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An insider’s guide to travel and credit scores, and why it should matter to you.
Did you know that 57% percent of Canadians have never attempted to obtain their credit score? Well, you can place me right into that statistic. I’ve never tried to look up my credit score, and I didn’t really understand what it all meant. I know that it’s important to have a good credit score, otherwise you might not be approved for those important things in life: bank loans, mortgages, and even renting an apartment.
Let’s take this a step further to delve into one of my key interests…travel! Travel and credit scores are closely related. Have you ever read articles about travel hacking with credit cards? You can rack up points with a variety of credit cards using your everyday purchases towards free travel. Traveling for free is the dream. However, if your credit score is poor, you might not be approved to own one of those points cards.
But, how do we know if we have good credit? How do we protect and improve our credit scores?
CAPITAL ONE AND CREDIT KEEPER
As some of you may know, I’m a Capital One customer. I’ve had the Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite Mastercard for close to three years. That’s why I’m happy that Capital One recently became the first bank in Canada to offer a free credit tracking service to its customers with the introduction of Credit Keeper. For all you Capital One credit card holders, you’ll soon be able to easily access the Credit Keeper tool from your online account, if you haven’t already. You can track it anytime from your computer, tablet, or mobile device. It’s fast and secure, and your credit score won’t be affected no matter how many times you check it. Furthermore, this service is completely free to use.
Credit Keeper provides you with access to your TransUnion credit score and it updates weekly. From week to week, you’ll be able to track your progress.
Over the coming months, I’m going to take you on a personal journey of tracking my own credit score with Credit Keeper and I’ll show you how that impacts my daily life and my travels.
WHAT ARE CREDIT SCORES?
Did you know that 80% of Canadians have a major credit card, yet 69% don’t know their credit score? As I mentioned, I am a Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite Mastercard holder. I applied for that credit card, and I was approved. However, I didn’t know why I was approved. I always figured that my credit was in good standing, but I didn’t know where I fit on that sliding scale.
A credit score is a number between 300 and 900. It’s based on information from your credit report. This includes details like your payment history, the amount of credit that you have available, how many accounts you have, the age of the accounts, and your recent credit activity. Financial institutions look at this information and decide whether or not they want to offer you credit.
The higher the number, the better. Although lenders may look into other factors to decide whether you are responsible with credit, being aware of your credit score is an important step towards excellent financial well-being. Keep in mind that there are different credit scores available on the market, depending on which provider you get it from.
WHY ARE CREDIT SCORES IMPORTANT?
In daily life, credit scores play an important role. If I had a poor credit score, it would be more difficult to be approved to rent my apartment. It would be more difficult to secure a bank loan for a car or a mortgage for a home. Having a strong credit score helps us achieve many vital milestones in our lives.
Travel and credit scores are linked together. What if you weren’t approved for a credit card? I couldn’t imagine traveling without a credit card. Let’s take a look at my recent trip to Huntsville, Alabama and Washington, DC. I used my credit card to make purchases while I was there. However, we often take owning and using a credit card for granted. Here are all the ways that I used my credit card while traveling:
- Booking and paying for my flights
- Booking and paying for my hotels
- Using Uber to get around town (car-sharing rides are charged directly to your credit card)
- My travel insurance is covered by my Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite Mastercard
- My luggage was lost/delayed for 36 hours – my Capital One credit card covered my expenses to purchase new items until my suitcase turned up
- I collected points on my credit card with every purchase to be redeemed for future travel
The list goes on. I couldn’t imagine traveling without a credit card. Not only is it the easiest for reserving flights and accommodations, but if you run out of money or find yourself stuck in any situation, you have a back-up plan. Pretty much everyone accepts cards around the world, so you can easily buy whatever you need.
Collecting points actually helps me travel more often as I can redeem free travel, like flights, hotels, and transportation.
You can discover all the ways that I pay for travel with this article, How I Afford to Travel So Much.
MY CREDIT SCORE JOURNEY
These are my first impressions using Capital One’s Credit Keeper online tool and my actual credit score. Over the next several months, I’m going to monitor my credit score and share the results with you.
Please note that the Credit Keeper application is currently rolling out to Capital One customers. If you don’t the invite to login to it immediately when you go into your Online Banking account, you should see it soon.
The first thing I noticed when I used Credit Keeper was just how simple it was to use. I clicked to get my credit score, and it appeared on the screen. That’s it! And for the big reveal, here’s my first credit score.
What a relief! It actually ended up being higher than I thought. Like I said before, I had no idea what my credit score was. My keys to a successful credit score? I pay off my credit card in full every month. I never miss bill payments. I have had my credit card for a long amount of time.
What if you check your credit score and it isn’t what you thought? Don’t fret! Knowledge is the first step. Now, you can work to raise your credit score. This will help you to achieve more of your goals in life, like traveling more often or buying a house.
Only 12% of Canadians check their credit score on a yearly basis. With the Credit Keeper tool, Canadians are easily able to access their updated credit scores on a weekly basis.
YOUR CREDIT SCORE AND WHAT TO DO
With Capital One’s Credit Keeper, you can use this information about your financial health to benefit you. You can protect your score, monitor your score, and take the steps to improve your credit score.
Knowing your credit score can help protect you from fraud and identity theft. For instance, you might have excellent credit and that score drastically dips lower for no reason. If you can’t explain this change in credit, its best to alert your credit bureau right away. Without actively monitoring your credit score, you may have no idea if someone is using your identity to open new credit accounts. Do you really want to wait to apply for a mortgage to find that you’re not approved…because someone else used your identity in a fraudulent way?
By monitoring your credit score on a regular basis, you can know where you stand. This is really important if you plan to apply for that credit card that will turn you into a travel hacking wizard.
Your money can help you achieve your dreams. Whether it’s buying a house, a car, or traveling more often, your financial well-being can change your life in a positive way.
Capital One is an innovative company that creates new features to help you reach your goals in life. For Capital One cardholders, the Credit Keeper application is built right into your Capital One account. It’s an intuitive program that’s incredibly easy to use.
Travel and credit scores are closely tied. With a healthy financial standing, it’s much easier to travel around the world. You can go farther and travel more often.
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