While knowing your credit score is an essential component of any financial plan, this number isn’t readily available. The truth is, it can be difficult to find out your personal credit score – unless, of course, you’re willing to pay for it. While certain credit cards offer a free FICO score on each monthly statement, nearly everyone else needs to pay a service to get access to their credit score – or simply go without.
One credit card issuer, Capital One, has decided to end the trend of costly credit scores once and for all. And, better yet, this is true whether you carry one of their credit cards or not.
Their new credit score tool, called CreditWise, replaces Capital One Credit Tracker – their initial foray into the credit-tracking space. The reason for the upgrade, notes Capital One, is the company’s drive to make it easier for everyone to monitor their credit, and not just cardholders.
“We first launched Credit Tracker in 2014 to help offer guidance to our U.S. credit card customers. It was an incredibly popular and helpful tool for our cardholders, and we decided to expand the experience with CreditWise to enable everyone to have a convenient and transparent way to monitor their score for free,” said Sarah Strauss, managing vice president at Capital One .
“CreditWise gives users so much more than just a score – it helps them understand what makes up their score, what makes it go up, what makes it go down, and focuses on actions they can take to improve it. With CreditWise, we have our customers’ backs when it comes to their credit health.”
Since the inception of Credit Tracker, Capital One says they’ve learned a lot more about what consumers actually need from a credit-tracking tool. Further, they realized this service is sorely needed since many Americans are out of touch with their scores. As a recent Capital One Survey notes, less than a third of Americans (31%) know their credit score and 37% haven’t checked their score in more than a year.
To simplify the process for consumers, Capital One bundled the bulk of consumer wants into their new online credit tool, CreditWise. Here are some of the main features of CreditWise – all of which anyone can get for free:
- Unlimited access to your TransUnion credit information, with with no negative impact on your score.
- Continuous updates of your credit score.
- A notification when your credit score changes – good or bad.
- Credit simulator that helps you predict the impact certain financial moves might have on your credit.
- An explanation of how your credit score is determined, along with key influencing factors.
- A full list of both open and closed lines of credit, organized by account type.
- Balance details on both open and closed credit accounts.
Should You Take Advantage of Capital One’s CreditWise?
If you aren’t monitoring your credit score yet, CreditWise offers the perfect opportunity to get started. Not only is the service free, but it’s easy to use and chock full of information the average consumer could benefit from.
The credit simulator in particular can help eliminate a lot of the guesswork – especially for those who are actively trying to improve their credit. After sharing some financial details, site users can play around with the simulator to find out how certain financial moves – like buying a house, applying for a car loan, or paying down debt – might impact their credit score in the short term and long term. You can also use the simulator to see how your credit score might change if you pay your bill late or let an account fall into default.
And while CreditWise doesn’t offer an actual FICO score (they offer the VantageScore 3.0 score, which is calculated and scored in a similar way), you can still benefit from an estimate of your FICO score. Even with an estimated score, you can watch your credit movements and take note of how each decision you make affects it.
- Related: Comparing Your Many Credit Scores
If you ever want to purchase a home, finance a car, or borrow money to start a business, having good credit is essential. By keeping an eye on your credit score or an estimate of your score, you’ll be in the best position to improve your credit over time.
The Bottom Line
While some card issuers offer a free FICO score or an estimate of your credit score on your monthly statement, they require you to sign up for their credit cards to receive this benefit. With Capital One CreditWise, on the other hand, you can get a free estimate of your credit score regardless of whether you carry a Capital One credit card or not.
Since credit is an important component of anyone’s financial health, this is a huge boon for consumers. If you don’t have access to your credit score otherwise, consider signing up for Capital One’s to start keeping better tabs on your credit.
Do you use any service to track your credit? How has having good or bad credit impacted your life?