Think of your credit score as a report card on how you’ve handled your finances in the past. A credit score is a number that lenders use to determine the risk of lending money to a given borrower.
There is always someone willing to lend you money however, higher risk = higher rates!
Step 1 for good credit – you need to know your credit history
• In Canada there are 2 credit bureaus – Equifax and TransUnion.
• You can receive a FREE copy of your credit report from both Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada once a year
• You can pay Equifax or TransUnion for a digital copy, which is much faster, BUT you have to pay, which sucks.
I recommend you order a copy of your credit report from both Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada, since each credit bureau may have different information about how you have used credit in the past.
Ordering your own credit report has no effect on your credit score.
• Equifax Canada refers to your credit report as “credit file disclosure”.
• TransUnion Canada refers to your credit report as “consumer disclosure”.
Once you have obtained your free credit report, check it for errors:
• Are there any late payments that have been erroneously attributed to your credit history?
• Are the amounts owing in your credit report accurate?
• Is there anything missing on your credit bureau
o Sometimes the credit bureau has more that one file with your name, which can be merged, but it takes time.
If you find any errors on your credit report, you need to dispute them with your credit bureau.
How can I get a copy of my credit report and credit score?
There are two national credit bureaus in Canada: Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada. You should check with both bureaus.
Credit scores run from 300 to 900. The higher the number, the greater the likelihood a request for credit will be approved.
The “free-report-by-mail” links are not prominently displayed, since credit bureaus would love to sell you instant access to your report and credit score online.
Equifax, the instructions to get a free credit report by mail are available here.
For TransUnion, the instructions to get a free credit report by mail are available here.
The bottom line: when it comes to financing your life, through credit cards, mortgages, car loans or any other kind of debt – your credit score has a BIG impact on what kind of terms you can negotiate.
Keeping an eye on your credit score is important — if there’s a problem or an error, you want to know and have time to fix it before you apply for a loan. If you have any questions, contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.
Written by Kelly Hudson