As one of Ontario’s largest urban areas, the city of London has certainly amassed a huge population of credit users like yourself. And, whether you have a simple credit card in your wallet or a full-blown mortgage on your house, having a healthy credit report and a good credit score are two keys to success.
Bad credit, on the other hand, can be a huge detriment to your financial profile, so it’s essential to act quickly and resolve the issue before things take a turn for the worst.
If you’re looking for credit improvement in London, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading for all the tips and tricks you need to improve and grow your credit.
Studying Your Credit
As mentioned, when it comes to credit improvement in London, there are two elements that you should study up on, known as your credit report and credit score, which are created for you once you start using your first credit product.
While Canada’s main credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion keep slightly different versions of your credit report and credit score on file, the overall goal of those is the same; to track the progress you’ve made as a credit user. When appropriate, they also help you secure new credit products when you apply with lenders in London.
Your credit report is the first thing that the bureaus will compile in your name. Essentially, this is a detailed profile containing various pieces of personal information, such as your:
- Date of birth
- Home Address
- Citizenship Status
- Social insurance number
Your report also features a credit history, which records any credit-related actions you’ve made over the past decade or so, including but not limited to:
- Being approved or declined for new credit products
- Opening, closing and using various credit accounts (credit cards, loans, lines of credit, etc.)
- Paying off or defaulting on any payments related to existing credit products
- Reaching or going over your designated credit limit(s)
- Entering certain debt management procedures (debt settlements, consumer proposals, bankruptcies, etc.)
As well as any relevant information concerning your:
- Applications for new credit
- Credit account ratings
- Previous and current debts
- Accounts in collections
- Non-sufficient funds or bad cheques
- Fraud or identity verification alerts
While the wait time will vary depending on which bureau you check, even something as simple as a missed credit card payment can remain on your credit history for several years before it gets removed. So, it’s important to consider all your credit-related actions carefully before you make them.
Learn how to read your credit report here.
Although they are two separate parts, your three-digit credit score is just as important as your credit report. And, just like your report, many lenders will look at it when you apply for new credit as a way to determine the risk that you’ll complete or default on your potential debt payments in the near future.
Ranging from 300-900, your score is your report’s more basic counterpart but is also used to represent your creditworthiness (what does your credit score range really mean? Click here). The closer your score is to 900, the more healthy your credit is considered. Take a look at the different ranges below if you’d like to know where your credit score stands.
Good Credit (660-900):
If your score falls within this range, it’s generally due to a history of responsible payments and positive credit-related actions. Because good credit equals a good chance that you’ll make payments as agreed, potential lenders will be more inclined to approve you for larger amounts of credit, lower interest rates, and more flexible payment plans.
Moderate Credit (560-659):
If you have active credit products but occasionally miss payments, go over your credit limit, or carry more debt, your score will gradually decline into this range. Since this implies more risk of future default on your part, lenders will begin to approve your for less credit, steeper interest rates, and allow you less negotiating power when it comes to your payment plans.
Bad Credit (300-559):
Unfortunately, this is where your options for credit products will be far more limited and expensive. While a bad credit score can be due to any number of issues, most lenders will assume it’s because you have been and might continue to be irresponsible with your debt. As a result, you may only receive approval from subprime lenders for small loans with very high-interest rates and payment plans that are not adjustable.
What are bad credit lenders looking for when approving applications? Find out here.
Reversing Your Financial Situation
Once again, your bad credit may be due to any number of financial issues, irresponsible habits, or events that are totally unforeseen and out of your control.
- Having outstanding debt for extended periods of time
- Periodically maxing out your credit limits
- Making payments late, short, or missing them entirely
- Applying for too much credit within the same year
- Constantly opening and closing new credit accounts
- Falling victim to a loan scam, fraud, or identity theft
- Not discovering an error within your credit report
- Switching addresses without informing your lender
- Becoming unemployed or experiencing other financial emergencies
- Going through a consumer proposal, bankruptcy or other serious debt management program
No matter what the root cause of your bad credit happens to be, that negative impact will only get worse the longer you let things drag out. So, to avoid any further damage to your credit score/report and receive more positive results when you apply for new credit products, it’s essential to implement more responsible habits.
Good Financial Habits Include:
- Creating a proper budget and tracking your spending patterns
- Earning and saving as much income as you can manage
- Maintaining at least one steady source of employment
- Using and paying off your active credit products wisely
- Asking your lender to adjust your payment plan (if necessary)
- Using no more than 30% – 35% of your available credit limit
- Making minimum payments when you cannot afford full monthly balances (for revolving credit products)
- Making more than one payment per month (also for revolving products)
How to Check Your Credit Report/Score
When it comes to monitoring your credit, one of the best habits you can implement is to check your credit report and credit score at least once per year, which you can do through either Equifax or TransUnion (we suggest checking both versions).
As a matter of fact, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report per year from both bureaus. Although any extra copies would cost a small fee, examining your report regularly is a good way to spot errors, fraud, and identity theft. Even a simple spelling mistake in your name or address could spell disaster for your credit score.
While requesting your credit score will also cost a fee, it’s also a good idea, especially if you’re planning to apply for new credit in the near future. After all, a credit score within the bad or moderate range, though not the end of the world, could lead to less favorable conditions for said product and force you to spend much more in interest than you’re comfortable with.
For more information about having your credit checked, take a look at this article.
Seeking a More Effective Solution
If the basic credit improvement habits above are not working fast enough, it may be time to consider a more drastic alternative. Don’t panic, because there are many different credit building products and programs that you can discover in London, any of which can help you earn a fresh start.
- Debt consolidation loan
- Secured credit card
- Guarantor loan
- Home equity loan
- Home equity line of credit (HELOC)
- Credit counselling
- Debt consolidation program
- Credit rehab savings program
- Debt settlement
Avoiding Credit Repair Scams
It’s true that improving your credit is a very important step, especially in London, where the average cost of living can be quite high and a good credit score can help save you money. However, it’s also essential to remember that you are the only one that can really fix your credit once it’s fallen into the bad range.
Despite the effectiveness of the habits, products, and programs listed above, those solutions are certainly not miracle cures that will automatically reverse the state of your credit score or credit report. Sadly enough, many scam artists are hoping that you won’t realize this and are looking to take advantage of your need for better credit.
One of the easiest ways to spot a scam is when one of these fake services claims they can magically repair your credit in exchange for a fee in advance. Watch out, because no legitimate organization would ever make you this promise or charge you for anything before they’ve actually helped you in some way.
If you are thinking about applying for any of the products or programs listed above, be sure to do lots of research so you can confirm that the company selling them is reputable!
Credit Improvement is Right Around the Corner
Although credit improvement isn’t the easiest thing to obtain, it will definitely be worth the effort in the long run and one of the first steps you can take is to contact Loans Canada. We can connect you with the best credit improvement solutions in London. Call us today or check out our website for more information.