Your credit score is a three-digit number ranging from 300 to 900 calculated using the information from your credit report. It is used to help lenders and creditors make fair decisions when extending credit to consumers. With a higher credit score, you can improve your eligibility for financial products and get lower interest rates.
How to Check Credit Score
Contrary to popular belief, you do not have a single credit score that can instantly and objectively tell lenders and creditors exactly how risky you are. Instead, your credit score is a number representing the information on your credit report. That number varies based on the information included and the manner in which the credit score is calculated.
Financial institutions evaluate your full financial history when extending credit, but your credit score can give you a good estimate of your creditworthiness. There are a few different options available for getting a credit score:
- Get a free annual credit report from one of the two major credit reporting agencies
- Register for a free credit score service or credit scoring website
- Check your credit card, financial institution, or loan statement for an attached credit score
- You can also access this credit score online through your financial institution’s website or mobile app
What is a Good Credit Score?
Many financial products require that you have a credit score of at least 650-660, which is about the average credit score. You should always be looking to improve your credit score because it can provide many more opportunities.
|Excellent (760+)||With a credit score of 760 or higher, you qualify for just about every financial product available and you have access to the best interest rates. Even when seeking financing for large loans like mortgages or car loans, you’ll have a much easier time getting approved. You will also have access to the best credit cards and their rewards.|
|Very Good (725-759)||Considered a low-risk borrower by lenders and creditors, you’ll receive good interest rates and qualify for nearly every financial product out there.|
|Good (660-724)||This is the minimum range to qualify for most financial products and you will have access to most standard rates and terms. While you are eligible for most credit products, you can still improve your credit score to get better interest rates and credit card rewards.|
|Fair (575-659)||With fair credit, you will still qualify for some financial products, but it will be much more difficult. You will also have to pay much higher interest rates, so you should consider improving your credit score.|
|Poor (300-574)||With poor credit, you are unlikely to be approved for nearly all financial products because you are considered a high-risk borrower. In the rare case that you are approved, you will have to pay high-interest rates. You should look to improve your credit before applying for a loan, mortgage, or other types of credit products.|
The Major Credit Bureaus
Credit reporting bureaus, or credit reporting agencies, are private companies that store credit information from various sources and compile it into a credit report that’s used to calculate a credit score. They only collect information from creditors about your financial experiences in Canada, but some financial institutions will recognize international credit histories when asked.
The two main credit bureaus in Canada are TransUnion and Equifax. You can get a free annual copy of your credit report from these bureaus without affecting your credit score by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.
Transunion Credit Score
Transunion gives you a credit report labelled as a “consumer disclosure”. The credit score calculation is based on the VantageScore® 3.0 model, which ranges from 300 to 850. A “good” credit score is between 661 and 720, but as your credit score becomes even higher, you can get additional benefits.
Equifax Credit Score
Referred to as a “credit file disclosure”, Equifax Canada also provides credit reports. The credit score is calculated using the VantageScore® 3.0 model that ranges from 300 to 850. This score includes your payment history, the amount of debt you have, and the length of your credit history among other things. A “good” credit score is between 660 and 724, with 660 being the cutoff for lower-risk borrowers.
Third-Party Credit Companies
Instead of going to credit bureaus directly, you can use free third-party credit companies that provide many additional services. These companies provide a completely free credit score and credit report service by partnering with Canada’s primary credit bureaus. They make money by using your credit profile and financial goals to recommend financial products. Since you are under no obligation to purchase these products, you can use their services at no cost. The two largest third-credit companies in Canada are Borrowell and Credit Karma.
*Some third-party credit companies not listed below may charge you for their credit services. Do not enter credit card or payment information unless you plan on purchasing a suggested product. Credit monitoring companies do not need your credit card information when retrieving a credit report.
Borrowell Credit Score
Borrowell is a Canadian company that aims to educate people about their credit. Borrowell offers many credit services and provides free credit scores/reports through their partnered credit bureau, Equifax. To calculate your credit score, Borrowell uses the Equifax Risk Score 2.0 (ERS).
You can get:
- Free weekly credit scores
- Free report monitoring
- Financial product recommendations
- Help with improving your credit
Credit Karma Credit Score
Credit Karma™ Canada is the Canadian branch of Credit Karma, an American finance company. Similar to Borrowell, Credit Karma offers many credit services and provides free credit scores/reports through their partnered bureau, TransUnion. You can get:
- Free credit scores and reports
- Free credit monitoring
- Credit-related articles/education
Bank Credit Scores
Most banks provide a credit report service to their clients at no additional cost by partnering with major credit bureaus. When applying for a loan or credit, banks will make a manual credit inquiry that lowers your credit score, but most banks also let you view your credit score without affecting your credit score. The “Big 5” banks in Canada, which include RBC, Scotiabank, CIBC, BMO, and TD Canada Trust provide different credit services to their clients.
RBC Credit Score
RBC Online Banking clients have free access to plenty of credit information. By logging in and clicking “View Your Credit Score”, you can get instant access to the CreditView™ Dashboard.
Here, you can:
- View your TransUnion credit score
- View credit factors
- View your credit score history
- View how you rank among other Canadians
- Simulate the impact of certain financial actions on your credit score
Scotiabank Credit Score
Scotiabank clients can get a credit score and comprehensive credit summary online or through the Scotiabank App. To access this, click “See your credit score” after logging in.
You will be able to see plenty of information including:
- Your TransUnion credit score
- Credit score factors
- Your credit score history
- How you rank among other Canadians
- Your full credit report including any accounts affecting your credit score
BMO Credit Score
Using BMO’s mobile banking app, you can view a comprehensive credit summary without affecting your credit score by logging in, tapping “More”, then selecting “My Credit Score”.
You will get access to:
- Your Transunion Credit Score
- Your credit score history
- Your ranking among other Canadians
- A simulated credit score based on certain financial actions
- A full credit report in the CreditView™ Dashboard
- Frequently asked questions and answers about credit under Credit Education in the Dashboard
CIBC Credit Score
CIBC clients can use their free credit score service through the CIBC Mobile Banking app. This is updated quarterly and checking your credit score will have no impact on it.
The CIBC free credit score service shows you:
- Your Equifax credit score
- Frequently asked credit score questions and answers
TD Canada Trust
Unfortunately, TD Canada Trust does not have a credit monitoring service available to their clients. They recommend that you submit a free credit report request by mail with a copy of two pieces of ID, but this can take a long time and it will not include a credit score. We recommend using a credit bureau for a free annual report or signing up through a third-party credit company.
When checking your credit score, you should make the process as easy as possible by following these steps:
- Check Your Bank: If you have an account with a financial institution, that should be the first place you look. Banks make getting your credit score and credit information free, easy, and accessible. You don’t need to sign up for any additional services and can get your credit score without affecting it.
- Use a Third-Party Credit Company: These companies offer a free and unlimited credit reporting service and you only need to sign up for an account. Since these companies make money by recommending financial products, you can use their credit services at no cost.
- Credit Bureaus: Both financial institutions and third-party credit companies use credit bureaus to calculate your credit score. If you want to get your credit information from the primary source, you can receive a free annual credit report from credit bureaus. You can also sign up for a paid subscription and get unlimited access to your credit score and report.
No matter what you choose, monitoring your credit score is an important part of maintaining it. You should always look to improve your credit score until you get access to the best interest rates, financial products, and credit terms.