Credit Score Info – this is great data

Below is a good article on credit scores.

Mortgage applications are evaluated on 4 factors. You can think of them as “legs of a chair.” If 1 or 2 legs are shaky it could still stand if the other 2 are strong. Obviously, a 1, 2 or 3 leg chair does not work so well.

The 4 factors are:

  1. Credit report and score – this article is all about this point
  2. Down payment amount and source of funds
  3. Employment history
  4. and Property quality.

There is lots of good info below on #1 and here are the magic percentages that are hard to find:

  • 35% of your score is your debt -to-limit ratio of your existing credit. There are extra points for balances at less than 50% of the max and you slowly lose points as you get up to 75%. Even $1 over limit can cost you 50 points or more.
  • 30% of your score is your repayment history. Ensure you make ALL of your payments on time, even if it is only $10. These are tracked for 7 years so on time payments are super important. Remember to pre-pay if you are going to be away on holiday – this is where most people get caught.
  • Only 10% of your score is based on “credit inquiries.” There is more on that below.
  • The final 25% of your score is based on a few other “things” like:
  1. your credit mix (installment payments like car loans and RRSP loans, and revolving credit like credit cards)
  2. the length of time your that you have had credit – banks like to see 2 years for each to get a good idea of what your long-term behavior is like.
  3. and collections, judgments, other “things”

So … Why is it so important to have a good credit score? 

“When a client is applying for a mortgage, they need to bear in mind that lenders (and in most cases, the insurers as well) put considerable weight on the applicant’s credit score,” explains Leslie Penney, a mortgage professional in St. John’s.

“It’s basically a snapshot of a client’s credit situation at that moment in time, although it also reports on the client’s credit history.” 

Credit scores are determined by using a complex formula and rating scale, says Penney.  Credit rating agencies look at your income, your debt repayment history, your total approved credit limits, your credit usage levels and more and that information is crunched into a scoring system that assigns a number of between 300 and 900. This is known as your FICO score. The higher you are on the scale, the less risky you are to a lender.

For example, says Putnam, a number of 750 to 799 is shared by 27 per cent of the population. Statistics show that only two per cent of the borrowers in this category will default on a loan or go bankrupt in the next two years. So that means that anyone with this score is very likely to get that loan or mortgage they’ve applied for. These scores, which are called beacon scores, may also be used to determine the interest rate you will pay on the loan for which you’re applying.

Credit rating agencies like Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada are typically used in Canada to determine scores. Remember that your credit report or rating is not the same as your credit score, though they’re closely linked. You can get your report or rating from Equifax or TransUnion for free by going to their websites. Equifax now offers a phone based service for free reports without score at 1-800-465-7166. Your credit score will cost you approximately $23 and it will include your credit rating or report. See the appropriate websites for more information. 

Mortgage and credit experts all recommend getting a sneak peek at your credit rating yearly or every two years. The main reasons for this are to ensure that the information the credit bureau has is accurate and to make sure you’re not the victim of fraud. “Because we love to borrow money, that means almost every adult Canadian has a credit file,” explains Putnam. “More than 21 million of us have credit reports. And most of us have no idea what’s in them. Are there mistakes? Have you been denied credit and don’t know why? Is someone trying to steal your identity? A simple check of your credit report will probably answer all those questions.” 

Factors affecting a credit score are paying your bills on time. This one weighs fairly heavily with some estimates as high as 35 per cent, says Tanner Coles, a mortgage expert at Dominion Lending Centres in Surrey, B.C.   “Most of the public is aware that by failing to make debt payments on time or not at all, that will damage their beacon score,” he says.  “I cannot stress enough how important it is to make your payments on time, even if it is just the monthly minimum.  The credit report will show when you have made late payments and how many times.  This is a large red flag for lenders.  They want to see that you are able to pay your debts.  The riskier it is for the lender, the harder it will be for you to obtain a mortgage.” 

Don’t be afraid to use your credit as lenders want to see a history of repayment, says David Larock, an independent mortgage agent in Toronto. But keep your credit card balance well below your account limit. “Most people don’t realize that spending up to their limit every month will hurt their score, even if they pay in full each month,” Larock says. “There are two ways to address this: spend less or get your limit raised. In fact, raising your limit, if you qualify, is one of the easiest ways to help your credit score.” 

Consumers also need to be wary of heavy-duty credit seeking, says Kristian Harris, a mortgage broker with in Toronto. Harris is adamant that consumers should not apply for every credit card that comes their way as this will bode poorly on your rating.  “Unless you absolutely need it, don’t do it,” he warns. “Typically, the ones that need credit are the ones who use it, and they’re the ones who get in trouble.” 

Most credit holders are unaware that your credit is negatively affected every time a company checks your credit, says Coles.  Your score may decrease by a couple points every time you authorize an inquiry.  “This is a major benefit of using a mortgage broker rather than shopping for a mortgage on your own,” he says. “A mortgage broker is able to pull a credit report once and use this report to find you the best product.  A consumer who approaches five different banks about a mortgage will have five different credit inquiries which will hurt their beacon score.  Sometimes this is difference between being able to get a great discounted rate or not.”

Larock thinks borrowers need to be wary of having too many credit lines. A series of small loans can hurt your score because it looks like your cobbling together any credit you can get your hands on and lenders will worry that you could end up in a position where you have borrowed more than you can pay back.

The best way to avoid this is to consolidate your debt into one large loan, he recommends. Negative credit issues can stay on your record for quite a while, depending on what province you live in and the type of issue reported. Three to six years is the average length of time that negative credit information must stay on your record in most provinces.

If you have poor credit, don’t despair, says Harris. Resolve to improve your rating by paying down balances and paying your bills on time. People with exceptionally poor credit need to re-establish their credit by getting a secured credit card. These cards are similar to gift cards as you pay the credit company upfront and then make purchases on it until the balance depletes.

Credit Score info

Credit Score Secrets

by Gail Vaz-Oxlade, for Yahoo! Canada Finance
Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ever wonder how that magical number – The Credit Score – is computed?

Whether you’re obsessing over your FICO score or your Beacon score, you’re likely shopping for credit. The FICO score was developed by Fair Isaac & Co., which began credit scoring in the late 1950s. The point of the score is consolidate your credit profile into a single number. The Beacon score is a brand name used by Equifax, the largest credit-reporting agency in Canada. While Fair, Isaac & Co. and the credit bureaus do not reveal how these scores are computed, whether you get a loan or not is a numbers game: The more points you score on your credit app, the better you do.

There’s a reason you have to fill out so much information when you’re applying for credit. Everything counts. Your age, your address, and even your telephone number all have a role to play in whether or not you’ll get credit.

Young ‘uns and old folk are at a disadvantage since under 21 and over 65 likely means you aren’t working; no points for you. If you’re married, you’ll get a point for being “stable.” And while you might think that being divorced would work against you (all that spousal and child support), most creditors don’t give a whit.

No dependents? Zero points. You’re probably still gallivanting like a teenager since you haven’t yet “settled down.” One to three dependents? Score one point. You’re a solid citizen. More than three dependents? Score zero. Have you no self control! And don’t you know you that with all those mouths to feed you could get in debt over your head?

Your home address counts too. Live in a trailer park or with your parents? Bad risk, score zero points. You could skip town with nary a look over your shoulder. Rent an apartment? Give yourself one point. Own a home with a big fat mortgage and you’ll score major points since someone has already done some checking and you qualified for a mortgage. Own your home free and clear? Even better. You’ve proven you can pay off a sizable debt and now you have a pile of equity that the card company would love to help you spend.

Previous Residence? Zero to five years (some applications only go to three years), score zero points since you move around too much. No land-line: zero points. How the Dickens are they gonna find you when you fall behind in payments. Since they can’t use your cell phone to actually locate you physically, it doesn’t count.
Less then one year at your present employer earns you no points. Again, it’s a stability and earning continuity thing. The longer you’re on the job, the more likely you are to be bored out of your mind but you’ll score more points. And, not to overstate the obvious, the more you make the better.

The more willing you are to make your lender rich, the higher your score will be. Since the FICO score was originally designed to measure customer profitability, if you pay off your balance in full every month, you’re going to score lower than the guy who only makes the minimum payment and pays huge amounts of interest.
Scores range from 300 to 900 and if you manage to hit 750 or above you’ll qualify for the best rates and terms. Score 620 or lower and you’ll pay premium interest if you even qualify; 620 is the absolute minimum credit score for insured mortgages.

Your credit score can change quickly. Payment history accounts for about 35% of your credit score and just one negative report can drop your pristine score into the doldrums. Since scores are updated monthly, your bad behaviour won’t go unpunished for long.

The type of credit you have counts for about 10% of your score. And your current level of indebtedness accounts for about 30% so going too close to your credit limit is another way to deflate your score. One rule of thumb is to keep your balances below the 65% mark. So if you have a limit of $1,000, you won’t ever carry a balance that’s more than $650.

Having too much credit available can also hurt your ability to borrow since the more credit you have, the more trouble you can get yourself into. If you’ve got a walletful of cards, canceling credit you’re not using can be a good thing – for both you and your credit score – over the long haul. Careful though. If the card you’re eliminating is one with a long, positive history, you’ll eliminate what could be a very good record of your repayment when you cancel the card. You’d be better off cutting up the card so you aren’t tempted to use it, while you establish a track record (six months or more) before you actually cancel the account.
Credit shopping can also cost you points. Since about 10% of your credit score relates to the number and frequency of new credit enquiries, applying willy nilly for new credit will end up costing you.  However, it’s only when a lender checks your score that this registers on your score. Checking your own credit report/score is considered a “soft” inquiry and does not go against your score.