A strong credit score can help you get approved for a new loan, credit card, or mortgage at a more favorable interest rate. This can save you hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest over the lifetime of your loan.
In Canada, credit scores range from 300 to 900. Here’s how to know where you fall and how to boost your credit score.
What is a bad credit score?
Credit score range
Poor or bad
560 to 659
660 to 724
725 to 759
760 and up
A score below 560 is generally considered poor or ‘bad’ in Canada, according to credit bureau Equifax.. A score between 560 and 659 is often considered fair, while scores between 660 and 724 are considered acceptable or good. If your score is between 725 and 759, it’s considered very good, while scores 760 and higher are viewed as excellent.
If your score is at 560, lower, or hovering close to this range, your credit score is considered poor.
How a bad credit score affects your finances
Having a bad credit score makes it harder for you to qualify for new credit products. That can hurt your finances for a number of reasons. First, if you need to make a large purchase, like a car to transport you to work, you’ll be less likely to secure financing. And, if you do get approved for a loan, you’ll likely receive a higher interest rate, which means you’ll pay more for the loan than you might have with a higher credit score. Additionally, since the best way to build credit is by using credit correctly, you may find it harder to grow your credit score.
How to improve your credit score
Here’s how you can boost your credit score by using a credit card responsibly:
Pay your credit card bill on-time. Always pay your credit card bill on time and in full each month. On-time payments account for 35% of your credit score, so staying on top of this will help your score improve. Enrolling in autopay can help you keep your account in good standing.
Pay more than the minimum due. If possible, pay off your entire balance, but if you can’t, try to pay more than the minimum amount due to help keep your account in good standing and to decrease interest charges.
Don’t overspend. Only charge purchases you can afford to pay back in full. Not only will this prevent you from accumulating credit card debt and interest, but it will help your credit score grow by keeping your balance low.
Charge less than 30% of your credit limit. Your credit utilization — how much you use in credit versus how much is available to you — accounts for 30% of your credit score. Try to limit credit card purchases to 30% or less than your total credit limit.
Treat your credit card like a debit card. To avoid missing a payment, pay off purchases as you charge them.
Minimum credit score for credit card approval
Every credit card credit score requirements vary by issuer and card type. Many of the best rewards and travel cards come with steeper credit requirements, and may be reserved for borrowers with good to excellent credit scores.
However, credit building credit cards generally have more flexible credit requirements. If you have bad or fair credit, you may get approved for a credit building card. There are different types of credit building cards, ranging from secured cards which require a security deposit to fund your credit line, to student credit cards, and cards that aim to help you build your credit score.
Courtney is a professional writer, editor and financial literacy enthusiast. You can find her writing on CNET, Investopedia, The Motley Fool, Yahoo Finance, MSN and The Balance. She spends her free time exploring different cities across the globe or enjoy some downtime with her two cats and one dog.