How to improve your credit score?

The Ultimate Guide to Credit Scores in Canada

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Last updated on November 18, 2022 Comments: 77

What is a credit score? A credit score is a 3-digit number that allows lenders to determine a potential borrower’s credit risk—the risk they run of not paying back their credit cards or loans. Canadians typically cannot borrow money or receive credit of any kind unless they have a solid credit score. Canada’s two national credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion, create credit scores and credit reports based on the information they receive about each borrower from their lenders.

What Is the Credit Score Range Canada Uses?

Canada operates with a credit score range between 300 and 900. The lower your score, the less likely you are to be approved for a credit card or loan. If you do manage to qualify for a credit card or loan despite a low score, the interest rate you receive will likely be high.

Conversely, the higher your credit score, the more likely you are to be approved for a credit card or loan, and the lower the interest rate will likely be. Good credit can also help you rent an apartment, get a better job, get approved for insurance coverage at a lower premium and get a better plan for your cable, phone or utilities.

*Please Note: credit score ranges are taken from the Equifax scoring model. Ranges are subjective and can vary by credit bureau and credit issuer.

Excellent (800-850)

Consumers with excellent credit will likely have no or very few late payments in their credit report, will regularly pay off their balances in full, and will have a low credit utilization across all their lines of credit. Those with excellent credit enjoy rapid approval for their credit card and loan applications, as well as the lowest interest rates available, high credit and loan limits, and access to premium credit card benefits. In other words, all the financial doors are open to Canadians with excellent credit scores and banks roll out the red carpet to get their business. The median credit score in Canada is 749, which means 50% of the population has excellent credit.

Very Good (740-799)

This credit score level reflects borrowers who are financially responsible: Canadians who sit in this credit score range rarely make late payments and their credit utilization is likely low. Those with good credit scores are typically rewarded with low interest rates on loans, and are likely to qualify for most of the upper-tier cashback and rewards cards available, with perhaps the exception of some premium cards, which may require scores in the excellent strata.

Good (670-739)

Those on the mid to lower end of the average range have probably made multiple late payments to more than one lender and may have defaulted on a loan at some point. This kind of an uneven credit history means you will likely be offered relatively high interest rates from lenders, though an average credit score will at least qualify you for some worthwhile unsecured credit cards.

Fair (580-669)

Borrowers with below average credit will face higher interest rates for the lines of credit they are approved for, which can cost quite a bit of money over time. They also are not eligible for the more lucrative credit cards that provide accelerated levels of cash back and rewards.

Poor (300-579)

Borrowers in this credit score range may have defaulted on multiple loans, have combined debt very close to their overall credit limit (a high credit utilization ratio), or may have declared bankruptcy, which stays on your credit report for at least seven years. In this credit score range you will have a difficult time obtaining standard credit cards or loans, though you can improve your credit score by responsibly repaying credit extended to you via a secured credit card or a special loan for those with bad credit.

What Is a Credit Report?

What is a credit report

While a credit score is a simple shorthand for your creditworthiness, a credit report is a more complete overview of your financial history, and it’s one of the major tools a lender uses in determining whether or not to give you credit. Contained within your credit report is key identifying information like your address and social insurance number, your payment history with your creditors, a record of bankruptcies or any court judgments that would affect credit worthiness, a list of lenders or other parties that were authorized to look into your credit, and any banking or collections information.

Canadians are entitled to one free credit report per year (called a Consumer Disclosure) from either Equifax or TransUnion. Click here to apply for your free credit report from Equifax by mail, and click here to receive your free credit report from TransUnion either by mail or online. If you can’t wait a year for your free report from the credit bureau, Borrowell, a Canadian financial technology company and credit monitoring service, can give you free access to your credit score any time. I reached out to Borrowell’s CEO, Andrew Graham, to get his thoughts on the value of this new offering.

“Borrowell has recently launched free credit report monitoring. For the first time, Canadians are able to monitor important information in their Equifax credit report on a monthly basis for free online,” said Graham.

“Now more than ever, Canadians should keep a close eye on their credit and personal finances. We were proud to be the first company in Canada to offer consumers free access to their credit scores. This is a logical next step for us and gives our users a much deeper look into their overall credit profile, the same data used by many lenders, banks, cell phone providers and landlords.”

If you receive your credit report and discover any inaccuracies, inconsistencies, incomplete information or signs of fraud, you can dispute the information with the credit bureau.

What Is a Credit Rating?

A credit rating is a rating listed by some  credit reporting agencies. It is an individual rating of each of your credit history’s items detailing the type of credit being used and how quickly payments are made. The ratings for each item on your credit history are expressed on a scale of 1-9: “1” means you paid your bill within 30 days of its due date and “9” means you never paid your bill or that you’ve made a debt repayment proposal with the lender.

Along with the number, you will see a letter assigned to each credit rating. The letter stands for the type of credit being used. There’s “I” for instalment (e.g. a car loan), “O” for Open (e.g. a student loan) and R for revolving (e.g. a credit card).

What Factors Influence a Credit Score the Most?

Credit Score Factors

There are many factors that influence a credit score positively or negatively. Equifax and TransUnion both have slightly different formulas for determining scores, but there are a few shared considerations evaluated above all else:

Payment History – 35%

Payment history is the most important factor influencing your credit score. Lenders want to see how likely you are to pay back the credit they are about to give you, and they figure it out by looking at how/whether or not you paid back your other loans and consumer credit.

Your payment history shows all of your consumer debt except for mortgages. It details whether you’ve paid each debt as agreed, whether payments have been deferred, whether the debt has been paid off entirely, whether payments have been late or whether you have any payments in collections. Bankruptcy filing and liens against you also fall into this category.

While the exact number of points that your credit score drops for each of the above infractions is shrouded in secrecy, a general rule is that the higher your credit score is to begin with, the more points you will lose for poor payment incidents. However, if your credit score is already low, you won’t lose as many points from new negative behaviors. For example, if your credit score is 780 and you have your first 30-day late payment, your score can drop 90-110 points (more if it’s over 30 days late).  However, if your credit score is 680 and this is your third late payment, your score will only drop 60-80 points. Similarly, a foreclosure means a credit score falls 140-160 points if your original credit score was 780, but falls only 85-105 if your original credit score was 680.

More recent payment history has a greater impact on your score, and more distant payment history has a lesser impact.

Credit Utilization – 30%

Credit utilization refers to the amount of credit that you are using relative to the amount that is allotted to you. For instance, if you have a credit card with a $1000 credit limit, and you have a balance of $200 on that card, it’s a 20% credit utilization.

A widely-regarded rule of thumb is to keep your total credit utilization across all credit products lower than 30%.

Length of Credit History – 15%

Creditors like to see that you’ve had credit history for a long time, and that you’ve used credit consistently. Those who have short credit history, or who haven’t regularly used the credit they were allotted, are seen as being at greater risk of defaulting on their balances.

Soft and Hard Credit Checks – 10%

A ‘soft check’ occurs when you check your credit score, or when anyone else reviews your credit history for non-lending purposes. It does not negatively affect your credit score.

A ‘hard check’, on the other hand, occurs every time you apply for a credit card or loan. Having too many hard checks in your credit history during a short period of time can negatively affect your credit score (knocking it 7-10 points). A large number of applications for credit products can signal financial difficulty to your creditors and make them suspect you of “credit shopping.”

Diversity of Credit – 10%

Diversity of credit shows lenders how many types of credit products you have in your credit history. The more diverse your credit history – showing a variety of responsibly-used credit types like loans, credit cards and lines of credit – the better. Credit diversity with payments made on time shows lenders you’re responsible with all types of credit, which makes them more apt to lend to you.

Total Payment Ratio

Though not officially part of credit score calculations yet, credit bureaus are now beginning to look at a new factor called a Total Payment Ratio (TPR). TPR has been a consideration on TransUnion’s credit reports since 2015. Do you generally pay the minimum? Do you generally pay significantly above the minimum? Or do you typically pay off your balance in full? These are the questions that your TPR answers: how much do you pay and how consistently do you pay it?

While TPR shows up on TransUnion’s credit reports, the Globe and Mail has reported that neither credit bureau is as of yet factoring in TPR when calculating credit actual credit scores. This may change in the future.

How to Increase Your Credit Score

Negative information can stay on your credit report for at least seven years. If you have negative factors in your history you need to counter them with positive steps toward repairing your score. And there’s no time like the present, right? We advise you to start by focusing on these key steps:

Pay Your Bills Consistently and On Time

Pay your bills each month by the due date. Late payments can really bring down your credit score, so set up automatic payments to never miss your deadline. If you pay with online banking, make sure you pay a few days in advance of the deadline to ensure the payment is processed in time.

Reduce Your Credit Utilization

Try to pay off your credit card balances and other debts so you are only using a portion of the credit you have available: 75% is a start, 50% is better and 30% and below is best. It should take about a month for your credit score to rebound (reportedly between 40-80 points) after reducing your utilization to below 30% and keeping it that way, provided there aren’t any more strikes against you (like late payments).

Resist Credit Inquiries Unless Absolutely Necessary

Make sure credit inquiries aren’t being made on your credit report on a regular basis. Soft credit checks—those in which you or a prospective landlord or employer look at your score—don’t affect your credit score. But hard credit checks, like when you want to increase a credit limit or apply for a credit product or loan, always do. You can learn more about the difference between the two inquiries by reading our in-depth article on the effect of checking your credit score.

Some Canadians rack up cash back and rewards points by engaging in “credit churn,” a practice where applicants apply for credit cards to take advantage of sign-up bonuses offered in the first few months and then cancel these cards when the bonus period expires. But this practice is unkind to your credit score, as each time you apply for a new card it can take up to ten points off.

Correct Misinformation and Update Old Information

Take advantage of the annual free credit report application and get your copy. Not only will it tell you whether your credit score is low or high, but it will let you know if there are any open credit lines that shouldn’t be there (perhaps indicating fraud) and if there is any negative information there that’s older than seven years that simply hasn’t been removed. According to Borrowell, there’s also a statistical correlation between regularly monitoring your credit report and improving your score.

“A recent study we conducted found a positive relationship between the frequency of credit score monitoring and credit score increase over time. Drawing from user data, we found that customers with lower initial scores at sign-up tended to improve their scores the most – by as much as 30 points among engaged users. In short, Borrowell users that monitor their scores more frequently see the largest increase in their scores,” says Borrowell CEO Andrew Graham.

Once you review your credit report, work to get misinformation removed if anything is in collections: work to pay off the amount owed and ensure that the collections agency will remove that from your credit report as soon as they receive the owed amount. Get the agency’s guarantee in writing, and then check your credit report at a later date to make sure it reflects the hard work you’ve put in to clean it up. Only what is true should remain.

Do Not Close Paid-Off Credit Cards Right Away

Do Not Close Paid-Off Credit Cards Right Away

When you do pay off your debt, resist the urge to close your credit accounts right away, because keeping paid-off credit products open can keep your credit utilization low.

Think of it this way: Let’s say you have two credit cards, each with a $1,000 credit limit. One has a balance of $500, and the other a balance of $0. This means you are using $500 out of $2000 in credit, which works out to a strong 25% utilization. But the moment you close your $1,000 credit card with the $0 balance, suddenly you’re down to a $500 balance on the remaining $1,000 card, which doubles your utilization to 50%. Before closing the paid-off credit card you were well below the recommended credit utilization ratio of 30%, but after closing it you jumped above it.

Build Credit by Exiting Consumer Proposal

If you’ve had overwhelming credit issues, negotiating a consumer proposal can help you get out of debt while only paying back a portion of your overall debt. This process is expensive and will severely lower your credit score. You can remain in consumer proposal for a maximum of five years, but you can exit it early and start rebuilding your credit score sooner by applying for a consumer proposal loan. This loan will pay off your creditors and allow you to exit consumer proposal, and you’ll begin rebuilding your credit score as you make regular payments on the loan.

Get Help With Some Tools

In this digital age, we are lucky to have some great solutions to our most pressing problems, including our credit score. Tools like KOHO’s Credit Builder, which costs between $7-$10 a month for 6 months, and offers an interesting approach to reporting payments to credit bureaus on your behalf, and MyMarble by Marble Financial which offers a comprehensive suite of solutions and educational resources to provide you with a more long term plan, can help put you in the right direction.

Use Promo Code GREEDY30 to get a free 1-month trial of MyMarble Premium!

Don’t Be Afraid of a Fresh Start

Consult a credit counsellor before engaging in bankruptcy proceedings—such a move can damage your credit for seven years and very few creditors will lend to you during that time. However, if you do take this drastic step, know that you can rebuild your credit with a secured card. This is a credit card requiring an upfront deposit that makes up your credit balance, but still gets reported to credit bureaus to help you re-establish your credit and eventually go back to an unsecured card.

Have a credit-related question that we didn’t answer in this guide? Leave us a comment below or shoot us an email and we’ll do our best to answer any inquiry you might have about credit scores, reports, ratings, and more.


Recommended Read: How Many Credit Cards Should I Have?

Author Bio

Aaron Broverman
Aaron Broverman is a freelance writer based in Toronto. When he’s not writing about money for publications like Yahoo Canada and GreedyRates, you’re likely to find his nose in a comic book. He likes comics so much, he hosts a podcast called Speech Bubble where he interviews those involved in the comic industry. You can follow him on Twitter: @broverman

Article comments

Laura says:

Something is wrong with the rating you are attributing to the scores in that you are giving a much higher rating to lower scores than TransUnion and Equifax. My current score is 640. I have paid off all my cards in the past thirty days and am waiting for the lenders to report the cards as paid in order to see my score increase. Currently, TransUnion and Equifax both rate my score as Poor, but according to your criteria, my credit score rating is “fair.” It’s not, and it’s not fair for you to posit that it is because it makes people feel better. When they need to borrow or get an auto loan, they will find out soon enough that your ratings are inaccurate.

Daniel from GreedyRates says:

Hi Laura,
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. The credit score ranges in this post were taken from Equifax’s scoring model. A credit score of 640 would fall in the fair range (580-669). Congrats on paying off all your cards- I hope your credit score sees the impact from all your hard work.

Joaquin says:

The scoring system still misleads people. Major financial institutions only require applicants to have a score of 680 or higher to qualify for most lending especially secured lending and it will not impact their rates. Higher scores means the bank may be willing to lend more or make exceptions well somebody with the score of 679 or lower would not get any exceptions and below 650 they may not get any lending at all unless they have a guarantor. Smaller lenders and private lenders do provide pricing based on credit score but that usually means the applicant already did not qualify at some for some reason or other a major lender with standard lending guidelines. This means there’s no need to stress out if you don’t have a score of 800 as long as your score is good or above you are generally okay.

Daniel from GreedyRates says:

Hi Joaquin,
Agreed- the scoring system is opaque and confusing. Apart from the general guidelines on improving your credit score, the credit score calculation itself may as well be a black box. That said, really appreciate your breakdown- it really helps to quantify your credit score’s impact in practical applications. Thanks!

Barry Wilson says:

I see different descriptions of the same credit score from various sources. Credit Karma say my score of 741 is very good. Bank of Montreal Trans union has it 2nd from bottom out of 5 categories. Capitol one Trans union has it 2nd from top and says very good. Your article says 741 is excellent. Why the discrepancies and interpretations

Daniel at GreedyRates says:

Hi Barry,
Your credit score can vary depending on when your source last polled the credit union for the information. That said, credit scores can be very much an art as they are a science; If you click through, you can see that even Equifax and Transunion have differing opinions on the thresholds for each category. Rest assured that, at 741, your credit is in decent shape.

Omar says:

Hi Aaron,
My credit score was 764 last June, I applied for a credit card but my application got declined (Idk why!)I lost 10 points, then the credit score started dropping down by 15 points in July, 23 points in August and about 17 points in September till this moment, I have an outstanding auto loan for $62000 and $300 credit crad (I usually pay off biweekly) but I exceeded the limit by $2 one time, and a phone bill paid on time, I didn’t have any inquiries in the last 14 months and haven’t missed a payment in my life, but I can’t understand why it keeps dropping down.
Any advises?

Aaron Broverman says:

Hi Omar,
What determines our credit score has always been a weird and mysterious alchemy. My article only provides a best guess. The same goes for what raises or lowers it. Perhaps your credit card utilization us quite high right now. Going over the limit is also a big knock (and it doesn’t matter by how much) I wouldn’t worry too much though, My advice is don’t get too caught up in the number and just keep paying that debt down. The best way is to make two payments per month: once early in the credit grace period near when you get your statement and the last just before the deadline. Stay the course and whittle away at that debt.

SM says:

Hi Aaron, Thanks for a great article and for responding to all of the interesting questions below. I have a few short questions too
1) Does having an unused line of credit affect my ability to get a mortgage in the future?
2) What effect does the total credit available have on the credit score, i.e., if you take it to the extreme, someone has many credit cards that are unused, they technically have a low credit utilization but tonnes of available credit – is this a problem?
3) I have a credit card that I barely use because my wife and I share a different rewards-based credit card; so, my card has a very low balance every month, and the card that is under her name, (which I have a secondary card) is generally somewhere around 30-40% of the credit limit each month (which we pay in full). Is this a bad idea? Should I get a second rewards card under my name so the credit utilization ratio for each of us will be lower?

Thanks so much in advance.

Niasha Pompey says:

Can I dispute the major drop in credit score? I dropped 28 points because of new credit reported(car laon) my husband lost 32 points. (With Equifax that is) transunion there was an increase. What’s going on with these agencies.

Aaron Broverman says:

Hi Niasha,
If you really feel the information is inaccurate, it’s your right to dispute the information and each credit bureau must investigate by law. However, if it’s just a case of you don’t think your credit score should’ve dipped down as far, I think you’re out of luck. Feel free to try if you think the dip is related to an inaccuracy, but know that both Equifax and Transunion report your credit score slightly differently so disputes must be launched with each bureau separately. Call 1-800-663-9980 for Transunion. For service in French and for anyone living in Quebec call: 1-877-713-3393 or 514-335-0374 (in Montreal) With Equifax it’s harder, you need to fill out the form at https:// www /personal/ dispute-credit-report-form/and fax it to (514) 355-8502 or send it by mail to:
Equifax Canada Co.
National Consumer Relations
Box 190
Montreal, Quebec H1S 2Z2

Benj says:

I can’t seem to go above a 750-760 score with Transunion. Is it because I have too many credit cards?

I have seven open credit cards because of various cashback incentives and such, and because my bank gives me two premium cards free for my professional program. I regularly use 5 of them for different categories of spending, I pay no annual fees, and I always pay the full monthly balance. The age breakdowns are:
11 years
8 years
6 years
3 years
2 years
1 year
1 year

I’m hoping to get a mortgage around June 2021, so I’d like my credit score to be high at that time.

One of the 1 year cards is the Rogers WE Mastercard, which recently devalued its rewards. I’ll be closing it in a few months before I apply for the mortgage, I’m just keeping the account open for the warranty extensions.
The other card I don’t use is the 11 year old one, but I’m keeping that open for the credit history.

I also have a student line of credit that’s still open (and at 0 balance), but that’s my only other credit vehicle.

What can I do to increase my score?

Aaron Broverman says:

Hi Benji,
You should be able to still qualify for a mortgage with the very good credit score you have, so don’t put too much stock in it. However, if you want to raise your score, make frequent micropayments throughout the month rather than just pay allyour cars close to or on the due date. Keep your credit cards open but keep your total utilization between all your credit products under 30% at all times. Track your credit score every month by registering for a free service like credit karma or Borrowell and review your report to look for any errors or inaccuracies. Call the credit bureaus to have those eliminated. Make sure you under use all your cards with the majority having zero dollar balances, raise your credit limits. Pay your whole balance often and on time as this can make up 35% of your score. Pay your card off once just before the statement closing date and once just before the payment due date. Finally, call your credit card company and make sure your new credit limit increases are reflected on your credit report. Mix it up too. Make sure your not always using credit cards, but other forms of credit to pay for things as well.

Larry says:

I have a LOC secured by a GIC, that I took out to invest in a business that I started. But it shows the line of credit at full utilization, and I am wondering if there is a way to identify the security to the bureau, and whether that would have a better effect on my score (775).

Aaron Broverman says:

Hi Larry,
You can try calling transunion at 1-800-916-8000 and ask them, but with a 775 score that’s pretty decent and you may not have anything to worry about even with this one product at full utilization. Still, you can at least ask them if the GIC factors in and they would know best in this case. Hope they can help.

Arjun Srinivas says:

I have two credit cards($21000 and $1000 limits) and two Line Of Credits ($10,000 limit on each). I’m planning on furnishing my apartment and use my credit card to buy stuff ($10000 approx) and clear it using one of my LOC, as one of of my LOC has a lower interest than the other.
Out of my total credit limit which is $42000 will my credit utilization will be considered as less that 25% or will it be considered as 100% on one of my LOC account and will get a serious hit on my credit score?
Please let me now if there is a better way to utilize my available credit.

Aaron Broverman says:

Hi Arjun,
Your credit utilization would likely be 25% or under because your credit utilization is based on all the credit you have available among all the credit products you carry, so not to worry. The hit on your credit score should be relatively minor, given how credit utilization is calculated as long as you’re not carrying an additional balance already.

Margie says:

I have a credit card that went to collections. I paid it off over time in full even after they offered me to pay at lower amount – interest. On my credit report it shows negatively can can I change this on my report to improve my score? It currently says paid but shows the failure to pay originally … I paid it in full and feeling like I’m stuck with the negativity on my report dispite my efforts to pay all that I owed.

Aaron Broverman says:

Hi Margie,
Generally, negative things on your credit report stay on your credit report for 7 years regardless of whether you rectified the matter or not. Of course, this can have a negative impact on your credit score because your credit score reflects your credit history and your reliability as a borrower. You have options though. You can wait it out, you can call the credit reporting agency directly and ask them to remove it — either TransUnion, or Equifax, or both. You can also file a dispute with the credit reporting agency. All the information on how to do this is available on their respective websites.

Michael A. says:

First of all, thank you for the great article and sorry for the stupid questions – I am just preparing for migration and know literally nothing.

In the article you have said that amount is important. But you have meant ratio of amount/limit.
What about total numbers? Are they taken into consideration by bureaus?
For example, are these options equal:
1. Credit card has $1000 limit and I use $300 in average monthly (30%).
2. Credit card has $10000 limit and I use $3000 in average monthly (same 30%).
Another question is:
As I understood, I need “to dance” around 30% point. But expenses are floating. At the beginning of the month I reach 10$, in the middle – 20$, at the end – 30%. How do I know at which exactly day of month bank sends report to bureau so I could aim to reach the 30 before that date and not after?

Thank you!

Aaron Broverman says:

Hi Michael,
Thanks for your question. Yes, if you only have card 1 or you only have card 2 that would be considered 30% utilization by the bureaus and that would have to be maintained consistently at the end of each billing cycle to start impacting your score in a positive direction. If you happen to have both cards with both balances, the ratio is taken cumulatively and in total, so you’re then utilizing more than 30% of your total credit. Also remember that credit utilization is only one aspect of calculating a credit score, there are many other factors that come together to make up that particular alchemy. That is to say, you may still have an average credit score despite consistently keeping your credit card at 30% utilization at the end of each billing cycle.

Shell says:


I have 2 more questions.

I had a large outstanding balance on a high interest credit card that I was finding impossible to pay off. It was pretty much at the limit. The Credit Counselling Society recommended I ask to be put into the card provider’s “hardship program” to get a lower rate, and that I shouldn’t count against my score.

After much effort (calls were ignored I had to apply in writing) I got my rate decreased to 5% on the condition of closing the account to any future purchases. I am now paying it off at approximately 5 times the minimum payment per month.

My questions are:
Does “closing” the account in this way to pay it off affect my credit score?
Does the provider continue to report to the credit bureaus monthly stating I am current with payments, thus gradually improving my score?

Thank you,

Shell says:

Could you please tell me how having and/or using a chequing account overdraft affects credit utilization, credit score and potential requests for credit? I’ve taken mine almost to the max a few times but as my pay goes into that account it is paid off bi-weekly.

Thanks for all your great advice! I have learned so much from your site. I wish I had known of it years ago. I will definitely recommend it to others.

Aaron Broverman says:

Hi Shell, thanks for your question. Typically, being in overdraft occasionally shouldn’t negatively impact your credit score. In fact, when a bank looks at the other credit products you have, likely having an overdraft will be viewed more as a positive than a negative because it increases your ability to pay whatever credit product you’re applying for. If you demonstrate an ability to pay your overdraft back quickly when you do dip into it, this can also work in your favor. Sometimes if your overdraft amount is viewed as too big relative to your income, (even if you’re not using it) this can work against you. Just try not to keep your account in overdraft consistently for really long periods. Of course, unauthorized overdrafts where overdraft protection is not in place do negatively impact your score.

Shell says:

Thank you for the quick response Aaron. It’s much appreciated!

Karthi says:


I recently took remortgage to pay off all my debts including 2 credit card balances (26K& 16K) and student loan. I’ve used my credit card to the max before paying off. My credit score was 615..

For hpwlong do you advise me to keep my credit card open in order to help my credit score up. I REALLY want to close my credit cards and do a fresh start.. please advise

Aaron Broverman says:

Hi Karthi,
I would advise really resisting the urge to close your credit cards with zero dollar balances as it will really improve your credit utilization, which will bring your credit score up more rapidly than if you were to close both of them and have less available credit overall. I would recommend signing up for a free account from a credit monitoring service such as Credit Karma or Borrowell so you can monitor the rise of your credit on a monthly basis and actually see the improvement. Once your credit score reaches a level you want, then you can close your cards, but do it slowly, don’t close everything all at once or you will see a rapid drop. If all your debts are paid though, you don’t need to worry as much, just leave one credit card open so the credit bureaus can see there’s some credit available.

Mohammed Alhamouri says:

I am new to Canada, any idea what my first credit score will start at? I have a credit card from Scotiabank and I utilized less than 30% of the total balance, I activated automatic credit card payment in full. I used the card so far for various stuff such as for groceries, some electronics, telecom, medicines, and government transactions.

Aaron Broverman says:

Hi Mohammed,
I cannot tell you what your first credit score will start at, as there are many factors at play in determining a credit score and the process is kept secret. Though based on what you describe, your score should be pretty good. Maybe in the low to mid 700s. In any case, even if your score is good, your newness to Canada may make it difficult to get accepted for a high reward card, despite your score — just be aware of that — but you’ll certainly qualify for something.

William Kiley says:

So from what I”ve read here today, if I were to have 1 credit card with say, $1000 limit @ 50% utilization, and open a second card with a $1000 limit somewhere else, I would increase my credit score drastically (~50 points)?

Nate Siegel says:

Hey William,

Good question! The answer is that your credit utilization ratio would decrease into healthy territory (0-30%) and contribute to a better credit score, but that it’s too complicated to be able to predict by how much your score might rise. If you have one credit card with a limit of $1,000 and 50% utilization (a $500 balance), then getting a new card with the same limit would immediately lower your credit utilization ratio to 25%. Bureaus like Equifax and TransUnion have a long list of factors that weigh into your eventual score, and utilization is just one of them, but it is a big one. Some others are the length of time you’ve had your oldest (and newest) account, your outstanding balance and late payment history, your income, and more.


Jeff Poirier says:

Hi there. I have an RBC credit card and I have had no issues except for when I checked my credit score. Twice since I got it in June, my credit score dropped. I always paid at least the minimum payment before the due date. I had a $7xx.xx balance in September and my score dropped 23 points…this month I had a $95.xx balance and my score dropped 9 points. I have a $13,500 credit limit. I paid more than the minimum payment before the date and it still went down. The funny thing is my balance was reported before my minimum payment was due.

Does this sound right to you? I’m under the impression that my score shouldn’t drop if I make at least the minimum payment before the due date each month.

Nate Siegel says:

Hey Jeff,

We appreciate your comment! Thanks for posting. You say that you “always pay at least the minimum payment before the due date”, but to us that means you’re still neglecting to pay the full amount of your balance. Is that the case? Remember that paying the minimum is indeed helpful because it signals to creditors your intention to pay interest, and so they won’t suddenly get scared and raise rates. It also inflicts a dent to your credit score, however, because you haven’t paid off the full amount you owe for that month during the grace period.

This should be evident to you by the way your score drops in parallel with the amount of your outstanding balance. When it was $700 or more it fell 23 points, and when it was just $95 your score took a 9-point hit. Make sure to pay your bill in full each month if you’re able to. It’s ok, and even recommended, to let up to 30% of your credit limit appear on the statement beforehand, but don’t let it carry! Best of luck.


Dmitry says:

Thank you for your explanation, but may be it is possible to transfer your credit score from another countries(Russia or Israel for example) to Canada? Or if I want to live in Canada all my previous credit score is a trash?

Nate Siegel says:

Hey Dmitry,

For new immigrants or visa holders who want to build credit in Canada, the best thing to do is approach one of the Big Five banks and apply for one or a few of their basic products, like a checking and savings account, and a debit card, secured credit card, or unsecured credit card. Your credit score, even if it is currently high enough to obtain the best credit products in your country, will not apply in Canada. You’ll need to start from scratch, but thankfully the variety and level of products open to you will also be affected by any initial deposit you wish to make from abroad. It could be the difference between a secured and an unsecured credit card, at whichever bank you open the chequing account and make the deposit.

You might also be able to use American Express’s global transfer program, if you have an Amex card, to transfer to a Canadian version of that same card. This might help give your credit report a bump in the right direction here as well. Lastly, here’s an article we’ve written about everything new immigrants in Canada need to know about money. Enjoy!

GreedyRates Staff

Richard Fryer says:

I have an 856 score with Equifax and a 715 with Transunion… that’s quite a difference. Have a long credit history (since 1970) No late payments and I had a fairly large balance with BMO, now paid down to $500 from $12,500. There is an error on my report showing an automatically issued credit card but was never picked up nor even’ authourized’. I want the report cancelled because it is credit utilization I can never use. Even though this credit card is useless, some say this is bad, because it reduces your credit utilization ratio yet I do want to apply for a credit card that has no ‘out of country ‘ foreign currency converting 2.5% fee, and offers a couple of perks like 1% cashback and car rental insurance waiver. With some concern I did ask Equifax to do an investigation, because the ‘offending’ credit card company does not even have me in their system. Any advice on this?

Nate Siegel says:

Hi Richard,

We think you’re on the correct path so far, and if there’s an erroneous entry on TransUnion pushing your score down, then all you can really do is dispute it and wait it out. It will drop off eventually, but in the meantime, we don’t think that a credit card you were issued and didn’t active would have this effect. First off, if you were issued credit and didn’t use any of it, it would technically lower your utilization ratio (which is a good thing) because you suddenly have a lot more credit that isn’t being taken advantage of. Second, we absolutely have a couple suggestions for good no-foreign-transaction-fee cards in the meantime.

The first one to consider is the Home Trust Preferred Visa, which covers all the perks you want and more. No annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and 1% cash back. Another suggestion would be to check out the Scotiabank Gold Amex or the Scotia Passport Visa Infinite, both of which are upper-tier travel rewards cards but also have exemption from foreign transaction fees. Rogers and Meridian are another potential solution, with both issuers offering cards that offset foreign transaction fees by giving more cash back and rewards on foreign currency purchases (Rogers World Elite or the Meridian Visa Infinite Travel card). Good luck!


Shawn says:

I find it strange that Equifax and Transunion have given me radically different credit scores. They both have access to the same information, so I would think the scores would at least be close, not almost 160 points between them.

Nate Siegel says:

Hey Shawn,

This seems to be the case with lots of people, and it can happen for a number of reasons. A discrepancy between your credit score on Equifax versus TransUnion may be due to a credit report entry that doesn’t exist with the other bureau, in which case there’s a mistake somewhere that should be disputed. A gap of 160 is pretty big, and we’d double check it if you haven’t already. However, you’re also correct to indicate that it may be because these are two companies with different credit models after all. Good luck!


Rachael says:

My credit score recently dropped because I missed paying my line of credit for 2 months. I thought I had it set up to pay automatically. Now my interest rate has went from 7% to 13%! My minimum payments doubled from 150 to 300$’s a month. Is there any way to dispute this? Should I look into switching banks? It just seems so backwards!

Nate Siegel says:

Hey Rachael,

Thanks for posting your comment. If you’ve set up automatic credit balance payments from a bank account, then you likely can confirm this by logging into the online credit account. It’s important to double check these things because not only does missing a monthly payment raise your rate, it may impact your credit score as well! It’s possible to call your bank and dispute somehow, and it would help if you could provide proof you set up auto-payments, but there’s only a small chance that they’ll see it your way regardless.

You could try your luck at another bank, but consider that you’ll either have to get them to approve further credit on top of your existing line, or close your current line of credit and risk further damage to your score. This further lowers your chance to get a better deal anyway, so a solid bet is to stick with your current bank, make timely payments, and then convince them to lower your rate. Another option is to switch to a credit card such as the MBNA True Line Gold card, where you’ll pay 0% on your balance for a pretty significant promotional period, then 8.99% after.

GreedyRates Staff

Melanie says:

I had a perfect credit score . . . until I paid off my mortgage. Then it dropped 48 points. My husband laughed and said, “Why do we need to worry about it now that we don’t need to apply for another mortgage?” But I want the perfect score I worked so hard for BACK. I know, I know, it’s just an arbitrary number that clearly changes for the worst even when a person does EVERYTHING right. I shouldn’t care, but I do. LOL How do I get my perfect score back without taking on another mortgage? Or is it simply a lost cause now? (Note: I still have the open credit line that the mortgage was tied to – 200k – that account has not been closed, the balance just sits at zero. Other types of credit include a car loan for $24k and two credit cards with high limits – 21k & 18k – but zero balances.) Thanks for any advice you can offer!

Nate Siegel says:

Hey Melanie,

Appreciate the comment! Congratulations on paying off your mortgage as well, that’s a big achievement. Oftentimes, when you pay off a mortgage in a big chunk, it affects your credit utilization ratio and might even ding your score, as you now understand. It’s annoying but consider the fact that banks view credit utilization as one of the heavier variables of the score, yet they still see you the same regardless. Credit score is just a number: lenders see beyond tit, and if you don’t need a loan then it’s even less relevant. True and overall financial health is more important than how healthy the credit score calculator tells you that you are.


Kassshun bekele says:

Reply I like this in bankruptcy proceedings

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hi Kassahun,

If you’re looking to boost your credit score while in the middle of a bankruptcy, and get access to new credit, then your options are limited. The best solution for one in your position is always to use cash and make a security deposit towards a secured credit card such as the Home Trust Secured Visa. By depositing as little as $500 with Home Trust, they’ll print you a credit card with a matching credit limit, for use online and elsewhere as with any other card, and since it counts as credit you can use it wisely to raise your credit score.

During a bankruptcy, when trying to apply for credit products or really any financial products that require scrutiny of your creditworthiness (assets, loans, defaults, income, etc.) you should always go to your own bank first. If you’d like more pointed advice, refer to our new vlog on credit scores!


NJR says:

I have been paying down my car loan, my credit cards are at 17% utilization. My payments are on time but my score hasn’t moved. I have been disputing thing and transunion removes them equifax hasn’t. This has been on going since June. I sent them a job letter saying I’ve been employed at the same company for a long time, they still have it saying self employed. What should I do? I’ve been doing all the right things. They will take away 40 points for say a missed payment but give you 5 for doing the right thing. Please help, there’s no answer at the dispute line at equifax it’s just dead air.

The GreedyRates Team says:


Appreciate the comments. If you’re in the middle of a dispute with Equifax regarding erroneous credit report entries, then all you can really do is wait. Once the employment and other disputes reflect properly, then your score should rise. Until then, try to determine which lenders use TransUnion and stick to them, or request that they use a TransUnion score rather than the Equifax one if possible. Regarding your credit utilization, 17% is good but 30% is ideal, and you’ll also need to remember to let this portion of your balance actually come due. Don’t pay it off before the bank sends you the monthly statement, then once you receive a statement asking you to pay, do so before interest is charged.

If this is already your strategy, sit tight and perhaps apply for a secured credit card to add to your wallet. These cards will help boost your score by decreasing your utilization ratio and adding more credit instruments to your profile, which shows banks you’re capable of handling multiple obligations at once.


SBR says:

Can a 8-year-old international debt can affect my credit score in Canada if followed by a debt collection company’s office in Canada on behalf of their client based in the UAE

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hey SBR,

Very interesting inquiry! Essentially the answer relies on several factors, including how much you owe and whether or not the lender that you owe is able to easily and inexpensively pursue you. While companies in the UAE aren’t likely involved with TransUnion or Equifax, that doesn’t mean they can’t get in touch with a Canadian lawyer and try to obtain a foreign legal judgement to collect the debt through a Canadian agency.

This is an expensive process so it’s less feasible unless what you owe is significant, or if the company has a branch in Canada (and therefore easier access to a lawyer that works for their subsidiary). Essentially, if the company is unable to get Canadian collections to pursue you then there is no impact on your Canadian credit score, while the opposite is true if they retained counsel and set him or her after you.


Tawsif Islam says:

I’m confused about the “types of credit” terminology. I follow credit building influencers based in the states and that category seems to simply apply to “amount of credit cards.” is it the same here? Or does this involve having credit cards/lines of credit/loans/etc.

Also, does combing hard inquiries work here? I’m relatively young so I’m trying to build a base of NoAF cards to age with me. I’m upgrading my TD Rewards card to a Platinum Travel one, and was wondering if I could double dip and get the NoAF TD cash back card, while avoiding a second hard pull.

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hey Tawsif,

Great comments, and commendations as well for your thorough self-education on building credit! If you’re wondering about diversity of credit, then it doesn’t matter if you’re in the US or Canada because both countries’ credit bureaus have similar approaches to credit diversity. Having a diverse array of credit products is seen as more favorable to a bank than a potential borrower who has only ever utilized one form of credit. That means exactly what you stated: a healthy mix of credit cards, loans, mortgages, secured debt, lines of credit, car loans etc.

As for combining hard inquiries, we’ve heard reports that Amex Canada will combine all hard inquiries made for applications in the same day into one, but it’s inconclusive whether Visa and Mastercard Canada do the same. Usually people won’t (and shouldn’t) apply for multiple cards in the same short window—and doing so in the same day is no exception obviously. We’re almost positive that TD will make an additional hard check on your credit if you apply for the cash back card but confirm with them first. Either way, the long-term benefits of a great credit relationship will outweigh a hard check any day—so good luck!


jb says:

Thx for the tips!
What is the most favourable reporting language after outstanding debt has been paid off i.e “Paid in Full”, “Paid as Agreed”, “Settled” etc. I have debt that was really bad – it went past collections and I went through court and agreed to a settlement. We agreed on very low monthly payments but I’m now in a position to pay it off very quickly and want to ask that it is reported as something that will be favourable on my credit report as an act of good will (all they can do is say no). Would “Paid in Full” be best? Can it be removed altogether – and would that even be to my benefit?


The GreedyRates Team says:

Hi JB,

Good question, thank for posting it with us. If you’re trying to navigate the language on your credit report, then it helps to think of any entry from the perspective of a lender. If they see an entry that indicates you’ve negotiated with another lender to pay less than the amount of what you originally owed, it doesn’t look good (and therefore has a negative impact). The opposite side of the coin is also true: A debt that’s paid in full is desirable for creditors and will encourage them to extend you opportunities to borrow (it’s therefore positive for your credit score).

Paid as Agreed and Paid in Full are the same and represent the healthy latter situation, while Settled is obviously the former example (which has reduced you credit score). If you’ve negotiated a settlement in court already and have agreed to pay off less than what you owed, and in monthly deposits as described, then your debt is likely Settled already. The lender now believes you’ll pay back the new sum you’ve agreed to pay, so simply agreeing to pay that amount but upfront may not build enough goodwill to give you any leverage, nor warrant an upgrade to Paid in Full. However, it’s absolutely worth a shot to ask!


Akash says:

Understand the credit card part. Thanks. But how the credit score work with Line of credit?

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hey Akash,

Good question. If you have a line of credit, then you won’t encounter the same hard limits as you would on a credit card—no set schedule in which you need to repay the funds borrowed. Though it is very flexible, you’ll still have small minimum payments (set by your bank) that you need to make, and if you miss these payments or consistently pay the interest exclusively (instead of the principal) then this will hurt your credit. CIBC, for instance, has a 3.00% (or $60—whichever is greater) minimum monthly fee when you decide to use your LoC, and ignoring this puts your credit in jeopardy as well as your good standing with the bank.

Essentially, most financial products have a built-in set of rules that you need to follow to stay in their good graces and also keep your credit on the up-and-up. If you have any other inquiries or questions about lines of credit, let us know!


Theresa says:

Do line of credits factor in when calculating credit utilization?

Nate Siegel says:

Hey Theresa,

Great question, thanks for coming to GreedyRates. If you’re looking to optimize your credit utilization ratio and therefore boost your credit score as well, it’s relevant to know that your credit score is only for revolving credit—not loans or financial instruments with installments like a mortgage or car loan. Lines of credit and your credit cards are what you’ll pay attention to when determining the ratio of your utilized credit to your total approved credit from your lenders.

If you have a $10,000 line of credit and a credit card with a $20,000 limit, then you should ideally let only 30% of that $30,000 come due each month and then pay it before interest is applied. We’ve actually got a handy article that was published recently about credit scores, so we’ll point to towards that and are also available for other questions you might have. Thanks again.


Bob Hannah says:

I almost never run a credit card balance, and pay my monthly bill off a day or 2 before due date to be sure to avoid interest charges. So even if I have a bill of 50% of my authorization, if I pay it off a day before due date does that mean the bank sees my utilization as zero?

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hey Bob,

Perfecting the credit utilization balancing act isn’t as hard as you’d think. Ideally you should aim for 30% utilization, but you’re correct that it is first important to understand how the bank defines “utilized” credit. It’s definitely smart to pay your balance in full each month, especially if you have good credit, but if you’re trying to boost your score then it’s worth letting the bill come due while you still carry a balance. If you pay the entire balance before your bank sends the monthly statement, then it doesn’t “see” that you’ve used your credit limit at all.

Use 30% of your limit each month and let the bill come due, then pay it before interest is applied. Carrying the balance to the next month and accruing interest on that 30% is also fine, but no more than that. By no means are you required to pay interest, however, in order to see your score go up. This is just one factor of many concerning how banks determine creditworthiness, and if you want to learn more about it then we suggest watching this video about credit scores. Enjoy!


Matthew says:

Hi, thanks for providing all of this information, very much appreciated. I have an old credit card I have been paying down for a few years now I am trying to figure out what to do with and how it is really affecting my credit. TD says it is closed, I figured as I can no longer use it, only make payments to it, but it appears on my credit reports as open/ status: Good with pay status: Current, BUT it shows last payment as 2013 and balance as 0 even tho my balance is still around 500$ and I am making payments each month over 100$. What is the deal with this? Thinking of just paying off whole balance at once but will that ding me even tho bank says its closed? The reporting on my credit report is super confusing

Nate Siegel says:

Hey Matthew,

Thanks for the excellent comment. To figure out how to handle this old mystery debt, you need to determine the timeline of what happened to your old TD balance. We guess that at one point, you had this card and stopped paying your minimum monthly balance, so TD effectively erased it from their books by sending it to a third-party collections company. This is all discoverable by ordering a complete credit report, or just by playing detective and making calls to anyone you know that’s a part of the process: credit bureau, bank representatives, and eventually (we assume) the debt collector.

From there you can figure out how much is owed and negotiate to pay it off, then work with Equifax or TransUnion to get it removed from your report. In no cases is paying off an old balance from 2013 going to hurt your credit, so don’t worry. Just do your due diligence and get to the bottom of it! Keep us in the loop as well and leave another comment once you’ve found a resolution. Best of luck!


Gina says:

The bank is sending me letters wanting to increase my borrowing amount on my low interest visa. If I accept the offer increase does that affect my credit score either to the negative or the positive?

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hi Gina,

Excellent question. The real thing that affects your credit when you increase your borrowing (credit) limit is your altered credit utilization ratio. You’ll suddenly have a higher total credit limit, and it won’t automatically be in use, meaning the ratio of utilized to unutilized credit will go down. This is healthy for your credit because it shows the bank you aren’t desperate enough to constantly be touching the ceiling of your approved limit. What you do after you get the new credit limit room is also watched closely by the bank.

Ensure you stay at that optimal 30% utilization threshold by not letting more than 30% of your balance come due at the end of the month. You can carry 30% as long as you like, and still be considered favorably by the bank, but more than this isn’t recommended. If you need to use upwards of 50% of your credit limit, just make sure that you pay it down before the bill is sent. Good luck!


Jean-Jacques says:

Someone told me that paying off credit card BEFORE the end of the billing cycle will not be calculated in the credit score, but paying after the full month (but on time) will have a better impact to my credit score. IE: Paying off something I just bought immediately vs Paying it off after the statement comes in (but still in on time).

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hi Jean-Jacques,

This is a great comment, and we’ll address it in parts to explain in the best way possible. First, a general rule to follow is that banks see the actual utilization of your credit as the most positive correlation with your score. This is what your friend was describing to you: if your bank gives you a $5,000 credit limit and you only spend a few thousand each month and pay it off 100% before your bill comes due, to the bank it looks like you’re not using your credit at all. You might be spending up to your full limit each month, but if you pay it off before the bank is able to bill you, your “utilization” is at 0%.

Second, ideally, you’re aiming for 30% utilization, which means when your bill comes due (or is carried over to the next month), it’s only for 30% of your total approved credit limit. For a $5,000 credit limit that means you’re letting the bank bill you at the end of the month for a $1,500 balance. This is good for your credit, and you’re then able to pay it off before it’s due to avoid interest.

You can also let that 30% amount collect interest and then pay it off in one of the following months, just as long as you aren’t carrying more (and include interest charges in your calculation of 30%). This is even better for your credit and shows banks not only that you’re able to use credit, but also that you can do so responsibly and profitably for them. Hope that helps.

GreedyRates Staff

David says:

Is credit utilization based on a total of all credit limits (credit cards plus line of credit) or I need to keep each credit product utilization below 30%? I keep some credit cards that I never use (0% utilization) to increase the length of credit card. 0% utilization will hurt credit score as well?

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hi David,

Thanks for asking this question, it’s a good chance for us to provide some clarity on an idea we talk a lot about. The 30% credit utilization rule is something that applies to all your available credit and is meant to show the bank that you’re a responsible—but profitable—potential customer. When they look at your credit for an application, they’re looking at the entire thing, so even if you’re using the full credit limit on one credit card, as long as your overall credit utilization is around 30% then it still looks good.

Technically, utilized credit means that you’re carrying it month to month, not that you’re only allowed to spend 30% of your available credit. Feel free to use 100% of your credit but pay off at least 70% of it before your statement comes due. Remember that the 30% rule is a guideline, not a hard rule. The only idea that is always true is that lower utilization is better. Good luck and let us know if we can help in other ways.


Blair says:

I don’t understand what and who exactly determines what scores, and what different score ratings are correct. I had my credit score drop 40 points with no different change in my account behaviour. I talked to visa, scotia, and transunion. Transunion says they dont actually do a score, and just give monthly credit reports to scotia. Then scotia uses thei own model to generate the score they show you on their app, which they claim is a transunion score. I have no idea what model or factors they use, and they say it’s just based on transunion. Then there’s the fact that there are likely other scores or ratings by seperate models if I were to compare and contrast. I dont’ understand the risk-reward-rating-report-score process at all nor was the article clear. It tries to make credit rating seem like this tight exact process that is universal and logical if you follow ‘x’ thing but the reality isn’t like that. So where is the real information for these difficult details and accountability and transparency?

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hi Blair,
We understand that comprehending your credit score, and why it moves up and down the way it does, is a frustrating and seemingly obscure process. Just keep in mind that companies such as Equifax and TransUnion are not the end-all-be-all authorities of the financial world. Each has its own strategy to determine your score, and even though they largely have access to the same data they may not be in sync with one another. Their job is merely to assist banks in connecting the dots and vetting applicants for credit, but also to help Canadians understand how these banks see their creditworthiness.

Through testing and the process of elimination, not to mention educational literature from these credit bureaus, it’s easily demonstrable over time how different things impact your credit. Their models are their own—we’re not sure why a TransUnion rep would say they don’t “do a score”. If you’re puzzled about the status of your credit and want answers, we suggest that you pay for a full comprehensive credit report from one of the main bureaus. There are also consultation services out there which help you narrow down and dispute any of the items that you don’t agree with on the report.
We hope you’re able to track down the source of that recent 40-point dip in your credit. Let us know how the situation progresses.


PJ says:

Which credit cards in Canada allow you to add an authorized user to improve their credit?

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hi PJ,

Unfortunately, we don’t keep a comprehensive, updated list of which banks offer this feature to their cardholders. Most banks (virtually all of them) allow secondary users on their credit cards, which help the primary user to collect more rewards points for example, and which also may have an impact on those secondary users’ credit scores. This is something to take up with the bank, however, so begin your search as if this wasn’t a criteria at all. Pick a card that you and the authorized user both like, and then before applying call up the bank and inquire about this arrangement.


Roderick J Denley says:

it is ridiculous that in the shared commerce of usa and canada neither country has a reciprocal credit arrangement Equifax for example has a canadian subsidiary but nether branch can interact with each other. ie,, i have a USA Fico score of 819 out of 850 and it is worthless for doing business in Canada even though Sault. Ste Marie is a sister city in both countries !!

The GreedyRates Team says:

Greetings Roderick,

Great comment. We agree that it’s very inconvenient for two countries who share such a good relationship to not also have any relationship between their credit bureaus. US citizens like yourself who have great credit should be able to transfer their financial reputation, but will unfortunately need to start at 0 in Canada. While you can ask your bank to transfer your account to a Canadian version, if applicable, it won’t transfer any details of your history or credit score.

Thankfully, it won’t take too long to demonstrate good financial behavior to Canadian banks. Pick up a couple Canadian credit cards and do what you’ve always done—buy, borrow, pay back on time, and keep a healthy credit utilization ratio. If you need any guidance on the Canadian credit card world, we’re always here to help out.


A.S. says:

You always try Amex, they apparently have a program of transferring your history with them to move countries if necessary – but that’s on the issuer side and not on the credit bureau side.

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hi A.S.,

That’s correct. If you’re an Amex cardholder, the issuer will help you get ahold of a Canadian Amex card of similar caliber if you can prove to them that you’re a citizen. This is an internal process available only to Amex members, and doesn’t do anything for your Canadian credit score besides help you to obtain a tool to establish credit in the first place. It does not transfer your credit score in your previous country to Canada. Amex will save your information after you move, and so when you apply via their site for a new card, simply use your existing account number and put your new Canadian address and number on the application. Just disregard the field for Canadian credit.

You can also call Amex’s Canadian Global Card Transfer team, and they’ll complete the process for you over the phone. This is a great option for long-time Amex cardholders, but doesn’t apply to non-Amex members obviously, and not for all countries either. Thanks for coming and helping to enlighten our other readers about this feature! Much appreciated.

GreedyRates Staff

Marc says:

Hi, im 18 and applying for credit for the very first time. Im thinking of using Home Trust Visa and giving them money for a cash secured card. My question is this, if i dont use my SIN when applying for my very first credit file, is the credit provider able to still create my first credit file for me? And in the future when i apply for other cards or a car lets say, will i still have a searchable credit file?? I was told by my bank that the SIN is always optinal in Canada. Is this true? Thanks for the information.

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hey Marc,

The Home Trust Preferred Visa card is an excellent beginner card, as it has a $0 annual fee, 0.00% foreign transaction fees (which are usually 2.50% or more when spending money in a foreign currency) and 1.00% cash back on all spending. That’s a trifecta which is tough to beat, but it’s not a secured card. Are you considering picking up both the Home Trust Preferred Visa and the Home Trust Secured Visa? If so, that’s not a bad idea. You can expand your total credit limit this way, simply by making a security deposit of at least $500, as well as enjoy unsecured credit.

You don’t need to give your SIN on the application if you don’t want. The information you provide is enough to confirm your identity and the credit profile associated with it, so even if you apply for a card without your SIN it will still contribute to your credit score. Hope that helps!