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Easy Ways to Improve Your Credit Score

By Rubina Ahmed-Haq on May 23, 2019 No Comments

If you’ve recently applied for credit, the lender most likely asked permission to obtain your credit report and credit score. This is standard practice. But as it was for me the first time I went to buy a house, borrowers can be surprised with what their credit score is and how bad spending habits have affected it.

It’s important to first understand what a credit score is. It is a number in a range of 300-900. It determines how risky of a person you are to lend money to.  The higher the number, the less risky you are. Generally speaking, a score of more than 700 is considered good. If it’s more than 750 your credit score is better than the majority of Canadians.

Your credit report is where all the details of your financial history going back seven years are listed. This will include any debt you are currently in and all the credit that is already available to you. This can also show how many times you have applied for credit in the past.

You can get a credit report and credit score from one of the two credit reporting agencies in Canada, Transunion or Equifax.

Having a good score is important, because lenders will offer loans at a lower rate. According to Canada.ca your payment history is the most important factor for your credit score. If you are unhappy with your score here are some easy ways to improve it.

Start making payments on time

The number one way to improve your score is to pay all your bills on time. This includes your rent and utility bills.

Don’t go into arrears

If you can’t pay the full balance on your credit card, make sure you pay the minimum to keep your credit in good standing.

Don’t apply for unnecessary credit cards and loans

If you do, you can been seen as a risk to lend to by creditors.

Don’t have too many credit cards or loans

If you’ve already have a credit card or line of credit don’t carry a balance of more than 75% of available limit.

Keep in touch with your lender

If you think you’ll have trouble paying a bill, get in touch with your lender. If it’s a utility company, see if they allow you to pay next month, by incurring a small fee.

Don’t skip a payment

Even if your bill is in dispute, pay it if you can. This often happens between landlord and tenants. You still have to pay your rent, even if you have a grievance with you landlord.

Build your credit history

According to Canada.ca, the longer you have a credit account open and in use, the better it is for your score.

Don’t take too many hard hits

A hard hit is when a check appears on your credit report. It also counts towards you credit score. This means that anyone who views your credit report will see these. This includes an application for a credit card.

Soft hits are checks that appear on your credit report but only you can see them. These credit checks don’t affect your credit score in any way. You can request your own credit report with no issues.

Here is what a bad credit score can affect:

  • Your ability to get a mortgage
  • Your ability to get the best available rate
  • A job offer can be denied
  • Application for a rental can be denied
  • You may be unable to rent a car

I recommend getting your credit score once per year. This helps you address any errors that might be on your report, as they do happen, and proactively improve your score if you need to.  Also, look for errors like old information, information not related to you, and missing updated information that could help your score.

Always knowing where you stand financially will help you better prepare for big purchases (like buying a home) and avoid any last minute delays due to errors on your credit report. Also, unlike how I felt 10 years ago, you won’t be shocked when you realize you score is not as good as you thought it would be.

 

 

Rubina Ahmed-Haq


Rubina Ahmed-Haq is a Journalist and Personal Finance Expert. She is the go-to money expert in Canada for several media outlets. She regularly appears on CBC Radio, CBC News Network, CTV Your Morning and Global Toronto. She writes for Homes Publishing group, ratesupermarket.ca, debt.ca and has her own website www.alwayssavemoney.ca. Rubina began her career as a broadcast journalist in 1999. Since then she has covered everything from local news, foreign affairs, politics, sports and of course finance! As a business reporter she has worked for CP24 from the Toronto Stock Exchange and reported for BNN. Her work has also appeared in the Toronto Star and various other magazines. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from York University and is an alumna of the Humber College post graduate journalism program and holds the CSC designation. Her goal is to help Canadians find easy ways to manage their own finances. Follow her on Twitter @alwayssavemoney.

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