How to Boost Your Credit Rating

5 ways to keep your credit score high-and your loan costs low

No black marks on your credit report can help keep you in the black. A good credit rating is taken into consideration whenever you borrow money, whether it's for buying a car, taking out a mortgage or applying for a credit card. Bad credit can bring you higher interest rates, the need for a co-signer, or a larger down payment on a home - if you even get approved for a mortgage. So monitoring your credit rating is an important financial responsibility.

A credit score is a collection of lender experiences used when issuing credit to a consumer. Your credit score accompanies your credit report. Scores range from 300 to 850 points - the higher the score, the better the applicant's credit quality. Many lenders use credit scores to help them make lending decisions.

Black marks on your credit report can undermine your credit score. What's more, credit bureaus can list negative information for anywhere from 2 to 10 years, and bankruptcies for up to 7 years, depending on the credit agency and the province. Here are some steps you can take to improve your credit score.

Fix errors
: Mistakes happen, and these inaccuracies can lead to the denial of credit. If you find a mistake on your report, notify the credit bureau. The lender in question will be contacted and if the information cannot be verified, it will be removed from your file. Send any paperwork that you may have to the credit bureaus to help your case.

Pay down your debt
: Lenders consider how close you are to the limits on your various cards, how much you owe in proportion to the credit you have available, and the number of credit accounts for which you have outstanding balances.

Stay current
: If you don't pay your bills on time (mortgage payments included), not only will you be charged a late fee, but you may be reported to a credit bureau. Companies have different approaches to deciding when to declare a payment "delinquent" - grace periods vary, if they're even offered - so why take the risk?

Don't look for more credit
: Opening several credit accounts, or even asking for them, in a short period of time raises alarms at credit bureaus and financial institutions, especially when it's done by people who don't have a long-established credit history.

Know the score
: You don't have to wait until you have been denied credit to get a copy of your credit report and score. Order one at any time from one of the two big credit-reporting bureaus listed below.


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