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Why Isn’t My Credit Score Showing Up?
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There are several ways to check your credit score in Canada. Most consumers will do it the standard way by checking with one or both of the country’s main credit bureaus. If not, there are many financial websites that can now provide you with a basic free or low-cost version of your credit score.
The only problem is that there are some instances where your credit score might not show up when you go to check it. If that’s recently been a problem for you, we have all the information you need.
What is a Credit Score?
Before we talk about why it’s not showing up, let’s start with a quick explanation of what your credit score is. Essentially, it’s a three-digit number that’s created when you activate your first credit product. For the average Canadian consumer, this credit score ranges from 300 to 900 and will increase or decrease according to how you use your first and any subsequent credit products, as well as how you pay down debts you take on.
Why Would Someone Else Look At Your Score?
Banks, credit unions, and other lenders will often look at your credit score when you apply for new credit products. A potential landlord might also ask to check your score because it’s an easier way for them to assess whether or not you’ll be able to pay your rent regularly.
No matter who looks at it, the basic principle is that the closer your credit score is to 900, the less risky you’re considered as a possible client. As such, you’ll have a better chance of being approved for a favourable amount of credit, a lower interest rate, and a better repayment term.
Unfortunately, the lower your score is, the less creditworthy you’ll be and the more your credit products will cost overall, especially if the decrease in your score was due to irresponsible payment habits. Your score can also drop as a result of identity theft, an unresolved mistake on your credit report, or even applying for new credit too often. These discrepancies are why it’s a good idea to check your credit score periodically.
Canadian Credit Score Ranges
How Is a Credit Score Calculated?
Essentially, your credit score is a numerical value that summarizes how you behave as a credit user. To calculate and adjust your score, credit bureaus typically use the following system, which takes various aspects of your credit usage into account:
Payment History (35%)
The largest percentage of your credit score’s calculation varies according to your payment habits. If you make payments on time and in full amounts, your credit score will remain closer to 900. However, every payment you’re late on, short on, or miss completely will decrease your score toward the 300 mark.
Outstanding Debts (30%)
The more credit you’re using, the more debt you owe, and the lower your credit score will get because of it. Obviously, this is a particular problem with fixed credit products, like loans, because missing set payments cause a rapid decline in your score. If you have a revolving credit account, such as a credit card maxing out your available limit on a regular basis can negatively affect your credit score.
Credit History (15%)
When you first start using credit, you’ll usually have a lower credit score, partly because you don’t have much credit history. In fact, the longer you use a credit product responsibly, the more your score will increase (and vice versa). Plus, new lenders may examine your history to see how good you’ve been at making payments in the past.
New Credit (10%)
Using several credit products responsibly can be healthy for your score. However, it’s not a great idea to consistently apply for, activate, and cancel credit accounts. That’s because every time a potential lender checks your credit, a hard inquiry will appear on your credit history for up to 3 years. Not only can a lot of recent hard inquiries indicate that you might have a spending problem, each one decreases your credit score slightly.
Account Types (10%)
It’s also good for your score to add some variety to your credit accounts. Although one or two credit cards will gradually do the trick, the results will be more apparent once you throw a car loan, personal loan, or line of credit into the mix. Again, this will only be effective if you’re spending and paying your debts wisely.
Where Can You Find Your Credit Score?
Once your first credit product is activated, most lenders will inform at least one of Canada’s two main credit bureaus; Equifax and/or TransUnion. Each of those bureaus will then build a credit report in your name. After you’ve used the product for several months, you’ll be able to examine this document, as well as your credit score.
Your credit report contains all your credit accounts and related actions for the past few years and you’re entitled to one free copy annually (extra copies cost a small fee). You can also request your credit score for an additional fee (separately or at the same time).
As mentioned, there are also a number of websites where you can see a basic version of your credit score. Sometimes it’s free for members, other times you’ll be charged for it. Whatever method you choose, it’s best to check your credit at least once or twice a year to make sure there are no issues dragging your credit score down.
Why Isn’t My Credit Score Showing Up?
Although everyone’s credit profile is somewhat different, here are the 5 most common reasons why your credit score might not show up when you check it:
- You Don’t Use Enough Credit Products
If you’re not actively using credit products, your credit report might be too thin and the bureau won’t generate your score. While you can get your credit history started with a standard credit card, it may be easier to qualify for a secured credit card, which requires a deposit and can prevent you from overspending.
- A Computer Error or Glitch Has Occurred
That said, your credit score might not be appearing because of a simple error or glitch in the credit bureaus’s reporting system (or the third party score provider you’re using). If this is the case, it’s important that you get in contact with the credit bureau to discuss the issue.
- It’s Your First Credit Product
As you know, it can be a few months before you’re able to view your credit report. The same can be said about new credit accounts you open, no matter what product you apply for first. In fact, most credit bureaus will not even create your credit score until you’ve used a product for six months minimum. This is common for young credit users and new residents to Canada.
- The Credit Bureau Makes An Error
If you check your credit with Equifax or TransUnion, it’s possible your score might not show up due to a glitch in their system or an error on your credit report, such as the wrong address or Social Insurance Number. Though it doesn’t happen often, another report might also have been opened in your name accidentally. Any of these incidents can prevent the bureau from creating your score, so it’s important to inform the both bureaus immediately if you discover one.
- Your Old Account Has Expired
Unfortunately, if you don’t use a credit account at least once every few months, a credit bureau may close it and, as a result, your credit score won’t be generated. For instance, later in life, most of your major debts, such as your mortgage, will hopefully be paid off. As such, it’s easy to forget about old credit cards or lines of credit. Don’t worry, all you need to do is start using the account again or, if it’s expired, make a quick call to your lender to have it reactivated.
When it comes to checking your credit score, it’s important to create a habit out of it. Checking at least once a year can help you track your financial health and prepare your finances for future events, like purchasing a home. Furthermore, when you check your credit on a regular basis you can catch error and issues and report them to the appropriate bureau.
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