When is the last time you had a heart to heart talk with your partner about finances? Your wedding day is impending and all the excitement about your special day is upon you. Along with the dream of your wedding day you have the aspirations of owning a home, having a great vacation, buying new furniture, and possibly planning for a family. Now is the time to sit down and assess your joint financial situation, to plan a budget, start saving, and to have a serious talk about credit.
As credit has become more and more abundant in our society, your credit report, and thus your credit rating, has become more important in your daily life. Your credit rating affects all aspects of your financial activities when it comes to borrowing money. Your credit rating also has the ability to affect the job you get, the apartment you rent, and even the ability to open a bank account.
Your credit report itself is simply a listing of all of your consumer debt. Here in Canada, the two main credit reporting agencies are Trans Union and Equifax. Both agencies have a credit history file on anyone who has ever borrowed money. Every time you borrow money, or make a payment on a loan or credit card, the lender then reports the information about the transaction to these two agencies Trans Union and Equifax, Canada’s main credit reporting agencies. In addition to credit information, you will also find liens and judgments on your credit report as well as your address and possibly your work history. The accumulation of all of this information is called your credit report.
The information on your credit report varies based on your creditors and what they have reported about you. Potential lenders and others, such as employers, view your credit history as a reflection of your character. Whether we like it or not, our financial habits have a lot to say about the way in which we choose to live our lives.
A credit score, or beacon score, is a number which gives mortgage lenders an idea of your lending risk. Credit scores range from 300 to 900; the higher your credit score, the better. The mortgage products and interest rate that you will qualify for are often determined by your credit score.
One thing that many people do not know is that you have the legal right to obtain a copy of your credit report. A mortgage professional can help you obtain a copy of this report and go through it with you to verify that all of the information is true and correct.
The good news is that your credit report is a working document. This means that you have the ability over time, to repair any damaged credit and increase your credit score. Here are five steps you can use to help attain a speedy credit score boost:
1) Pay down credit cards. The number one way to increase your credit score is to pay down your credit cards so you’re only using 30% of your limits. Revolving credit like credit cards seems to have a more significant impact on credit scores than car loans, lines of credit, and so on.
2) Limit the use of credit cards. Racking up a large amount and then paying it off in monthly instalments can hurt your credit score. If there is a balance at the end of the month, this affects your score—credit formulas don’t take into account the fact that you may have paid the balance off the next month.
3) Check credit limits. If your lender is slower at reporting monthly transactions, this can have a significant impact on how other lenders may view your file. Ensure everything’s up to date as old bills that have been paid can come back to haunt you.
Some financial institutions don’t even report your maximum limits. As such, the credit bureau is left to only use the balance that’s on hand. The problem is, if you consistently charge the same amount each month—say $1,000 to $1,500—it may appear to the credit-scoring agencies that you’re regularly maxing out your cards. The best bet is to pay your balances down or off before your statement periods close.
4) Keep old cards. Older credit is better credit. If you stop using older credit cards, the issuers may stop updating your accounts. As such, the cards can lose their weight in the credit formula and, therefore, may not be as valuable—even though you have had the cards for a long time. You should use these cards periodically and then pay them off.
5) Don’t let mistakes build up. You should always dispute any mistakes or situations that may harm your score. If, for instance, a cell phone bill is incorrect and the company will not amend it, you can dispute this by making the credit bureau aware of the situation.