Capital One Credit Wise Review: Accurate? [2020]

Keeping up with your credit score and report is crucial given all of the different ways that your credit score can impact your daily life. But it can be a tiring task and many get confused in the the process. Luckily, there’s a few different ways that you can keep tabs on your credit score and report.

One way to do this is to utilize the free service known as Capital One Credit Wise. In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about Credit Wise, including why you may want to NOT use this service. I will also cover other come questions like whether or not it is accurate and what special features it comes with.

What is Capital One Credit Wise?

Capital One Credit Wise is a free online tool you can use to check your credit score and monitor your credit report for changes. The service is provided by Capital One but you don’t have to be a Capital One customer to use it.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

Is Credit Wise accurate? 

Capital One Credit Wise does NOT provide you with a FICO score. Instead, it provides you with a TransUnion Vantage 3.0 score. So Credit Wise is accurate; it’s just that it won’t necessarily give you an accurate idea of where your FICO score stands since it’s a different model. 

Vantage 3.0 score is the same type of credit score provided by Credit Karma and by similar programs like Chase Journey. Vantage calculates their credit scores differently from FICO (though there are a lot of similarities). Sometimes the scores can be the same or similar but in many cases, the credit score differences can be quite extreme.

I know that based on my own personal experience I have seen discrepancies as much as 100 points. This is especially the case if you have been very active with opening new credit cards. Typically, the Vantage Score is much lower in these situations than the FICO score. 

For this reason, you want to use some caution before relying on the Capital One Credit Wise credit score. Remember, most banks out there will use the FICO model. Thus, if you are applying for a credit card you can expect that they are utilizing the FICO model. Below, I’ll show you how you can check your FICO credit score.

Where can I get accurate FICO credit scores?

There are a few ways that you can get a FICO score. Many find it easy to sign-up for and utilize that to get their FICO score (they offer a free 30-day trial membership). If you are just in it for the free score, make sure that you cancel your membership. 

Sometimes MyFICO offers a free trial so be on the lookout for that. You can also get one free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) once every 12 months from

How to log-in and use Credit Wise

If you are already a Capital One customer and you have a login ID then you can go ahead and use that information to login here. Otherwise, you will need to sign-up by providing some basic information such as your contact details and your full Social Security number. You may also have to answer some questions to verify your identity.

Credit Wise features

In addition to viewing your credit score and report, you can also take advantage of some other special features. 

What impacts your score

Whenever you sign in you can go to the homepage and view a lot of different factors that are affecting your credit score. Credit Wise will tell you if your factors are excellent, good, average etc. If you are new to credit scores this can be a nice and simplistic way to see which factors you might need to improve.

The factors that you might see are:

  • On time payments
  • Oldest credit line
  • Credit used (Utilization)
  • Recent inquiries
  • New accounts
  • Available credit

Score improvement

If you click on “Score Improvement” at the bottom of the screen you should be shown some different ways that you could improve your score. These little bits of advice should be ranked in the order of the most impactful factor. But that’s not always the easiest factor to fix it so don’t think that you have to attack that factor first.  

You can get these suggestions even if you have an excellent score since they strive to help you get the perfect credit score. However, keep in mind is that you don’t typically even need a perfect credit score after you get to the 750/760 range.

Your suggestions get updated each week along with your credit score, but they could stay the same if there aren’t any significant changes to your credit report.

Credit report

When you click on the credit report section you will be able to view all of the accounts listed on your TransUnion credit report. This can be a way for you to calculate your Chase 5/24 status or to simply make sure that you have no unrecognizable accounts. 

By clicking on your accounts you can view some of the specific information related to your opening dates, balances, payment history, etc., making it a perfect way to set up your WalletFlo account (the new digital smart wallet).

You can also view your recent inquiries. Just remember that only the inquiries that pulled your TransUnion credit report will show up so it is possible that your other credit bureaus have more inquiries. 


Credit Wise will alert you whenever there is notable activity related to your account or your identity.

One way that they do this is to scan the dark web for activity related to you. According to Capital One:

The dark web is a network of websites that are hidden from search engines and only accessible with special software. Hackers and fraudsters use the dark web to sell stolen personal information on the black market, which could lead to identity theft.

In my case, I received an alert that my email address is associated with dark web activity. In other cases, you might get notifications that your credit card numbers, usernames, and passwords have been found. These dark web scans take place every single day so your information stays up-to-date.

You can also get alerted whenever there is a change of address associated with your Social Security number, since that is often a sign of fraud or identity theft. (The scans take place once a month).  

Other alerts will consist of things like new accounts. Interestingly, although the credit score is taken from your TransUnion report, CreditWise provides credit report alerts from two of the major credit bureaus: Experian and TransUnion. (This is why sometimes you might receive two alerts.)

Capital One Credit Wise score simulator

You can use the score simulator tool to simulate the effect that a certain action will have on your credit score. For example, you could see what type of effect paying off $10,000 worth of debt would have on your score. Other examples include things like increasing the credit limit on a credit card or canceling your oldest credit card.

The results of these simulations are pretty speculative. In some cases, it can provide you with an idea of what kind of change to expect and your credit score. However, you have to remember how complex credit score models actually are. Credit scores are affected by multiple factors which all affect each other and so in many cases it is just too speculative to know for sure how your credit score will be impacted.

Related: Capital One Amazon Offers & Discounts Guide 

Credit Wise vs Credit Karma

If you want to find out more about your credit score then you probably want to go with Credit Karma. For one, while both of these use the same type of Vantage model Credit Karma will also show you your Equifax score and report. Sometimes certain items are only reported to one credit bureau so this can give you a more accurate idea of what your overall credit profile looks like. 

Both of these services have a credit score simulator tool. As already mentioned, these can be useful in certain situations but credit scores are so complex that it is usually impossible to get it right. 

Credit Karma also has some different features that you can use. For example they have a debt repayment calculator that you can use. And they also have a special feature for unclaimed money. But most of all you can dispute your items (but not every error) directly through Credit Karma which makes it a very efficient tool. So overall I would say that Credit Karma is definitely the more equipped tool.

How often will my score be updated?

Your score will be updated on a weekly basis but you can check it as often as possible. Also, checking your credit score will not result in a hard pull so it won’t impact your credit score at all.

Credit Wise vs FICO

The VantageScore model is pretty similar to the FICO model but it has some key differences. It uses the same FICO range of 300 to 850 for the score and stresses many of the same factors as FICO — it just gives them different weight and has some slightly different ways for calculating them.

Here are the 3.0 factors according to Credit Karma:

  • Payment history (about 40%)
  • Age and type of credit (about 21%)
  • Credit utilization (about 20%)
  • Balances (about 11%)
  • Recent credit (about 5%)
  • Available credit (about 3%)

Here are the factors for the FICO model.

  • Payment History (35%)
  • Utilization (30%)
  • Credit History (15%)
  • New Credit (10%)
  • Mixed Credit (10%)

As you can probably tell that there is a good deal of overlap between the two credit models. The biggest differences to me are that Vantage puts more weight on the payment history and also the age of your credit. Therefore, it is possible that if you have negative payment history, that could affect you more for Credit Wise. Likewise, if your account ages are on the lower side of that could count against you more for Vantage. 

On the flip side, new inquiries might count more against your FICO score and if you don’t have a diverse mix of credit that could also count more against you.

One of the key differences between the models is that closed accounts continue to age for FICO models but they don’t for Vantage models. This can result in huge differences in account history for folks like me who have opened and closed quite a few cards over the past few years. For people like myself, we have a very short average age of accounts for Vantage but we have a much more established average age of accounts with FICO.

Another big difference is that the Vantage models will combine related inquiries within a 14 day window. Meanwhile, newer FICO versions count multiple credit inquiries of the same type within a 45-day period as a single inquiry. 

Therefore, if it took you 3 1/2 weeks to find an auto loan and you had multiple inquiries within those weeks, that could have had a bigger impact on your Vantage score versus your FICO score.

So Credit Wise can be a good option to keep an eye on where your credit stands but if you want to have a more accurate idea of your credit score and how it looks in the eyes of most banks then you want to go with FICO. 

Capital One Credit Wise disputes

If you need to dispute an item Credit Wise does give you some directions but they do not have a direct dispute process or tool.  

Capital One Credit Wise App

One convenient way to use the Capital One Credit Wise service is to download the app. The app is free to download and is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

The app has all of the same features as above except they are displayed in mobile form.

How to cancel Credit Wise

  • You can cancel your Credit Wise service by selecting the “Cancel My Account” option on the Settings page
  • Credit Wise customer service number: 1-888-817-2970

Final word

Overall, Capital One Credit Wise can be a useful tool to see where your credit score is but it’s not a FICO score so you don’t want to rely on this score for the majority of lenders since they don’t use the Vantage model. Since it’s free, there’s no harm in using it monitor your credit report but you might want to go with Credit Karma instead, since it has more features. 

Step 1: Getting Your Credit Right

The cornerstone of award travel is your credit score. Without at least a decent credit score, you’re going to get hit with denials on your credit card applications left and right and it’s going to be an uphill battle just to get approved for some of the most basic travel rewards cards. Thus, if you want to get into award travel, your first priority is making sure that you have decent credit.

Why is your credit score important? 

While being able to be approved for some of the most valuable credit cards is certainly a major plus of having a good credit score, there are far more important reasons for maintaining a solid credit score.

Having a poor score can costs you thousands of dollars in interest for loans and insurance, hinder your employment prospects, make it more difficult to open utilities, cell phones, etc., and ultimately keep you held down.

I highly suggest you read my article on how your credit score can affect your daily life to begin to instill the importance of having a good credit score.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

What exactly is your credit score? 

If you’re not very familiar with credit scores, I suggest you read my article: Beginner’s Guide to Credit Scores and Reports.

In that article, you’ll learn about the basics regarding your credit score and also find a lot of other links that provide insight into common questions about credit scores. For your reference, those links along with a few other helpful inks are listed here: 

If you take the time to read and understand all of the links above, you’ll have a pretty in-depth understanding of the basics of how your credit score is determined and how getting new credit cards factors into the equation. 

Checking your credit score

There are a few ways that you can check your credit score for free or for a small fee. The most readily used credit scores are FICO scores, so those tend to be the most important to find out first.

There are a few ways to get your FICO credit scores…

  • offers you a $1 seven day trial where you can view your FICO Experian score. If you just want to quickly view one of your FICO scores for cheap, then I highly recommend this website. (Just know that you’ll need to call in to cancel and sometimes the reps can be annoying with their persistent retention offers.) You can re-enroll in this $1 seven day trial each week and get an update every 7 days.

Now-a-days banks and credit card companies are offering free FICO scores so if you have an account with any of the following be sure to see if you’re eligible for a free FICO score.

  • American Express (Experian)
  • Barcalys (Trans Union)
  • Capital One
  • Citi (Experian)
  • Discover (Trans Union).

You can also get what’s dubbed a “FAKO” score, which is often close to being accurate to your FICO scores (though sometimes they can be off by quite a large margin).

There are several ways to get your FAKO scores:

  • Credit Karma provides you with both your Transunion and Equifax score
  • will provide you with your Experian
  • Credit Sesame will provide you with Trans Union
  • Quizzle will provide you with Equifax or Trans Union

Personally, I really like Credit Karma. It gives me weekly updates and has a nice mobile app that makes checking your credit score a breeze. Credit Karma also provides you with a full report and the means for disputing errors on your report.

I’ve personally had errors and updates made to my credit report going through Credit Karma and it’s been great. Finally, while your experience may differ, my FAKO score on Credit Karma has always been identical or nearly identical to my FICO scores (though that won’t always be the case). 

What credit score do you need for award travel?

I personally think you should wait until you break the 700s before pursuing some of the premier travel rewards cards but it’s not all always solely about the credit score. For example, if you’ve got a “perfect” score of 720 but practically no credit history, you may get hit with denials for certain cards.  

Below is a highly generalized (and relatively conservative) guide for credit scores needed to get into award travel. Please note, these are by no means strict thresholds for approvals but a quick read of them should help you find out where about you fall in the credit score spectrum. 

If you want to take a look at some resources to research what kind of credit score got approved for different cards check out the following resources: 

You also read my article on Chase Sapphire Preferred approval odds.

Again, keep in mind that there is a lot more than a mere score that goes into many credit card approvals so just because your odds appear to be bad or great, you will not know the outcome of your application until after you apply. 

680 and below

If you’re at 680 or below, your best bet may be to seek out secured credit cards to build your score or to wait for your score to raise as you make more on time payments and lengthen your credit history.

You can look into cards like the Discover IT secured, Capital One® Secured MasterCard®, etc. and if you have trouble getting approved for those (very possible if you’re stuck in the mid to low 500s), then contact your local bank or credit union for further options, as they often have secured credit cards which are easier to get approved for. Here’s an article on some of the best secured credit cards out there right now.  

Another option to consider is going for store cards or trade lines. These are cards offered at places like Wal-Mart, Macy’s, etc. Sometimes you can even get these cards without incurring a hard pull with the Shopping Cart trick

If you’re close to 680, sometimes you can get lucky and snag a card like the Chase Freedom® Card‎ but most of the time you’re going to struggle to get approved for those cards, so it’s generally better to be patient and wait for your score to get closer to 700.

680 to 720 — You Might Ready for award travel 

Once you get into the 680 to 720 range, you might be ready to start applying for some rewards cards, just proceed with a bit of caution. The closer to 680 you are, the more established credit history you’re going to need to be approved for cards. If you’re more the conservative type, then you might want to wait until you at least break the 700s to start applying. 

The cards you’d be considering at this level are those like the Chase Freedom® Card and The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card to get you started. As you get closer to 720 you can definitely take a chance on some of the better cards, especially if you have some payment history established with the bank you’re going to apply with or other lines of established credit.


As long as you have a little bit of credit history (3-5 years ideally) and are above (or close to) 720 you have a good shot as some of the great cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card, Citi Thankyou cards, and American Express charge cards. Once you hit this mark, you should feel good when applying for the vast majority of travel rewards cards.

Occasionally a bank will ding you for certain reasons (e.g., too many new accounts, reached credit limit, limited credit history, low income, random obscure reason, etc.), but I’ve got something like a 98% success rate on credit card applications with a score above 720. The higher up in the 700s you go, the better your odds get (you might eventually hit a point of diminishing returns near 800), but from my experience anything in the range of 720+ seems to get the job done.   

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

Improving your credit score

I’ll eventually get around to writing in-depth articles on ways to improve your credit score but here’s some basic information that can help you if you’re just starting out.

How is your credit score determined?

The first thing you need to know is how your credit score is determined. Your credit score is determined by the following factors.

  • Payment History (35%)
  • Utilization (30%)
  • Credit History (15%)
  • New Credit (10%)
  • Mixed Credit (10%)

The two biggest factors are your payment history and your utilization (credit-to-debt ratio). They amount to 65% of your score so it makes sense to attack these things first.

Pay off that credit card debt!

The first thing you need to do is try to pay off all of your credit cards or revolving credit lines. Do whatever you can possibly do to pay down your credit cards ASAP. If you’ve got high utilization you really need to put some effort into reducing it because credit card companies are going to see you as a credit risk and your score is going to suffer.

In a perfect world, you’d rely on your income to quickly pay off your cards and get your utilization as close to 0% as possible. However, in  some circumstances it’s just very difficult. One solution you can always consider is opening up an installment loan.

Even if you have suspect credit, if you have a good relationship with a bank or credit union, you might be able to pull out a personal installment loan that you can use to pay off or pay down your credit card debt. Since the loan is in installment form, that means it won’t affect your utilization. Also, if you already have a personal loan with revolving debt, inquire with the bank about converting that to an installment loan. My friend lowered her revolving debt by $6,000 overnight be employing this trick and it catapulted her credit score into the 700s.

Do your research on negative marks on your report

If you have any late payments or derogatory marks you’ll now need to research how to get those removed off your credit score. Try not to get too discouraged if you’re facing a lot of late payments. When I first started, I’d slipped up big time and got hit with 6 late payments, bringing my score down to the 500s! A lot of sources said I didn’t have any hope for getting all six of these late payments removed but I got all six of these payments removed and my credit score ended up touching the 800s! So don’t give up! 

Consider the secured credit card route

If you’re not able to pay down your credit cards in a reasonable amount of time and have some negative marks on your report, then consider opening up a secure credit card. Basically, you deposit money to a bank and they open you up a credit line for that amount. You use this account to make timely payments over time and eventually your score will go up! It might take some time, but I know of several people who have had pretty good success going the secured credit card route.

Just take your time, do your research, and just don’t give up!

Make sure you are mentally prepared…

You need to possess the discipline to make financially responsible decisions with your credit cards to be successful in award travel. The first time I got approved for a huge credit line it was a bit of a shock to go from having a couple of thousand dollars at my disposal to all of a sudden having access to over $20,000! For some people, being granted instant access to $20,000+ in a matter of seconds can open up room for them to make poor decisions.

The whole point of award travel is to travel at a fraction of the cost that it would require otherwise. If you run up your credit card balances and end up paying large amounts of interest every month you’re going to cut into your savings and be defeating the purpose of travel hacking in the first place.

I really think that if you want to get the most out of award travel you need to be in a place where finances are not a constant worry. Whether that be worrying about steady income, mounting medical bills, spending habits, whatever. You should feel confident in your ability to apply budgeting to your spending habits even if you’ve got the ability to buy just about anything you want or think you’ll need.

I’m not saying you have to be wealthy — I think even “broke” college students can get into award travel. I’m just saying it’s a good idea to be honest with yourself before it’s too late. For example, If I had found out about this hobby 10 years ago, I’d probably still be paying off credit cards because I just wasn’t mature enough to make good financial decisions. Now, I’ve made enough financial blunders to learn my lessons and it’s a totally different story.

So once you get your credit score in order or at least come up with a plan to get it right and do a bit of self-evaluation to make sure you’re ready for this hobby, it’s time to get informed!