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Understanding your credit score

What is a credit score?

Your credit score is an important number when it comes to getting approved for credit. To a potential lender, it represents how well you can manage credit, and the level of risk that exists in providing you with credit.

A good credit score can make your financial life much easier and help you save money on interest costs down the road. Your credit score is located within your credit report.

Calculating your credit score

Your credit score is represented as a 3 digit number ranging from 300-900. A score near 300 would be considered ‘poor’; whereas, a score above 750 is considered ‘very good’ to ‘excellent’.

It’s important to understand that credit scores are not permanent. Lenders, like Meridian, submit information to the Canadian credit reporting agencies regularly, and as that new information is received, your credit report details and score are updated.

Every time your credit report is updated, your credit score is refreshed to reflect any new information. The following factors are used to determine your credit score, and any change may result in a different score.

  • Payment history - are you making your payments on time, every month?
  • Credit usage - how much of the credit available to you are you using?
  • Length of credit history - how long have you been using credit?
  • Type of credit - what types of credit do you have? (i.e. loans, lines of credit, credit cards etc.)
  • New credit - are you applying for new credit? (credit cards, loans, mortgages etc.)

Protecting your credit score

There are many ways to damage or improve your score. You can protect your score by:

  • making your minimum payments on time
  • not using more than 30% of the credit limit available to you

Ultimately, the fewer late or missed payments you have, the greater the likelihood that your credit score will become, or remain, higher.

In Canada, Equifax and TransUnion, are the two major credit reporting agencies. Your credit score from each may differ. If you notice that your score is different, it may be because some lenders report to only one of the credit agencies or because the formula used to calculate credit scores differs slightly.

How to get your credit score

To get more information on your credit score, visit the credit bureaus directly and request a copy of your report.

TransUnion

Equifax Canada