Tuesday, March 1, 2016

12 Tips for Your Credit

Your credit is a crucial part to buying a home, qualifying for a mortgage. It affects the strength of your overall application, your interest rate potentially and more. Here are 12 tips to maintaining or building a strong credit bureau/score.

  1. Never let your balance be more than 50% of your limit
  2. It isn't just your score that is important. Having established credit for min 2 years, min $2000-3000 limit and at least two active credit cards is the key! 
  3. If you are just starting out build your credit up slowly, start with a $500-1000 card, in 6 months ask for an increase and then again, until you get the limit to $2500 or so. 
  4. Student loans, cell phones and mortgages DO NOT help build your credit. They are reported on your bureau but if you do not have active loans and credit cards you will not have established credit. 
  5. All items sent to collections, including cell phones and parking tickets, will have a negative affect on your credit and will need to be paid out in full before you can get a mortgage. 
  6. Taxes owing to CRA will show up as a judgement on your bureau, which is just as bad as having a bankruptcy judgement on your bureau. 
  7. What you don't have you will lose! Old credit cards that are inactive are a bad thing. Ensure you keep your cards active by using them for a small purchase every 3-6 months. Some banks even charge inactive fees on credit cards not being used. 
  8. Joint credit - this is NOT a good way to build credit. It is ok to have a joint card to use for family expenses if you also have your own credit established. Joint accounts are bad as they do not always show up on both bureaus and if you split up or someone passes away who is the primary cardholder that account will be closed.
  9. Applying for credit lowers your score. Do not apply for credit unless it is needed. Ie. Do not apply for a credit card to get a free gift. 
  10. Closing your credit accounts lowers your credit score. If you close an account that was opened in the last 6-12 months it could quickly lower your credit score by 100 points or more. 
  11. Missing payments is very damaging to your credit. Always ensure you pay your credit card minimum payments on time. Easy way to do this is set up an automatic payment from your bank account to your credit card each month. Ideally you want to pay your card off in full each month so you never incur interest.
  12. Pay your credit cards biweekly, so the balance reporting to Equifax is not high.