How To Build Credit Score In Canada
The experience of moving to a new country can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time. Besides the logistical challenges of finding a new home, obtaining a visa, and securing a job, it is also important to pay attention to your financial health as you settle into your new surroundings.
If you have recently moved to Canada, one of the key steps towards establishing financial stability is to build a good credit score in Canada. This is because a positive credit history can make it easier for you to acquire important assets like a house, a car, or other significant purchases. However, it is worth noting that your credit history does not carry over when you move to a new country.
Building a credit score from scratch in Canada can be intimidating, but it is crucial to start the process as soon as possible. In this article, we will provide some helpful tips and tricks specifically designed for newcomers and immigrants to Canada. Regardless of whether you come from India, the Philippines, Jamaica, or Europe, our goal is to demystify the process and show you how to build your credit score in Canada.
Why Is It Important to Build Credit Score in Canada?
Establishing credit in Canada is essential to build credit in Canada and demonstrate to banks and other lenders that you are financially responsible. A strong credit history is particularly crucial if you intend to secure a large loan to purchase a house or car. While it’s possible to transfer your financial assets and funds from your home country to Canada, your credit score does not follow you. Although some new arrivals may appreciate starting with a clean credit slate, it can be a challenging prospect for others. Building a new credit history in Canada is necessary to establish a solid financial foundation and increase your chances of getting approved for credit products.
Steps to start building credit Score in Canada
1. Open a bank account
Opening a bank account is the first step towards establishing your credit history, and while it may not be directly credit-related, it’s an essential one.
“When you open a bank account, the financial institution reports this information to the credit bureau, initiating a new credit file for you,” explains Aman Anand, Senior Director of Credit Risk at TransUnion. “Since it’s coming from a reputable financial institution, it provides a fresh credit file for the individual.”
Moreover, opening a bank account initiates a relationship with the financial institution that can offer you a range of products and services over time. However, it’s crucial to select a bank account that suits your needs.
2. Get a cell phone
A cell phone plan is one of the first utilities immigrants will sign up for, and CanadianSIM can help you get started with a plan that fits your needs. A monthly cell phone plan is a good opportunity to make consistent, regular bill payments, which can positively affect your credit score. CanadianSIM not only provides a great way to start building your credit history, but we also help you begin the process from day one of your life in Canada.
Many Canadian phone providers will report your monthly payments to credit bureaus, but be mindful that you may have to ask your cell phone provider to report your payment history since some may not do it automatically. Also, be sure to get a monthly phone plan, not a prepaid one, as prepaid plans do not help you build credit. With CanadianSIM, you can choose from a variety of monthly phone plans that fit your budget and needs while helping you build credit at the same time.
3. Get your first credit card
Your first credit card can be an excellent opportunity to establish credit. Every month, you have the chance to demonstrate your creditworthiness by paying off your balance in full.
You also have control over how much you charge to your card, which can help you keep your credit card balance low. To prevent negative effects on your credit score, Anand recommends keeping your balance below 35% of your credit limit. For instance, if your credit limit is $1,000, try to keep your balance under $350.
There are many credit cards available in Canada, including some designed specifically for newcomers. You may also consider applying for a secured credit card that reports to one of Canada’s credit bureaus.
The golden rule of being a credit card customer – and building credit overall – is to always pay your bills on time. Missed or late payments will appear on your credit report, lower your credit score, and make lenders hesitant to work with you.
Settling into a new country can be expensive, making it challenging to keep credit card usage low in the initial months. However, it’s essential to limit your credit use and pay down balances as quickly as possible.
4. Ask your landlord to report your rent
As a newcomer in Canada, you may be able to build up your credit score by having your monthly rent payments reported to the credit bureau. This is an effective way to showcase your financial responsibility without taking on debt. You can request your landlord to report your rent payments to the credit bureau, and this can help improve credit score in canada over time. It’s important to make your rent payments on time as missed or late payments can negatively impact your credit score. By making regular, timely payments, you can demonstrate your creditworthiness and establish a strong credit history.
5. Limit your number of credit checks
When applying for new credit cards, it’s important to be aware of the number of “hard checks” on your credit report. Each time you apply for a new credit product, such as a credit card or loan, the lender will conduct a thorough review of your credit history, which is called a “hard check”. Unfortunately, every hard check will cause a small drop in your credit score. If you apply for multiple credit products at once, your score could drop significantly. Therefore, it’s important to be mindful of the number of hard checks you accumulate as you work to build your credit score in Canada.
What impacts your credit score in canada?
- Payment history: This is one of the most important factors that affects your credit score. Late or missed payments on your credit accounts can have a negative impact on your credit score. Making your payments on time and in full is the best way to Boost credit score in Canada.
- Credit utilization: This refers to the amount of credit you are using compared to the total amount of credit you have available. A high credit utilization rate can lower your credit score, so it’s best to keep your credit utilization below 30%.
- Length of credit history: The longer your credit history, the better it is for your credit score. Lenders like to see a long and stable credit history to assess your creditworthiness. If you are new to credit, it may take some time to build up a good credit history.
- Credit mix: Having a mix of different types of credit accounts, such as credit cards, loans and mortgages, can help improve your credit score in Canada. This shows lenders that you are able to manage different types of credit responsibly.
- New credit inquiries: Every time you apply for new credit, such as a credit card or loan, it results in a hard inquiry on your credit report. Too many hard inquiries can lower your credit score, so it’s important to be selective when applying for new credit.
- Public records: Bankruptcies, foreclosures and other public records can have a negative impact on your credit score. These types of events can stay on your credit report for several years, so it’s important to try to avoid them if possible.
Credit scores and credit reports
If you’re a new immigrant in Canada, it’s important to build two essential resources for lenders to evaluate your creditworthiness: a credit report and a credit score. Although related, these two elements provide different perspectives on your credit history. Both credit reports and credit scores are created by Canada’s two major credit bureaus, TransUnion and Equifax. By establishing a good credit report and credit score, you can gain access to loans, credit cards, and other financial products in Canada.
What is a credit score?
A credit score is a numerical representation of a person’s creditworthiness, which is based on their credit history. It is essentially a measure of how likely an individual is to repay their debts on time.
Credit scores are calculated by credit reporting agencies, which compile information about a person’s borrowing and repayment history from various sources, such as banks, credit card companies, and other lenders. The credit score is then used by lenders to determine the level of risk associated with extending credit to that person.
- Credit scores range from 300 to 900
- A higher credit score indicates better creditworthiness
- A good credit score is generally above 700
- A score below 600 is considered poor
- Payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, and types of credit used impact credit scores
- Maintaining a good credit score is important to obtain credit such as loans or credit cards
- A good credit score can impact the interest rates and terms offered on credit products
What’s a credit report?
A credit report is a comprehensive record of your credit history including,
- Your personal details, including Social Insurance Number, and past/present employers.
- Your credit accounts, both opened and closed, and if they have been closed because of unpaid debts or fraud.
- The payment history for all of your credit accounts, including made and missed payments.
- Any bankruptcies, overdue accounts that had to be sent to a collections agency or court decisions against you that involve credit.
- A list of the creditors who have accessed your credit report in the past three years.
- Your credit report may also include a credit rating, a code used to tell creditors what kind of credit you have used and if you’ve been making your payments on time.
How to get a credit score in canada?
In Canada, you can obtain a credit score by requesting your credit report from either of the two main credit bureaus, Equifax or TransUnion. You can order a free copy of your credit report by mail, but if you need it urgently, you can pay for it online or in person at their offices. Here are the steps to obtain your credit score in canada:
- Visit the Equifax or TransUnion website.
- Request a copy of your credit report.
- Provide the required personal information to confirm your identity.
- Choose the method of delivery for your credit report.
- Receive your credit report and review your credit score.
It’s recommended that you check your credit report regularly to ensure its accuracy and detect any potential identity theft or fraud.
How long does information stay on your credit report in Canada?
In Canada, most information can stay on your credit report for six to seven years from the date of the last activity. This includes accounts, collections, judgments, and bankruptcies. After this time, the information is typically removed from your credit report. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, a bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for 7-14 years depending on the province or territory where you filed. It’s important to note that even after the information is removed from your credit report, it may still be used by lenders or other organizations to make credit decisions.
Frequently Asked Questions
The time it takes to improve your credit score in Canada can vary depending on your individual circumstances and financial behavior. Generally, it can take several months or even years to see significant improvement in your credit score. However, there are some things you can do to improve your score more quickly, such as:
- Paying your bills on time every month
- Keeping your credit utilization low (ideally below 30%)
- Regularly checking your credit report for errors and disputing any inaccuracies
- Having a mix of different types of credit, such as a credit card and a car loan
- Avoiding opening too many new credit accounts at once
- Keeping your old credit accounts open, even if you don’t use them much
By consistently practicing good credit habits and being patient, you can gradually improve your credit score over time.
- Make payments on time and in full
- Reduce credit card balances and keep credit utilization low
- Apply for credit sparingly and only when necessary
- Keep credit accounts open, even if you’re not using them actively
- Monitor your credit report regularly and dispute any errors
- Consider getting a secured credit card or becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account to build credit history
- Work with a credit counselor or financial advisor for personalized advice on improving your credit score.
- Apply for a Canadian credit card: Start with a secured credit card, which requires a deposit, or a credit card with a low limit to help establish a credit history.
- Pay your bills on time: This includes rent, utilities, and any other bills you have. Consistently paying on time shows lenders that you’re reliable and responsible.
- Keep your credit utilization low: Try to keep your credit card balance below 30% of your limit. High credit utilization can negatively impact your credit score.
- Consider a credit builder loan: This type of loan is specifically designed to help you build credit. The loan proceeds are held in a savings account and you make payments each month. Once you’ve paid off the loan, you get the money.
- Ask to be added as an authorized user: If you have a friend or family member with a good credit history, ask them to add you as an authorized user on their credit card. This can help you build credit, but be sure to make payments on time.
- Monitor your credit report: Regularly check your credit report to make sure everything is accurate and up to date. This can help you catch errors or fraudulent activity early on.
- Be patient: Building credit takes time and there’s no quick fix. Keep making payments on time and maintaining good credit habits, and you’ll see your credit score improve over time.