Capital One is unlike other banks in that there isn’t one credit bureau that it is most likely to use when looking at a credit card application. It uses Experian (36%), Equifax (32%) and TransUnion (32%) roughly equally. In some cases, it will check two or three credit bureaus when making a lending decision. Remember that all three credit bureaus get their data from the same place: your financial activities. That means there isn’t a huge difference between them so which is pulled doesn’t often matter. However, there are some cases where it can be important, such as where one has an error that the others don’t.
We learned this be reviewing 145 consumer-reported credit inquiries from January 2016 through December 2017. That information showed that Capital One has no real preference when it comes to checking consumers’ credit. The state you’re in may affect which Capital One uses most, but it still checks all three, no matter where you live.
Below is a state-by-state rundown of the credit bureau that Capital One is most likely to use based on the state you apply from.
Capital One Credit Reports Data
|State||Credit bureaus used|
|Arizona||Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion*|
|California||Equifax*, Experian, and TransUnion|
|Florida||Equifax*, Experian, and TransUnion|
|Illinois||Equifax* and Experian|
|Kentucky||Equifax and TransUnion*|
|Louisiana||Equifax, Experian*, and TransUnion|
|Maryland||Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion*|
|Michigan||Equifax, Experian*, and TransUnion|
|Nevada||Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion|
|New Jersey||Equifax, Experian*, and TransUnion|
|North Carolina||Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion*|
|Ohio||Equifax and TransUnion|
|Pennsylvania||Equifax, Experian*, and TransUnion|
|South Carolina||Equifax and TransUnion|
|Texas||Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion*|
|Virginia||Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion*|
|Washington||Equifax, Experian*, and TransUnion|
Where We Got the Data
Apply for the credit card isn’t the most transparent process. Usually, you just fill out a form and a decision pops out. So, you probably aren’t surprised to hear that banks don’t tell us which credit bureaus they use. That means we had to gather this information from people who actually applied for Capital One credit cards.
Each time you apply for a loan of any kind, the lender pulls a copy of your credit report from a credit bureau. Because applying for lots of loans in a short time is a sign that you might be in financial trouble, credit bureaus track how many “hard pulls” are made in your report. If you look at your report, you can see who made a hard pull when, so you can see which credit bureau a lender used.
We used the CreditBoards.com database to collect most of this data. People use the website to see how likely they are to qualify for a certain card. After applying for a card, they can provide info like their income, credit score, and which bureau was used, so future users can better gauge their chances.
We used just the last two years’ results so we can give you the most up-to-date info possible.
What Our Research Means for You
This article is intended to help you identify which credit report will affect your chances of approval for a Capital One card. Use the table above to find which bureau is used most in your state. Then, you can use that information to work on bettering your credit score with that bureau.
Ideally, anything you do to improve your score with one bureau will improve it at all three. However, focusing on one, especially if there are errors, can make things easier. Just keep in mind that Capital One might check more than one credit bureau.
How to Check Your Own Credit Reports
There are a lot of ways to check your own credit report for free.
We recommend that you use AnnualCreditReport.com. This website is sanctioned by the U.S. government and does not force you to sign up for any subscriptions. You can get a free credit report from each credit bureau once per calendar year, free of charge.
If you want to look at your credit report more often, we recommend that you pull one report every four months. That lets you rotate between credit bureaus, getting free reports while getting updates every four months.
Many card issuers, including Capital One and Discover, let you look at your credit report as a benefit of being a cardholder.
While the reports from these other free services don’t come directly from a credit bureau, they’re good enough to let you keep track of things and notice big changes. I use all three of the options I mentioned and it’s helped me improve my credit score to just under 800 in about 7 years.
When you do want to pull a copy of your report from AnnualCreditReport.com, use these tips.
- Enter your information accurately and double check it. Mistakes might lock you out temporarily.
- You’ll be asked verification questions. Some of these are trick questions, so don’t be afraid to answer “none of the above.”
- Save or print a copy of your report as soon as you get it, otherwise, you’ll lose it if you close the browser window.
- Consider pulling your report from a different bureau every four months. That lets you get consistent updates for free.
You can also request a report by phone by calling 1-877-322-8228 or by mail, by sending a form to:
- Annual Credit Report Request Service P.O. Box 105281 Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Requests made by phone and mail will be mailed to you within 15 days.
Another way to get your credit report is to ask a bank for a copy after you are denied for a credit card. They’ll send you a copy of the report they pulled to deny your application.
How to Make Your Credit Report Look Better
Once you’ve had the chance to look at your credit report, you can take steps to ensure that it ensure your chance of approval -- and improve your credit score.
There are a few ways to do this. Here are the best ways to increase your odds of getting a card from Capital One.
Dispute or remove any errors
Having errors on your credit report is more common than you’d think. Removing them is one of the best ways to improve your credit score. Look for missed payments that you didn’t miss, accounts you didn’t open, and things like that.
Each bureau has different instructions for disputing errors, and you should certainly take the time to do so.
Remove delinquent accounts
If you have defaults or unpaid debts on your report, work to remove those from your report. Negotiate with those creditors to get on a payment plan and have the mark removed from your file.
Pay down debt
Lenders are primarily concerned with getting their money back. If you have a lot of debt already, lenders might worry about your ability to make payments on a new credit card. Reduce your total debt to improve your score.
Increase credit limits
Similarly, raising your credit limits on other cards will improve your score. That’s because if your limits are higher, your existing debts are a smaller percentage of your total limit, making it look better on your credit report.
Most credit card companies let you request a limit increase online, though some will make a hard pull on your credit, lowering your score by a few points.
When Your Credit Report is Updated
Lenders don’t send updated information about your loans to the credit bureaus on a daily basis. Usually, they wait until the close of each statement cycle to send updates. That means it can take a month or two for changes, like lowered balances or increased limits to show up on your score. That means you have to plan ahead when working to improve your score that way.
Your Income and Expenses Matter Too
Your credit score isn’t the only important thing when it comes to getting approved for a card. Your income and expenses will play a role too.
When you apply for a card, Capital One will ask you about your annual income and monthly housing payments.
This is because lenders really only care about getting paid back for loans they make.
If you make $1,000 per month and spend $750 on housing, it’s unlikely you can pay the bills on a new credit card. If you make $10,000 a month and spend $4,000 on housing, there’s a much better chance you can make payments.
I’ve had good luck with an increased income increasing my luck with card companies. I have a Capital One Quicksilver card, which I use because it doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee. One day when I logged into my account, it asked me to update the annual income listed for me in the company’s records.
Once, I had provided my updated income after receving a raise, and a few weeks later Capital One offered to increase my credit limit due to my higher income. This caused a small jump in my credit score.
It’s clear that making more money and spending less means it’s easier for you to pay your debts. That’s exactly what Capital One wants to see. Just be sure, to tell the truth about your application because Capital One will occasionally request proof of income or housing expenses.
Apply for a credit card is difficult. Following these tips will give you a better chance of getting approved for a new card from Capital One.