How to Improve a Credit Score in Canada

Improve a Credit Score in Canada
Improve a Credit Score in Canada (Image: Sanja Gjenero)

If you plan to get a mortgage, car loan or personal loan anytime in the future, it's essential to have a good credit score. Lenders use credit scores to decide whether to give you credit and the terms of that credit. Generally, a higher credit score will give you lower interest rates and more lending options. There are two major credit reporting bureaus in Canada: Equifax and TransUnion. If you have ever used credit, you will have a file with at least one of these agencies.

There are five main ways to improve your Canadian credit score. If you stick to all of them, your credit score will start to improve within months.

Pay your bills on time, and pay them in full. The easiest way to improve your Canadian credit score is to always pay your bills on time. Aim to make at least the minimum payment on your credit cards or loans each month.

Keep your balances below your available credit. You should try to use as little of your credit as possible--no more than 30 percent. Never max out a credit card, as this will trigger a reduction in your credit score.

Avoid making too many applications for new credit. Every time you make a new application for credit, the credit reporting bureaus are notified. Making too many credit applications in a short time is considered a negative because it suggests that you may be in financial trouble. Requesting a credit report or credit score will not affect your credit.

Build credit wisely. The secret to a good credit score is not to avoid credit altogether. Build your credit with one or two credit cards or a small personal loan that you know you can pay off in full every month. Aim to show lenders that you can be trusted to handle credit responsibly.

Spot and correct errors in your credit report. Mistakes in your credit report do happen, and they can lower your credit score. Check your credit report carefully for any incorrect information. If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the credit bureaus and your financial institution as quickly as possible. The sooner you identify the problem, the more likely it is that it can be fixed.

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