Your credit score is a three-digit number between 300 and 900 that summarizes your financial health using information from your credit report. The higher the score, the more likely you will be accepted for credit like loans, credit cards and mortgages.

Credit score ranges differ slightly depending on whether you use Equifax or TransUnion to check your score.

So what is a good credit score? Let’s take a look at some typical credit score ranges and what they mean.

Poor: 300-559

It will be challenging to get credit, such as a loan or credit card. You must improve your score.

Fair: 560-659

You might be accepted for credit, but you won’t be offered the best products, and you’ll have higher interest rates.

Good: 660-724

Your score is stable, but you can still improve your score further. You’ll get decent interest rates, but your credit limits may be lower.

Very good: 725-759

Your credit score is healthy, and you should be eligible for most prime credit products and traditional mortgages.

Excellent: 760-900

You should be able to access the best credit cards, loans and mortgages at higher credit limits with the best interest rates.

* The scoring system and range used will vary depending on which credit bureau you use. Other factors determine creditworthiness, such as your income.

What impacts your credit score?

Credit scores are calculated using an algorithm that examines your payment history, how much debt you use, the length of your credit history, public records and inquiries in your credit report.

Creditors and lenders will perform a credit check to view your credit score. By doing so, they can determine the risk of offering you credit like a loan or credit card and decide on whether they think you will repay it.

A high score demonstrates that you are a responsible borrower who has a good history of managing credit.

See also: What is a credit score?

Why credit scores go up and down

Your credit score goes up and down based on the financial decisions you make:

  • When you use credit responsibly, your credit score goes up.
  • When you have difficulty managing credit, your credit score goes down.
Your credit score can be like a game of snakes and ladders

What makes your credit score go up?

  • Paying your bills on time.
  • Making multiple payments on time each month.
  • Using less than 30% of your available credit limits.
  • Managing your credit accounts effectively over several years.
  • Using a variety of credit types such as a credit card, loan and mortgage.
  • Applying for credit sparingly.

What makes your credit score go down?

  • Paying your bills late or missing payments altogether.
  • Using more than 30% of your available credit limits.
  • Having a short credit history.
  • Not having a mix of different credit types.
  • Making too many credit applications.
  • Defaulted or closed accounts.
  • Debts sent to collection agencies.
  • Making payments through a consumer proposal or bankruptcy.
  • Errors on your credit report.
  • Too many lenders.

Check your credit report regularly to understand the impact of each of these.

See also: How to increase your credit score

What is a good credit score?

What is a good credit score? It’s a question that isn’t as easy to answer as you may think.

Using Equifax’s credit scoring model, credit scores from 660 to 724 are considered good, meaning you can obtain fair interest rates. Credit scores from 725 to 759 are very good, and 760 and higher are considered excellent.

Your credit score in Canada can range between 300 and 900

These scores will vary on TransUnion credit reports because their scoring model is different. TransUnion describes a good credit score as “one that helps you achieve your goals,” but a good TransUnion credit score is widely regarded as 650 or more, while a score of between 800 and 900 is considered excellent.

TransUnion also uses CreditVision risk scores to provide a more detailed analysis of your financial habits and determine whether you qualify for prime or subprime credit products.

Everyone’s situation is different, and there’s no magic number for credit scores — they are just a guide. Creditors also look at factors like income and employment when reviewing your credit application.

Did you know? The average credit score in Canada is between 650 and 725.

What is a fair credit score?

Using Equifax’s scoring as a guide, credit scores below 660 make it harder to qualify for the best products and rates. Lower scores can result in you being refused credit.

What is a poor credit score?

If you have a credit score below 560, you will likely have difficulty getting credit or find it harder to qualify for favourable terms.

Why do I need a good credit score? Your credit score affects whether you qualify for a loan or a credit card, your ability to buy or rent a home, or whether you are accepted for your dream job.

What is the highest credit score possible?

If you live in Canada, a score of 900 is the highest credit score you can achieve. Although credit scoring models for Equifax and TransUnion differ slightly, that’s the maximum score available.

Common questions about credit scores

Is a credit score of 800 good?

Lenders consider a credit score of 800 as excellent. You are a super-prime borrower, which means that you pose the least risk to lenders and creditors. With this credit score, you should have no problem accessing the best credit products and benefit from lower interest rates, higher credit limits and the best terms.

Is a credit score of 750 good?

A credit score of 750 is very good. You are considered a prime borrower, meaning that a wide variety of competitive credit offers should be available to you.

Is a credit score of 700 good?

A credit score of 700 is good. You are classed as a near-prime borrower that will likely allow you to access credit, but you may have to compromise by accepting a higher interest rate and less flexible terms than a prime borrower.

Is a credit score of 650 good?

A credit score of 650 is good. You are a near-prime borrower, meaning you can typically access credit at a higher interest rate and less flexible terms than a prime borrower.

Is a credit score of 600 good?

A credit score of 600 is fair, you are considered a subprime borrower, and it won’t be easy to access credit products. You may have to make a down payment or provide collateral as security to access credit, and you may have to use alternative lenders.

Is a credit score of 550 good?

A credit score of 550 is poor. You are considered a subprime borrower, and it won’t be easy to access credit from traditional lenders. You might have to look at alternative lenders, who may request a down payment or charge unfair fees. You may also need to provide collateral as security.

Is a credit score of 500 good?

A credit score of 500 is poor. You are considered a subprime borrower, which makes it difficult to access credit from traditional lenders.

What credit score is needed for a house?

In Canada, if you want to be accepted for a traditional mortgage with a prime lender such as a bank, you must have a credit score of at least 600 before you apply. A high score results in a lower mortgage rate, meaning your monthly mortgage payments will be lower.

A lower score will make it extremely difficult and typically limit you to applying for subprime mortgages, resulting in higher rates and less favourable terms.

Lenders want to see a stable credit history where you have managed reputable lines of credit with low balances (under 30% of your credit limit).

It’s also wise to save for a large down payment to benefit from better interest rates.

What credit score is needed for a car?

If you want to benefit from the best car loans with a prime lender, you’ll find that you need a credit score of at least 650. You’ll access more favourable terms with lower interest rates, flexible payment terms and low down payments.

Even if you have poor credit, there are other options available to you. Canadians with bad credit can access subprime lenders, but this usually means higher rates and limited terms. Sometimes a down payment or a co-signer may also be required, but this can lower your interest rate.

There are few things you must consider when researching car loans. First, look for a low fixed interest rate because this affects your monthly payment. A high-interest loan will be harder to manage, and if you default, it will damage your credit even further.

Secondly, you need to know where to look for a competitive car loan. Talk to your bank or financial institution first.

Banks usually offer the most competitive interest rates as a prime lender, especially if you have other credit products with them. However, you need a good credit score to be accepted. Once you’ve researched the banks, compare these rates with car dealers.

If you have bad credit, auto brokers work closely with car dealerships and private lenders and specialize in finding loans for people looking to rebuild their credit.

What credit score is needed for a credit card?

There’s no specific score required to be approved for a credit card in Canada. Some credit cards are designed for building credit, others are premium cards with high limits, so it depends on what type of card you are applying for.

A credit score of 650 or more will give you the best chance of being approved for a credit card. If you fall below this score, you may qualify for cards marketed towards rebuilding your credit.

Credit card companies also look at other factors, such as your employment and how much debt you owe. Typically, you must be employed or have a source of income to qualify for a credit card.

The simplest way to ensure you qualify for a credit card is to build up your credit history by making payments on time and building a solid credit history, which improves your credit score.

If you have difficulty being approved for a credit card, talk to your financial institution about a secured credit card. With a secured credit card, you get all the benefits of a regular credit card, except you must put down a cash deposit.

Your deposit usually determines your credit limit. So, if you deposit $400, you’ll most likely have a limit of $400.

What credit score is needed for a loan?

In Canada, personal loans with a traditional lender such as a bank or a financial institution require a credit score of at least 650. Anything lower will probably result in your application being denied. At best, you will be accepted with a higher interest rate.

Qualifying for a loan depends on several factors:

Your credit score

Lenders look at your credit score to help decide whether to approve your loan. If you have a low score, work on improving your credit score before you apply.

Additional criteria

Lenders may also use your income, expenses and employment to determine eligibility.

Choosing a secured or unsecured loan

To be accepted for an unsecured loan, you must have a fairly good credit score. If you don’t, secured loans can have lower interest rates, but they require you to put up collateral, such as property or a vehicle, to get the loan. Be aware that if you don’t pay back a secured loan, the lender could take ownership of the asset you use as collateral.

Choosing a lender

Knowing your credit score allows you to establish what type of loans are accessible to you. If you have a good score, you can access prime lenders — traditionally, banks and financial institutions offer the best loans at the most competitive rates. If you have a poor score, you may have to turn to a lender where the rates and terms aren’t as attractive. That being said, there are many alternative lenders out there who may suit your needs. It’s recommended to avoid payday loans.

Beware of predatory tactics when deciding on a loan. Be wary of unfair fees, rates and payments.

What credit score is needed to rent an apartment?

When you are renting a property in Canada, landlords perform a credit check to determine your creditworthiness. This helps them predict whether you will make your rent payments on time.

Typically, a credit score of at least 600 will be enough to rent an apartment. Simply put, the higher your credit score, the easier it is to rent an apartment in Canada.

Rental credit checks: what renters need to know

Landlords will look at your entire credit report to check how you’ve made payments in the past and check for any negative information.

If you have poor credit, the landlord may request a guarantor with good credit. This means that a guarantor is liable to pay the rent if you don’t. You might also consider a co-signer with good credit.

Even if you have poor credit, always be honest and explain the reasons to your landlord. Sometimes, if you can meet the other requirements and offer to pay a larger deposit, you could be accepted.

Here’s a tip: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation recommend that you check your credit before visiting a rental property. By doing so, you know in advance if you are likely to be accepted as a tenant.

Does renting improve your credit score?

For some Canadians, making rent payments on time can help build their credit. Landlord Credit Bureau has partnered with Equifax to allow landlords and property managers to report rent payments to credit reports. So, any landlord who uses this service ensures their tenants are rewarded for making payments on time, which is a win-win for everyone.

To determine if your payments are being reported, ask your landlord whether they are part of the initiative. Note that only Equifax credit scores will see the benefit.

Can credit score affect car insurance?

Throughout Canada, there are different underwriting rules for insurance companies using your credit score:

Alberta: Insurance companies must ask for consent before looking at your credit score, and you can decline.

British Columbia: The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) doesn’t use credit scores as part of their underwriting criteria (regulated by the provincial government).

Manitoba: Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) doesn’t use credit scores as part of its underwriting criteria (regulated by the provincial government).

New Brunswick: no rules against using credit scores, but it’s not common.

Newfoundland and Labrador: Insurance companies cannot use your credit score.

Nova Scotia: Insurers can ask for your credit score in return for a better rate.

Ontario: Insurance companies cannot use your credit score.

Prince Edward Island: no rules against using credit scores, but it’s not common.

Quebec: no rules against using credit scores, but it’s not common.

Saskatchewan: Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) doesn’t use credit scores as part of their underwriting criteria, but you might need a credit check for additional coverage through a private company.

Source: Financial Post: Does your credit score affect your car insurance rate in Canada?

What is a good credit score for my age?

For any age, a credit score of 650 or higher is generally considered good. According to the Equifax Canada Generational Study, the average credit scores by age group are as follows:

Age Average credit score
18-25 692
26-35 697
36-45 710
46-55 718
56-65 737
65+ 750

The study results suggest that credit scores increase with age, which makes sense as we make more responsible purchase habits as we get older. Important decisions like taking out a mortgage or buying a car improve the variety of credit you use, consequently establishing a positive credit history and boosting your credit score.

When you have assets like a property, there’s more to lose by not managing your finances responsibly, which may explain why credit scores are stronger with age.

What is the average credit score in Canada?

According to the 2019 Canadian Financial Capability Survey, the average Canadian credit score is between 650 and 725.

Conclusion

Credit score ranges categorize your score into five categories: poor, fair, good, very good and excellent. Your score determines what credit products you qualify for.

The only question that remains is, do you know your credit score?

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