been lucky enough to avoid a job loss or a pay cut during the pandemic so far, checking your credit score is still one of the best ways you can keep track of your financial health.
While you have a number of options for accessing your credit score for free, here’s how to do it with Credit Journey from Chase.
What is Credit Journey?
Chase’s Credit Journey is a credit monitoring service that provides free access to your VantageScore 3.0 credit score. In addition to that all-important three-digit number, Credit Journey offers an analysis of your score and advice on improving it, educational resources, notifications of changes to your score and report, visual representations of how your score tracks over time and much more.
Perhaps most importantly, anyone can sign up for Credit Journey at no cost, even if you don’t have a Chase credit card or other account with the bank. You can use the service as often as you’d like with no impact to your score, which is refreshed once a week.
How does Credit Journey work?
Your VantageScore 3.0 credit score through Credit Journey is based on data from TransUnion, one of the three major credit bureaus. Your VantageScore is different from your FICO score, which is the score most lenders use when evaluating your credit application.
The number you see in your Credit Journey account may not be the same number that, say, a mortgage company sees when it pulls your report. (That said, since June 2015, VantageScore usage has grown by around 20% each year, according to a study by the consulting firm Oliver Wyman.)
If you don’t already have a Credit Journey account, you can enroll via the Chase site by creating a username and password and verifying your identity. Once you’re signed up, you can view your score and most recent TransUnion credit report at any time for free.
Credit Journey is designed to help you understand the six main factors that impact your VantageScore credit score: payment history, age and type of credit, percent of credit used (also known as your credit utilization ratio), total balances, recent credit behavior (such as how many times you’ve applied for credit lately) and available credit. These factors are similar to those that make up your FICO score, though each scoring model weighs each factor a little differently.
The general idea behind Credit Journey and other services like it is that when you have a good grasp of how your financial behaviors influence your credit score, you can take steps to improve your credit standing, which is important for things like getting a job and finding affordable insurance.
Top Credit Journey features
In addition to providing a current snapshot of your credit profile, your Credit Journey homepage displays an easy-to-read graph of your score history, which you can view as either a chart or table. This visual representation can help you identify the specific actions that caused your score to drop or increase at the time.
Other valuable Credit Journey features include:
Credit Journey’s score simulator estimates how certain changes in your credit behavior – such as missing a payment, transferring a balance or closing your oldest account – can help or hurt your credit score.
Credit Journey alerts notify you of important changes or additions to your TransUnion credit report, such as opening a new credit card or becoming delinquent on an account. If you see any errors, Credit Journey also provides guidance in filing a dispute with the credit bureaus.
Chase offers a variety of educational resources to help you learn more about credit, whether you’ve recently gotten your first credit card or you simply want to become more informed. Examples include common credit myths, tips for raising your score and what it means to become a co-signer on someone else’s loan.
Tips for maximizing Credit Journey
To get the most out of Chase Credit Journey, keep the following tips in mind.
- Play around with the score simulator before applying for a new card, skipping next month’s payment or maxing out your available credit. Seeing the estimated numbers in advance could help you avoid tanking your score.
- Opt in to email alerts to watch for potentially fraudulent credit activity in your name. Doing so can help you take action quickly and, hopefully, mitigate the damage.
- Even if you’re not concerned about identity theft, log in to your Credit Journey account regularly to verify the accuracy of your credit history. Legitimate errors happen, but you need to be proactive about fixing them yourself.
While FICO remains the most well-known credit-scoring model, your VantageScore is a big piece of your financial puzzle. And because Credit Journey is free for everyone – whether or not you’re a Chase cardholder – it’s an easy way to stay engaged with your VantageScore on a regular basis, rather than simply taking a look right before you apply for a mortgage or an auto loan.
That said, your credit scores can tell you only so much. If you want a truly holistic view of your financial health, reading (and understanding) your credit report from all three credit bureaus is even more important. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, you can now request free copies of your reports once a week at AnnualCreditReport.com.