What is a credit report?
Credit bureaus store and maintain information about your borrowing and repayment habits in a detailed file - your credit report. This report can contain information such as personal identification, your credit history, public records with an effect on your credit and a list of parties you have authorized to access this information. The purpose of this report is to establish a standardized and objective credit rating for you.
What is a credit rating?
A credit rating is a measure of how dependable you are in repaying your debts. Most credit-reporting agencies will give you a rating on a scale of 1 to 9, others will assign letters corresponding to the type of credit you're using. For example, a rating of "1" means you pay your bills within 30 days of the due date, while a rating of "9" can mean that you never pay your bills at all.
An "R" rating is also included in your credit score. This rating is assigned by lenders based on your past history of borrowing and paying off debts, and it can range from 1 through 9. An R1 rating is the best, meaning you pay your debts on time, within 30 days, and an R9 is the worst.
Your credit rating is not established by the government or by financial institutions - it is established by you. If you don't pay your bills on time or fail to repay a loan, you may be reported to a credit bureau.
Credit can be one of your most valuable personal assets. When not properly managed, it can impact your ability to borrow later in life.
What is a credit score?
A credit score is a numeric figure that represents your credit risk at a particular point in time. The credit-reporting agencies, Equifax and TransUnion, use a scale from 300 to 900. The higher your score, the lower the risk for the lender, so it's easier to get approved for a new loan.
Factors that influence your credit score include:
- Payment history - the most important, makes up 35% of your credit score
- The amount of credit you owe - too much or too little credit owed can negatively impact your score
- Length of credit history - the score tends to get better with time
- Types of credit used - the more diverse the credit, the better the score; you can have revolving credit (line of credit or credit card), instalment credit (car loan), or mortgage
- New credit - your overall credit score will change every time you apply for and get new credit
How do I find out what my credit rating is?
Contact one of Canada's credit bureaus to receive a copy of your credit report by mail, free of charge. For a fee, you can also view your credit report online.
For more information, contact one of the credit bureaus directly at:
How do I establish a good credit rating?
The easiest way to establish a good credit rating is to pay your bills on time. If you don't have a credit card, apply for one, and use it responsibly. If you make your minimum payments, you can develop a good credit history. This will have a positive impact on your ability to borrow in the future.
To find out more about establishing credit, talk to a CIBC advisor.