MONEY: How to maintain a good credit score


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I recently chatted with someone who only pays their bills online the day they’re due, and wanted to remind you that if you do the same, you risk ruining your future credit.

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Let’s review some facts about your credit. There are two major credit reporting companies that all financial institutions and merchants use today – Equifax and TransCanada Union. These are agencies that rank and assign an overall rating to each person who uses credit.

The system for measuring access to your credit score is indeed intuitive, that is to say, it measures and evaluates the type of merchant and request. So he knows if you shop. If you have multiple inquiries from different banks because you’re shopping for a mortgage, you generally won’t see a drop in your score (however, these inquiries must be contained within 30 days).

The same is true when shopping for a vehicle, as multiple accesses to your credit bureau by car dealerships will not change the score if contained within 30 days.

But, on the other hand, if you really shop and go to different stores, apply for multiple credit cards, personal and retail loans, or purchase items on deferred payment plans , then yes, it will drop your score regardless of the 30-day limit.

I have also heard in the past that some merchants or banks are soft on your credit. Please don’t be fooled by this. There is no “soft hit” or “high hit” to your credit bureau. If they have your verbal consent (even if they don’t have your social insurance number) when adjudicating on a consumer credit application, they will touch your credit and that will adjust your score.

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Above all, you want to protect your credit. It’s the foundation of all loans and it’s the only way lenders can judge your creditworthiness going forward. If you always pay your bills early and have never filed for bankruptcy, chances are you have good credit. But if you are the opposite and your credit score is too low, you may find it very difficult to obtain future credit.

Your credit score can range from 300 to 900. Typically, banks look for customers with a score above 680 and usually automatically decline applications with a score below 600.

Here are some tips for improving your credit and maintaining a good rating.

  • Pay your bills two to three days before they are due. Paying them when due (especially via online banking) will cause you to be one to two days late. This is recorded on your credit bureau and will certainly lower your score and without you knowing it.
  • Don’t carry over credit card or personal loan balances from month to month. This means that your credit is renewable and will automatically lower your score.
  • Resist the urge to have lots of open credit cards, even if they have no balance.
  • You must have credit. If you previously had bad credit and now only use cash, you are essentially handcuffing your future. Without restoring good credit, the banks will turn you down every time.
  • Late property taxes and child support payments can also lower your score once they are reported.
  • Late mortgage and vehicle payments, once reported (which usually happens after 60 days) are a big hit to your score. Please try to avoid this.

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Car leases are another that can lower your score. When your sales rep calls to upgrade your lease and get you into a new vehicle for the same monthly payment – ​​many people think that’s a lot – and it might be. The problem is that the old car lease, because it was not officially paid off and closed, but rather transferred to a new lease and a new vehicle, the old lease remains to your credit. So now it looks like you have two car leases when you only have one.

I once consulted a credit bureau on a client who was getting a mortgage from a major bank and he was repeatedly turned down due to this issue. He had upgraded his vehicle several times and it looked like he had six car leases when he actually only had one. Sure, we solved the problem by going back to the car dealership and asking them to do the leases properly, but for a lot of people, they don’t even know it’s happening to their credit.

Keep a close eye on how creditors use your SIN and consider automatic approvals for special offers and incentives. Banks will need to ask for your SIN when you open accounts or apply for credit, but other organizations may not legally require it. Be careful when giving out your personal information and be sure to ask what it is used for. It is after all your credit and your right to protect yourself.

Good luck and best wishes,

ATML – Christine Ibbotson

Written by Christine Ibbotson, national radio host and author of three books on finance and the Canadian bestseller, How to Retire Debt Free & Wealthy. For more information, visit or send a question to

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