How to check and keep track of your credit score

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How to check and keep track of your credit score

Rounding it up

  • Your credit score represents your credit history and ability to pay bills on time

  • It’s important to keep track of your score so you don’t run into difficulty when applying for things like loans, or rental applications

  • You can get a free credit report through a credit bureau every 12 months, but this won’t show your credit score

  • There are two types of credit enquiries; a soft check or a hard check

  • You can check your credit score by paying a fee to a credit bureau, through your financial institution, or through a third party site

5 min read

Aoife Stapleton
#credit score#debt management#credit building

Whether you’re proud as punch of it, or dreading the thought of checking it, your credit score is one of the most important three digits in any Canadian's life. Typically sitting somewhere between 300 - 900, your credit score is designed to represent your credit history and your ability to pay bills on time. Your credit score is important for lots of everyday things like getting a loan, taking out a mortgage, or renting, so it’s important to know and keep track of where yours is at.

A good credit score is usually anything between 660 and 724, anything above that is considered very good and if you’re hitting anything over 760, well kudos to you – that’s as good as it gets. Although it varies from province to province, the average Canadian’s credit score is around 650. If you’re worried about your credit score being too low, don’t worry, there are lots of things you can do to work towards improving it and we’ve got tons of other blog articles to help guide you through that process.

It’s good to keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have just one credit score. Many score providers use different models to work out your score and lenders may not report your data to all credit bureaus, which can cause your score to vary.

Here’s a few different ways you can check and keep track of yours:

Through a credit bureau

A credit bureau basically collects information on your credit history from the likes of banks and other financial institutions to paint a well-rounded picture of your financial past. The three major credit bureaus in Canada are Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. You’re entitled to a free credit report every 12 months through one of Canada’s credit bureaus, but these reports don’t actually contain a credit score, they just provide a run down of your financial history. To get your credit score from a credit bureau you’ll usually need to pay a fee.

Through your bank

Usually your credit card company, bank, or loan company will have a partnership with a credit bureau to give you free access to your credit score. Sometimes you can find this on your credit statement, other times it’s accessible through your online banking app. The score your bank shows you may not always be the final score they use to make lending decisions, as they sometimes take other factors into account, but it will give you a good idea of where you're at.

Through a third party site

Before we get into using third party sites, let’s talk about the two different types of credit checks: a soft check and a hard check (these can sometimes be called “pulls”). A hard check usually happens when you make an application for something like a loan or property rental. These can only be performed with your permission and may also affect your credit score. A soft check, on the other hand, can be performed without your permission and is usually carried out for things like loan pre-approvals, or employer credit-checks. This kind of check won’t affect your overall score, regardless of how many you do.

When you check your credit score using a third party site or app, like Credit Karma, it’s typically a soft check. Some sites will let you do this for free, others will charge a fee for a subscription service that allows you to keep track of when your score goes up or down and what might be causing the change. If you’re trying to increase your credit score to better your chances of getting something like a mortgage or a car loan, these sites are an easy and affordable way to keep tabs on it.

Spot a mistake on your credit report? Here’s what to do:

Even if you’re not planning on making any big financial decisions in the near future, it’s important to keep an eye on your score to make sure the data that’s being reported is correct. Mistakes do happen from time to time, and unfortunately, so does fraud – one wrong report could really affect your score. Always scan through everything on your report carefully and make sure you’re familiar with each item, like loans and credit accounts, as well as your personal details.

If you spot something that doesn’t look right, you can open a dispute with the credit bureau you got the report from. This usually involves giving a written account of what is wrong and why you think it’s incorrect and including any supporting documents that will help in resolving the issue.

If you ever suspect fraud, you can put a fraud alert on your credit report so that any new applications will require an identity check before approval. Equifax allows you to add this for free. You can also add a personal statement to your credit report if you’d like to add more explanation about your situation that lenders will take into consideration when making a decision.

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