A recent article in the Investment Planning Counsel stated that “Only 31% of women feel confident in their financial knowledge”, despite being responsible for 90% of family spending. Women must understand finance, including building strong credit scores, which are crucial for obtaining financing.
YOUR CREDIT SCORE IS YOUR POWER WHEN APPLYING FOR A MORTGAGE
With all the recent mortgage changes, your credit score is more important than ever. Most Lenders rely on the “Equifax” score. Equifax calculates a credit “risk” score out of a maximum score of 900.A score of 700 or higher is considered an excellent score and opens the doors to better interest rates and bank approvals. If you have used Creditkarma.ca or the free credit score report from your bank to find out your score, you are accessing a TransUnion client score based on 6 months of history. While that version of your credit score is not currently used by lenders; it will give you an idea if the status of the accounts showing on your credit bureau are accurate.
Let’s look at the factors that determine your credit score.
1. PAYMENT HISTORY determines about one-third of your score. Even a one-day late payment can negatively influence your score and shows on your bureau for 6 years. It’s more important to pay the minimum payment on time than to pay a larger amount late. Setting up all your accounts on pre-authorized payments for the minimum amount will ensure that you will never have a late payment.
The MOST important credit advice is to avoid having anything sent to COLLECTIONS. No lender will provide a mortgage to someone with an unpaid collection. Each one decreases your score by about 80 points. If you are having a dispute with your cell phone or internet provider, pay the bill and then argue about it later!!!
2. AMOUNT OF CREDIT USED is another large factor in determining your credit score. The more of the credit you have used, the lower your score will be. Keeping your balance under 30% of the total available amount will help your score increase. If you are in a hurry to improve your score, consider calling your credit companies for a limit increase. The secret to this trick is to NOT use the increase once it is applied!!
3. AGE OF YOUR ACCOUNTS is more important than you may be aware. Lenders will want to see at least 2 different kinds of credit established for at least 2 years for a total limit of at least $2,500. If you are considering closing any of your current credit, make sure you never close your oldest credit card. Be aware that if you close an account, your score could drop by almost 100 points!!
4. TYPE OF CREDIT you have affects your score. A combination of credit cards, loans, and lines of credit are desirable. Since Lines of Credit are the most difficult types of credit to acquire and usually offer the lowest interest rate, you may want to make sure you always keep one open for future emergencies.
5. NUMBER OF ENQUIRIES on your credit in the last 36 months will affect your score. Numerous calls looking for credit from different companies are a red flag for lenders and will lower your score.
Jenni MacDonald (www.jmacdonald.ca) is an award-winning Mortgage Broker with Dominion Lending Centres The Mortgage Source (Lic.#10145). She has over 12 years of experience in the Mortgage Industry and works with at least 40 lenders including banks, credit unions, and private lenders to find the best mortgage for each client. You can contact her by phone or text at 613-551-0639 or via email at [email protected]