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Your credit score explained

Your credit score explained

Posted on: June 15, 2012
Author: Staff

Credit bureau, credit rating, and credit score all mean the same thing. (Confusing, we know.) Thankfully, the way your credit score is calculated is pretty straightforward.

Here's a breakdown of the good, bad, and costly habits that affect your credit score:

  1. Past repayment history (35%)

    Your past repayment history includes issues of late payments, past-due accounts, bankruptcies, and wage attachments. Wage attachments are an involuntary transfer from your paycheque to repay a debt. You should avoid all these issues if you can.

  2. Amount of credit owing (30%)

    A balance that approaches your credit limit negatively affects your credit score, as does going over your card limit. The more wiggle room you have, the better.

    Also, making regular purchases with your credit card establishes a positive usage history.

  3. Length of time credit has been established (15%)

    The longer you hold a credit product like a credit card, the better relationship you have with your credit card company. And the better relationship you have with your credit card company, the better your credit rating.

  4. Search for and acquisition of new credit (10%)

    When you apply for credit, credit agencies interpret that you need to fill a financial need. If you are constantly applying for credit, it negatively affects your score.

    Equifax recommends that you should obtain your credit report once a year to make sure your credit history is accurate.

  5. Types of credit established (10%)

    Credit products like credit cards, store accounts, instalment loans, and mortgages are classified differently and affect scores in different ways.

    This is a small component of your score, so don't worry if you don't have accounts in each of these categories. In other words, don't open new accounts just to increase your credit mix.

While you should aim to do the right things in each of these categories, it's most important to focus on the first two: paying your bills in full and on time, and staying below your credit limit. Commit yourself here and you should see your credit score start to improve.