When was the last time you checked your credit history and score? If it was within six to 12 months go to the head of the class. If you said never or a couple of years ago, then you don the dunce cap.
A strong credit score has never been more important. A poor one can stand in the way of everything from getting a car loan, a mortgage or even renting an apartment.
You can access an abbreviated credit report free from equifax.ca or transunion.ca. A full report plus your score will cost from $7.95 to $23.95. A credit score of 750 or above from either agency is considered good.
Here are some tips for a credit history.
• Do pay your bills on time. Late payments will drag down your score.
• Do pay at least the minimum plus a bit more on any bill, loan, line of credit or credit card.
• Do check your monthly bank and credit card statements to make sure every charge is correct.
• Do read your credit card statements for changes to things like interest rates and fees.
• Do contact creditors (including utility, phone and insurance companies) if you are having trouble paying your bills. You may get some extra time before the company reports late or non-payments.
• Do build up a strong history with regular credit card use but pay the balance in full every month.
• Don’t go over your credit card limit and don’t dip into your overdraft regularly. Both will lower your credit score.
• Don’t apply for too many retail credit cards. You may get a discount on purchases when you apply, but having a large amount of credit available, even if you don’t use it, can lower your credit score.
• Don’t delay in reporting suspicious transactions on any bank account or credit card.
• Don’t be tempted with Buy Now Pay Later schemes if your credit score is marginal or poor, as many of them are actually credit cards and will affect your score.