March 21, 2016
Earlier this month, Capital One became the first U.S. bank to offer free credit monitoring through a mobile app called CreditWise. The Virginia-based company launched the free app after the success of CreditTracker, a free credit tracking tool rolled out in 2014 exclusively for Capital One customers. The company decided it was time to make the tool available for a much wider audience.
CreditWise is available through the Apple store and the Capital One website. It gives consumers access to weekly credit score updates from TransUnion, which is one of three credit monitoring companies in the United States. The mobile app leverages people’s tendency to constantly check their smartphones. (Here’s the demo video.)
Greater access to credit scores should boost the financial awareness of consumers, especially the digitally-savvy younger crowd. More than a quarter of Americans seem to be in the dark when it comes to their personal finances. A 2015 survey revealed that 26 percent of Americans say they have never checked their credit report—not even once. And 40 percent of millennials have never checked their credit report because they had no idea where to obtain it.
“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,” says Sarah Strauss, Managing Vice President of U.S. Card at Capital One.
Credit scores have a major impact on consumers, determining what loan interest rates they qualify for, their credit limits, and their ability to buy homes, cars, and almost any major purchase that requires them to make payments rather than purchase with cash. Since more than half of Americans say they regularly worry about their debt, staying informed on credit reports is key in creating awareness about one’s financial health.
Thanks to a 2003 amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, all Americans are entitled to a free annual update on their credit report from three major credit reporting agencies, including Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Capital One uses the VantageScore 3.0 from TransUnion scoring model to determine users’ credit scores on the CreditWise app.
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