Rachel Surman • Nov 01, 2019
Doing these 5 things can help you get an excellent credit score, according to a new Borrowell study.
Happy Financial Literacy Month! It’s the most wonderful time of the year (in our opinion, anyway). That’s because we’re passionate about empowering Canadians to make great decisions about their personal finances. And November is the perfect time to do so.
Every November in celebration of Financial Literacy Month, we put together a study with information we think will be helpful for our more than one million Canadian members.
This year, we dug deep into the data to find the top five things that all members with an excellent credit score (greater than 740) have in common. We analyzed the factors that make up a credit score and found the percentage of members that share those common traits. This is exciting because now we can give you specific actions and tips to help you improve your credit score! Read on to find out the top 5 things people with excellent credit scores have in common.
The age of your oldest tradeline matters. Tradelines are accounts listed on your credit report, such as a credit card or loan. Our study findings suggest that your oldest tradeline should be greater than two years of age. We know what you’re thinking – and no, we can’t speed up time either! But this is still helpful information to know, so you keep your oldest credit account open.
According to Equifax (the credit bureau Borrowell receives credit scores from), the age of credit history makes up 15% of your credit score. Lenders like to see that you’re responsible with credit and it’s beneficial to have a long history of paying your bills on time.
Key takeaway: If you want to be like the credit greats – think twice about cancelling your oldest credit account.
Paying your bills on time, or having a good payment history, is also important when it comes to having an excellent credit score. In our study, people with excellent credit scores had no missed payments in the last 12 months.
Your payment history makes up a whopping 35% of your credit score – the most out of any other credit score factor category. Banks, lenders and financial institutions like to see that you’re responsible with credit and have a history of paying your bills on time. That’s why we always recommend paying your bills on time (and in full when possible) and for you to have a handle on when your bills are due.
Key takeaway: Try setting up automatic payments or reminders on your phone to avoid making late payments.
Having a good credit mix contributes to having an excellent credit score and different types of credit carry weight in different ways. Our study findings suggest that it’s optimal to have more than two credit products. These products can include a loan, credit card, mortgage, etc. According to Equifax, having diversity within your credit profile makes up for 10% of your overall credit score. Financial institutions like to see a diverse credit profile because it shows you can be responsible with many different types of credit.
Key takeaway: Consider having more than two credit products to improve your credit score if – and only if – it makes sense for you financially.
Our study also found that people with excellent credit scores don’t have any collections items on their credit report. A collections item is any type of financial account that’s been sent to a collection agency if you’ve become delinquent on the payments. These items appear on your credit report – whether the balance(s) have been paid or unpaid – and negatively impact your credit score.
A collections item will stay on your credit report for six years from the date of your past payment. If there isn’t a date of your last payment, it will stay on your credit report 5 years from the date assigned.
Key takeaway: Try your best to avoid any collections items, if at all possible.
Not surprisingly, we also found that people with excellent credit scores don’t have any bankruptcies on their credit report.
Bankruptcies have a big impact on your credit score and will stay on your credit report for six years from the date of discharge. If you weren’t discharged, a bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for seven years from the date filed. These items are damaging to credit health and are weighted heavily in Equifax’s credit score calculation algorithm.
Key takeaway: Financial hardship is, unfortunately, something that too many Canadian families are dealing with. In fact, a recent study published in the National Post found that 53% of Canadians are living paycheque to paycheque. We empathize and recommend doing your best to avoid bankruptcy but ultimately doing what's best for you.
Your credit score is the first step to taking control of your finances. By following the above tips and tricks, you should hopefully see improvement in your credit score over time. If you haven’t already, be sure to check your free credit score and get your free credit report in Canada. Happy Financial Literacy Month from Borrowell!
Note: the data used in this study is reflective of Borrowell’s member base and not all of Canada. Borrowell uses bank-level encryption to keep your data safe. Checking your Canadian credit score is a soft credit inquiry that won’t affect your score.
Borrowell® is a registered trademark of Borrowell Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Equifax credit score is based on Equifax’s proprietary model and may not be the same score used by third parties to determine your credit profile. The score provided to you for educational use is the Equifax Risk Score.
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