If I was to ask the questions “when is that last time you pulled your own credit”? What would you say? Unfortunately most people do not understand the importance of doing this on a regular basis nor sometimes do they even know how they would go about doing this. When I ask this question I am not asking you to go to a bank or financial institution to get them to pull it, this would be considered a hard hit and would show up as record for an inquiry on your credit which could have a negative effect. What I am talking about is YOU actually pulling your own credit, yes you! Doing it this way serves a couple of purposes.
- You will be able to monitor your credit to ensure that you have the correct items reporting on your credit bureau. Surprisingly enough the credit reporting agencies aren’t perfect, nor are the financial institutions that report to them.
- You will be able to keep on top of any potential collections or mistakes that may have been made. I have seen many times that there was something negative reporting on someone’s credit that they never even knew existed, and as it turns out it was a mistake. Once removed their credit was back in good standing.
- You will be able to ensure that you keep and maintain a good credit score year round. One mistake reporting on your credit could have enough of an effect on your credit to cause issues if you were going to purchase a home.
It is not uncommon for collections to be reporting as owing when they have already been paid, or to have credit cards showing open with a balance when they have; in fact, been closed and paid. Regular maintenance of your credit takes discipline and consistency, but it will be well worth it.
The Two major credit reporting companies in Canada are Equifax and TransUnion; both of these companies have websites that you can go you and an easy to follow process to pull your own credit score. These companies take into account different variables to come up with a beacon score for each person, beacon scores typically read between 300 and 900, I have personally never seen a beacon score in the 300’s and have never seen one over 860. Prime lenders typically want to see a minimum beacon score of 620 but I would recommend at a minimum to keep your score over 680. In order to do that you will need to ensure you do a few things such as:
- Keep your balances below 75% of your limit, once you start going over this threshold your score will start to drop as it looks as though you are being irresponsible with your credit. My recommendation is try to not have a balance or to have a low balance, if this is not an option try to keep it around 50%.
- Don’t credit search. What I mean by this is if you are denied a loan or credit and you continually “Jump” from bank to bank, every one of those inquiries is reported and will have a negative effect on your credit. The more inquiries you have the worse your score will be.
- Don’t be late on payments. Having clean credit is one of the most important things as this shows your responsibility with credit and your capacity to repay debt. If a lender sees you can’t make a loan payment or credit card payment on time, they won’t have confidence you will be able to repay your mortgage on time.
- Keep your cards open, yes I said keep them open. A big mistake I see a lot of people make is that they say they closed all of their accounts to improve your credit, I can see why this may seem like the best idea but it actually has a reverse effect. Not having any credit reporting could lead to a client eventually having a reject beacon score becuase of the lack of current credit history, if left long enough could keep you from getting into a home. Keep your credit open so it continues to report and try to have a limit of at least $2500 as most lenders will not look seriously at credit if the limit is only $300 to $1000.
Remember that good credit is based on the type of credit you have, duration of credit open, balances to limit ratios and good repayment. I would recommend that everyone have minimum two types of credit to help strengthen it, but remember that this is NOT your money so be responsible with it and don’t use it if you don’t have the money to pay it off in your account. I also don’t mean for you to go and get 10 different credit cards, two would be just fine but it shows variety with your credit.
Lenders typically like to see two active trades (credit card, loan, Line of credit) for two years reporting cleanly on your credit. This shows them a good history of debt management and repayment responsibility and will most likely give you the best chances of getting into a home.
If you have more questions or would like to learn more please contact me at 250-785-7171