As a newcomer to Canada, there are many steps you’ll need to take to get established in the country. You’ll have to find a job and a home to qualify for residency, and you’ll probably need to have a good chunk of savings set aside to get you through the initial stages of your transition.
You’ll also want to make sure you start building your credit as soon as possible when you arrive. This will make sure you can get access to the money you need to set yourself up for success. Keep reading to learn the best ways to build up your credit as a new resident or immigrant to Canada.
Credit scores in Canada are used by lenders, employers and homeowners to figure out how much they can trust you to pay your bills on time. Lenders and credit card companies use them to decide how much money you’re eligible to borrow. They can also be a factor in whether you get approved or denied when you’re applying for a new job or a place to rent.
If you have no credit history or a low credit score, it can affect many facets of your life in a negative way. This is why you’ll want to begin establishing a solid credit score as soon as you arrive in Canada.
How do credit scores work?
Credit scores in Canada are calculated using a complex formula that’s unique to each credit bureau. That said, they’re fairly easy to understand in simple terms once the math is done.
When you apply for your credit score, the number you get back will typically range between 300 and 900 points. You’ll be able to qualify for different financial products based on where you sit.
Check the following breakdown to get a better idea of how your credit score can impact your ability to qualify for financing.
Ability to qualify
720 to 900 points
Easy to qualify for loans and credit cards with low interest rates
650 to 720 points
Easy to qualify for loans and other financial products but you’ll pay higher interest
600 to 649 points
More difficult to qualify for financing, and you may be rejected by some lenders
300 to 599 points
Not possible in some cases to get financing unless you go through a bad credit lender
Tips to improve your credit score
There are a number of steps you can take to improve your credit score as a newcomer to Canada. When you first arrive in the country, you won’t have a history of established credit but you may be able to work with the banks to get financing if you have a large amount of savings. You can also take the following steps to build up your credit.
- Apply for a secured credit card: One of the best ways to build your credit is to pay for your purchases with a credit card. If you have no credit history, you may need to apply for a secured credit card to start building your credit. This type of card is backed by a cash deposit you put down as collateral on the account to protect the credit card issuer if you can’t make your payments.
- Get financing from a private or bad credit lender: If you get declined for financing with the big banks in Canada, you might have more luck with a private or bad credit lender. These lenders usually charge higher rates, but their regulations for financing are typically less strict so you might find it easier to get approved.
- Apply for a credit builder loan: You might also like to check out a credit-builder loan if you want to build your credit score faster. These types of loans are typically offered by credit unions or bad credit lenders. They work by tracking your on-time payments and reporting them to the credit bureau so that your score goes up every time you make a payment.
- Find a cosigner: If you’re an immigrant to Canada with family or friends in the country, you might be able to ask them to help you by cosigning a loan if they have good to excellent credit. This will let you bring down your interest rates on whatever loan you apply for. The bank will also be more likely to approve your loan because your cosigner will bring your perceived risk levels down.
- Mix up your credit types: If you’re new to Canada, one of the best ways to establish a credit score is to take out multiple forms of credit. This could include a small loan, a line of credit and a credit card. You’ll also be able to build your credit faster if you can qualify for a mortgage or take out a lease on a vehicle. You’ll just need to make sure that you make on-time payments for the best results.
- Make on-time payments: The best way to build up your credit score is to make on-time payments. Missing or defaulting on a payment can bring your score down immediately. This is because your payment history accounts for roughly 35% of your credit score. You should also try to pay your credit card balances off in full every month to save money on interest and improve your chances of getting financing in the future.
How to get your credit score?
It’s easy to get access to your credit score by following a couple of simple steps. The process for applying for your credit score can be done online or through the mail and you shouldn’t have to pay a fee in most cases.
- Choose which credit bureau you want to use. You’ll be able to apply for your credit score with two of Canada’s major credit bureaus: Equifax and TransUnion. You can do this by applying through their websites.
- Fill out a request to obtain your credit score. You’ll need to provide proof of ID and fill out your personal information to get access to your score. This includes your full name, address and previous addresses you’ve held in the past three to five years.
- Choose a delivery method. You can have your credit score delivered by mail if you don’t want to pay for it. You’ll also be able to request to see your score online for a fee.
Understanding how your credit score can impact your ability to get financing is an important part of integrating into Canadian society. Learn how you can build your credit score up faster and find out how this can benefit your financial situation in the short and long term.