Where Can I Get My Credit Score?
Knowing your credit score is one of the most important things you can do for your financial health.
Your credit score is a numerical representation of your past and present credit trustworthiness that many lenders use when considering whether to approve your credit application or not. It is also used extensively in home rental applications, certain job applications, and applying for a car loan in Scarborough.
So how do you access your credit score?
Before the age of the internet, this was a complicated and slow process that many people simply gave up on. These days, it’s actually incredibly easy to access your credit score with a few clicks of a button. We’ve put together a guide on all the different ways you can access your credit score easily and quickly. Read on for more!
There are two main credit bureaus in Canada, and one of them is Equifax. One of the largest credit bureaus in the world, Equifax uses the FICO credit-scoring model to create their credit scores.
This scoring model is one of the most widely used in the world, and uses five key metrics to determine a score; payment history, length of credit history, capacity used, types of credit used, and past credit applications. Credit scores range from 300 to 850, with the higher the score the better.
The Canadian government has made it a legal right that every Canadian has access to their credit score from the big credit bureaus. Equifax has a free credit report available for any customer through their website. However, the free credit report takes 10 days to be delivered, either by mail or email, which can be highly inconvenient if you need your score now for an upcoming credit application.
Equifax is a for-profit company, and makes most of its money from customers paying for their premium tier of service. This is typically around $20 per month, and allows you to instantly access your credit score. It also comes with credit monitoring to alert you to any possible identity theft activity, which can help you avoid serious negative impacts on your credit score.
There are usually 30 day free trial offers for this service, so you can sign up for the premium level, check your credit score, and see if this is a service you are happy to pay for. If you do not wish to proceed, simply call and cancel before the end of your trial period to avoid paying anything.
TransUnion is the other main credit bureau in Canada and across the world. TransUnion uses the competing credit-scoring model, VantageScore, to produce consumer credit scores. This model uses 6 metrics to build credit histories; payment history, age and type of credit, credit utilization, remaining balances, recent credit, and total available credit.
Much like Equifax, TransUnion has capitulated to the government’s rules and offers a free consumer report containing a detailed breakdown of all financial entries on their credit history. This document is different from the credit score and report a potential lender might receive, as it contains more personal information. Unlike with Equifax, the consumer report is available immediately through the TransUnion website, which can remove some of the frustration.
Again, similar to Equifax, TransUnion makes its money through paid memberships which allows for instant credit score reporting and identity theft protection. This is something that can benefit some people, but it will be up to you to determine whether it is a service you are willing to pay for.
With the dawn of the internet, the big credit bureaus finally have some competition in attracting the eyeballs of consumers looking for their credit scores. One of the biggest players in the credit score field in Canada is undoubtedly Credit Karma.
Credit Karma is an online only service that looks to tap into the instant gratification so widely sought by Millennials and the internet generations. It allows for immediate access to your credit score, completely for free. Credit Karma pulls your TransUnion score, which allows you to see exactly what a lender would see if they were to look up your credit score using the VantageScore model.
Credit Karma works off a “freemium” business model, whereby it is free to use their basic services but you need to pay to access their premium services. The higher tier services include identity theft protection, credit monitoring, and more. They also have an easy to use app which can help keep your credit score at your fingertips whenever you want it.
One of the most popular credit score checking services in Canada is Mogo.
This entirely Canadian owned and operated company works off a similar business model to Credit Karma. It is completely free to access your credit score and credit history through their polished and modern website or app. This allows you to get an indication of where you stand financially and whether you would be approved for a new line of credit or not.
In contrast to Credit Karma, Mogo uses your Equifax score to generate its credit scores. This FICO based credit score is widely used across the finance industry, as well as during rental applications and car loans in Scarborough. It is generally recommended to be aware of both your FICO and VantageScore credit scores to ensure you have a complete view of your financial health.
Mogo offers premium credit monitoring services for a fee as well, which can be useful for protecting against identity theft and erroneous entries on your credit file. If you are in a particularly sensitive time for your credit score, such as when applying for a mortgage, it may be beneficial to sign up for the premium level service to ensure you can stop any damage before it is done should your information be stolen.
Another online credit score checking service that Canadians have access to is LowestRates.ca.
This comparison website compiles financial products from a range of different companies into a single, easy to use comparing framework. This allows you to easily scan between different options and deals in the one place, as opposed to jumping between each brand’s website. This can save you time and money if you are looking for new financial products.
LowestRates.ca also offers a free credit score checking service. Utilising your Equifax score, you are simply required to enter your details into LowestRates.ca and your credit score will be provided free of charge. One unique advantage LowestRates.ca has over the competition is that it can then use your credit score to customise the displayed financial products in its comparison tools to show you exclusive deals that may only be available to customers with your level of credit. This can tip you off to any bonuses you may not have been aware of and help you land a deal on your next credit card or car loan in Scarborough.
What do I do with my score now that I have it?
Once you have your credit score, you should have a better idea of where you stand financially when it comes to credit. If you have a score of 700 or higher, congratulations! You have a good credit score and most financial doors will be open to you. If you have a score of less than 700, however, you might find yourself struggling to get approved for new lines of credit. Don’t worry, there are several things you can do to improve your credit score.
Aim for a credit utilization ratio of 30% or less
Most credit industry experts recommend keeping your credit utilization ratio at 30% or less for optimal credit score performance.
This ratio is the amount of credit you have actually spent divided by the amount of credit you have been approved for in total. For example, you might have a credit card with a $1,000 limit, which you then spend $300 on. Thus, your credit utilization ratio would be $300 divided by $1,000, which equals 0.3 or 30%.
Your credit provider will report your ratio to the credit bureaus every month, typically about a week before the due date on your statement. Try to pay down your credit cards to 30% 10 days before it is due to ensure your credit provider reports on the new balance. You should see steady improvements in your score if you stick to this payment schedule.
Don’t immediately close unused credit accounts
If you have lines of credit or credit cards that have nothing owing and you aren’t using, don’t close them just yet. The extra credit that is sitting there unused still counts towards your total approved credit, which increases the amount your spending is divided by. This will lead to a decrease in your credit utilization ratio, which will boost your score on a month to month basis. If you really feel like closing the unused card, consider requesting a credit limit increase on one of your used cards, or look at opening a new account shortly.
Make repayments a priority
The single largest contributor to your credit score based on either credit-scoring model is your repayment history.
This will take into account all the payments you have made for any line of credit you have taken out over the past five to seven years. When you are late with a payment, miss a payment, or default on a loan, this is recorded in your credit history and can seriously harm your credit score. By making regular, on time repayments on your current credit accounts, you can begin to bury any past mistakes and lessen their impact on your credit score.
A great way to improve your credit score is actually with a car loan. Scarborough Bad Credit Car Loans is the leading provider of car loans for customers with subprime credit scores. We accept any credit level and don’t take ‘No’ for an answer when we negotiate with the biggest banks in Canada. We always fight to get the lowest possible interest rates for our clients, who can then begin rebuilding their credit scores with their monthly repayments. After a year, we’ll even help renegotiate your loan to secure you an even better rate, saving you money and pushing your credit score even higher. If you’re looking for a bad credit car loan in Scarborough, contact us today.