Here’s a guest post from Ed O’Brien about Credit Scores- I don’t know too much about credit scores because I never really had to worry about them (since I’m an angel and always paid my credit card bills on time lol), so I was very interested to see how credit scoring works here in Canada. Though when I got my credit score when I applied for my mortgage, I was surprised I was only in the 780’s. I think this is likely because I have some unused credit cards that are just lying around. Time for some spring cleaning, I suppose!
Your credit score is a number that evaluates the information in your credit report. A good credit score would indicate that you’ve been responsible with your credit accounts and have paid on time. A bad credit score reveals the opposite, that you haven’t paid your accounts on time or that you’ve had to file bankruptcy to deal with your debt.
Credit scores in Canada are calculated and sold by two major credit bureaus: Equifax and TransUnion. The scores range from 300 to 900. Credit scores above 800 are the best, 760 to 799 is good, the low 700s are fair, and below 699 is a bad credit score. Lenders place a lot of importance on credit scores during the application process because statistics show that consumers with the best scores are the least likely to default on their credit cards and loans. On the other hand, delinquency rates are very high with borrowers with credit scores below 600.
What a Good Credit Score Means
A good credit score put you in the best position to be approved for many credit cards and loans without having to go through a rigorous application process. Of course, mortgage and auto loan applications will be a more intense process even with a great credit score. Not only does a good credit score improve your chances at being approved, it also lets you get the best interest rates and terms on the loans you’re approved for. You may even have more access to instant approval loans and credit cards.
Things That Hurt Your Credit Score
There are things you do that will bring your credit score down and hurt your ability to get approved for new credit cards, loans, and other credit-based services. Here are a few things that hurt your credit score:
- Having too many accounts. Unfortunately, we don’t know the specific number of accounts that hurts your credit score, so keep your accounts on an as-needed basis.
- Having high account balances. Any credit card balance that’s above 35% of the credit limit is too high.
- Too few accounts or recently used accounts. The same way having too many accounts hurts your credit score, having too few accounts also hurts your credit.
- Loan balances too high compared to the original loan amount. The longer it takes you to pay off your loans from, including those from cash advance sources, the more your credit score is affected.
- Applying for too many credit cards or loans within the past 12 months. Requesting a copy of your own credit report or credit score does not hurt your credit.
- Having a short credit history. A credit account that hasn’t been activated for very long since.
You have the power to get and maintain a good credit score by paying your bills on time every month – even utility bills and cell phone companies that don’t report positive payments, sometimes report late payments. Paying balances quickly will help your credit score since high loan and credit card balances negatively affect your credit score. Keep your new applications to a minimum. Apply only as needed.
Ordering Your Credit Score
Though you can order your credit report online or by mail, your credit score is only available for purchase online. You can check your credit score at either (or both) of the two credit bureau websites: Equifax.ca and TransUnion.ca.
Your credit score could be affected by errors on your credit report. If you review your credit report and find errors, you contact the credit-reporting agency and ask them to investigate the error or contact the business that listed the information and ask them to contact the credit reporting agency.
Ed O’Brien is an expert writer in personal finance, specializing in credit repair. You can find more of his articles located at CreditRepair.org.