Capital One was the first large bank to make free credit scores available to everyone through CreditWise – regardless of whether you’re a cardholder or not. Here’s how it works.
Good credit opens doors to spending, investments and benefits. Bad credit closes them. What is important for every cardholder – or prospective cardholder – to know is that your credit score impacts more than just your wallet.
Luckily, keeping track of your credit score is easy, if you have the right credit card.
Many credit card issuers offer free credit scores to their customers, but Capital One was the first large bank to make free credit scores available to everyone through CreditWise – regardless of whether you’re a cardholder or not.
See related: Credit cards that offer free credit scores
What is CreditWise?
CreditWise is Capital One’s credit-monitoring tool, that enables users to understand and keep track of their credit score – a three-digit number that is calculated from past credit behavior. CreditWise explains how your score is calculated, monitors changes in your score and credit report and allows you to simulate big credit moves so you can plan your credit strategy accordingly.
CreditWise is also 100% free – for everyone. To take advantage of its benefits, simply sign up on the website or by downloading the mobile app. Within minutes, you can see your score and start planning your credit moves.
Unlike many free credit-monitoring tools that limit users to one score check per month, CreditWise offers updates on your credit score every week. If you are actively working to improve and build your credit, weekly updates are particularly useful to help you stay on track to achieve your credit goals.
How does CreditWise work?
CreditWise gets its credit information and data from TransUnion – one of the three national credit bureaus. It monitors your TransUnion credit report for any recent credit inquiries, delinquent accounts and other major credit changes and will automatically alert you via email if it any events are detected.
It is important to note that your CreditWise score is not the same as your FICO credit score – but it’s still beneficial. The biggest difference between your FICO score and ‘educational scores’ – like the score reported by CreditWise – is the credit model they use.
FICO uses its own credit scoring model, of which there are several versions, while CreditWise uses the TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 model. Additionally, CreditWise just uses data from TransUnion – not Experian or Equifax – to calculate your score.
Monitoring your credit with tools like CreditWise is part of a positive credit strategy – and it won’t hurt your credit score. Checking your own credit information with CreditWise is what is referred to as a soft inquiry, whereas a lender’s request for your credit history after you submit a credit application is known as a hard inquiry.
See related: Hard inquiries vs. soft inquiries
Top CreditWise features
Credit score monitoring
Get an updated VantageScore based on TransUnion data every week, to stay up to date with your credit health.
You can view a detailed breakdown that includes how your three-digit score is calculated, what it means and how you compare to the American average. CreditWise also offers tips and advice for how to increase your score.
Few free credit-monitoring simulators are as robust and customizable as the CreditWise simulator. Choose from 17 credit-influencing events to create a custom scenario – assessing how your credit score would react if you closed a card, paid your balance late, made a large purchase or all three at once.
In the event of major changes to your credit report, you will receive an email notification with details about the activity. Additionally, CreditWise uses three features to help monitor potential credit fraud and identity theft:
- Social Security number tracking – Receive an alert every time your Social Security number is used in combination with a new name or address.
- Dark web surveillance – The dark web is where personal information is bought and sold illegally. CreditWise scans the dark web and illegal marketplaces and will notify you if your email address or Social Security number is found.
- Dual credit bureau alerts – Lenders do not always report credit applications to each credit bureau, so fraudulent applications may be missed if you are only keeping up with one bureau’s reports. CreditWise monitors both your Experian and TransUnion credit reports and will alert you in the event of a meaningful change on either.
Credit score history
CreditWise maps your score’s history as a line graph to help visualize how your score has changed over time. Use this tool to identify past events that have had positive or negative impacts on your score.
Tips for maximizing CreditWise
With CreditWise, eliminating bad credit habits and building good credit is just a few clicks away. Here are some tips for how to make CreditWise work hard for you and your credit:
- Refresh your score often – Taking advantage of the weekly score refresh will help you monitor your progress as you work to build credit and make any unexpected changes more noticeable.
- Simulate credit action – Before committing to a big credit move, use the CreditWise simulator to see how it will affect your score. Using the simulator to develop a credit strategy can help you improve your credit health long-term.
- Enable notifications – Make sure email and app push notifications are enabled on your device so you see fraud or activity alerts right away and can take the appropriate action.
When it comes to your credit, knowledge is power. Using CreditWise to regularly monitor and plan your credit activity will empower you to direct your finances and reap the benefits of good credit.