Knowing and improving your credit score and credit report is important so that you can get the lowest interest rates, have access to credit and protect against identity theft. Not only that, but some non-loan financial transactions, like insurance premiums, are impacted by your credit score. To keep my credit report and credit score in good shape, I get them for free twice a year. If you haven’t had credit before, or have bad credit, checking your credit information will help you establish or rebuild your credit. You can see where you need improvement, and make efforts to boost your creditworthiness where necessary.
You should check your credit reports at least once a year. There are two reporting agencies you need to contact: Equifax Canada Inc. and TransUnion of Canada. Each company offers a free credit report, though it’s much easier to find the paid version. This makes sense, since these agencies want to make money. Instead of going to the sites and trying to locate information about your free credit report, I’ve made it a little easier. Last year I created a pdf with all the contact information and credit report request forms that you’ll need to get your free credit report. This is a great time saver, and you won’t accidentally pay for the privilege of looking at your credit information.
Once you have your credit report, you will want to find out your credit score. You do have to pay to get a credit score from Equifax or TransUnion. It doesn’t come free. However, there is a way to get a free credit score by using a calculator from Bankrate. You enter all the information from your credit report and the calculator will give you a range that your credit score falls into. The range is pretty accurate, even though you won’t be able to pinpoint your exact score. For my own records, I write the range down on my report and file it away to compare to the next time I ask for a credit report.
Improve Your Credit Score
Once you know all this information, the next step is to look for ways to improve your credit score. There are many ways to improve your Canadian credit score, from paying your bills on time to keeping your debt balances low. For best results, you’ll want to keep both revolving and installment credit and continue building your credit history. Look at your credit report for indications of weakness. If you repeatedly pay late, you can see that you need to make greater efforts to pay on time and in full. When you see high credit card balances, it’s clear that you need to pay them down.
Use your free credit reports as a guide to help you make better choices, and then use your free credit score from the Bankrate calculator to track your progress. While it takes a little more effort then simply paying for your score online, getting a free credit score is a great way to save money and still stay on top of your credit information.