If you don’t currently know your credit score, you might want to change that.
It’s important to know what your number is, as this number is used to decide how creditworthy you are should you apply for a mortgage or a car loan or even another credit card.
The number changes with every billing cycle, so you can check it monthly if you’re currently trying to build up your credit.
Those with high scores are able to secure larger loans at lower interest rates because they’ve proven they can be trusted to pay on time.
It’s also important because when you check your score you can also check your credit report.
Regularly scanning your credit report will alert you to any inaccurate information that could be negatively affecting your score.
Criminals use identity theft to open up credit cards and take loans out in your name, and your report will show you if this has happened, allowing you to report it.
You can also call the company to correct this information, and your score will be adjusted.
There are two main credit reporting agencies that provide this information, and either one will give you a baseline understanding of where your score stands.
1. Equifax or TransUnion
These days, it’s easy to instantly access your score and your report from either one.
Just input your information into the system online, pay the fee (your score and your report have separate fees) and they will send the information instantly, giving you access to it for a period of time usually.
Alternatively, you can access your report for free the old-fashioned way, via providing two pieces of ID and proof of address over fax or snail mail, and waiting for the report to be mailed out.
Another note to keep in mind–if you’ve checked your score from both companies, you might have noticed the scores tend to be different.
As two separate entities, they weigh different factors with more or less importance.
Your credit score is determined based on a few key factors – how much credit you have, your credit utilization, the number of hard credit checks on your record and your payment history.
2. Third-Party Services
The process for checking your score directly through Equifax and TransUnion can be tedious (and costly) if you were to do it regularly.
This has led to the proliferation of third-party platforms that allow you to quickly and easily keep up with your score.
Borrowell sends an email anytime your Equifax score changes, allowing you to monitor the ups and downs and directly follow along to see how your frequent on time payments are increasing your score.
It also provides a graph of your score so you can monitor how it has fluctuated over time.
These apps also provide tips and helpful, easy to digest information that allow you to understand how scoring works and how to quickly increase your score.
If you can avoid the ads for credit cards and products they want you to buy (this is how they are able to offer your score and report free), it can be a simple way to keep up with and grow your score.
It’s also important to note which agency the app is pulling from, as it will either be Equifax or TransUnion—and as noted, these scores can be different.
Ideally you want to know what your score is from both agencies to get the most accurate picture.
Did You Know?
Credit scores range from 300 to 900, with the average credit score in Canada, according to TransUnion, being 650. A “good” credit score is considered between 660 and 724. A “very good” score is between 725 and 759. A score above 760 is considered “excellent.”
3. Online Banking for RBC & Scotiabank Customers
In recent years, the big banks have realized how much customers want to freely and easily access their score, and they’ve teamed up with an agency to provide access right from within your own online banking dashboard.
RBC, Scotiabank and BMO all provide free access to your TransUnion credit score from within their online platform, and it is likely that the others will follow suit.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Does checking your credit score lower it?
Credit checks through your bank or third-party apps do not affect your credit score as they are considered “soft” checks, so you are in the clear to check as often as you want to.
It is only when you are opening a new credit card, applying for a mortgage or a loan, that a “hard” credit check is done—which does temporarily lower your score. Someone will ask you to authorize this before it is done.
- Is there a free way to check your credit score?
Third party apps such as Borrowell, CreditKarma and Mogo all offer access to your score and report for free.
The major banks—including RBC, Scotiabank and BMO—also allow access to TransUnion scores for free from within their online banking platforms.
Equifax and TransUnion allow limited free access to your report via mail, but charge for instant online access—though TransUnion does make an exception, allowing free instant access to your report just once per year. They both charge a fee to provide your credit score.