A quick guide on credit scores and why it’s important.
It’s your credit score. It is very important. Also, let’s be honest, your Uber rating doesn’t really matter. So, really any score is more important than that.
What is a credit score?
Well, a credit score is a number anywhere from 300 to 900 assigned to you by designated credit bureaus depending on how “good” you are with all the loans you have. These loans include credit cards, OSAP, internet bills, etc. Basically, anything where you get the product or service now and you pay for it later (including your phone bill that you pay at the end of the month).
The score rule of thumb:
You’re impeccable. You’re perfect.
720 – 799
You have strong credit. You will qualify for almost, if not, everything.
650 – 719
You You will be able to qualify for most loans, however, you might not get the best rates.
600 – 649
Your credit score is adequate. Practicing good credit behaviour will increase your score over time.
300 – 599
This score is unsatisfactory. Don’t stress if you find yourself here. Practice good credit behaviour, and with time you will increase your score.
Why do I care about my credit score?
You care about your credit score because it affects your ability to qualify for loans. This includes qualifying for a mortgage, lease a vehicle, get that shiny new credit card, and occasionally, even just to rent a place. Basically, if left unnoticed, your credit score could affect life as you know it. Furthermore, a lower credit score almost always means that the interest rate quoted to you isn’t the best deal in market.
Who decides my credit score?
In Canada, there are two different bureaus that determine your credit worthiness – Equifax and TransUnion. Your score on both the bureaus are slightly different as each agency has it’s own unique algorithm to calculate the score. The better the bureaus deem you to be with credit, the higher your credit score.
How can I check my credit score for free?
In Canada, there are many ways to check your score for free.
- You can get your credit report straight from Equifax and TransUnion by mailing/faxing in appropriate forms or calling in.
- If you’re slothful like me – you can just create an account with websites like Credit Karma and Borrowell online and they’ll give you your score based on what it is on TransUnion and Equifax, respectively.
Note: Your Equifax and TransUnion score won’t be exactly the same as each bureau uses a different algorithm to determine credit worthiness. However, both the scores will deem essentially the same creditworthiness.
If you’ve checked your credit score, and it doesn’t fall in a desirable bucket, don’t freak out!
You can always work towards increasing your credit score. I know because I did it. The first step is to be aware of your credit score (yay, you’re already there!), and the second (and more important) step is to be patient.