What is the minimum credit score for credit card approval?

Find out about minimum eligibility requirements and learn how to turn back the clock if your credit score is impacting your financial health.

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If you’re looking to buy your first home, lease a new vehicle or take out a second credit card, you should know how your credit score will affect your application. We’ll help you learn about credit scores in Canada, as well as what you should watch out for and who to contact if you want to find out more about your personal score.

Credit score requirements

Credit scores in Canada range from 300 to 900 points, but most credit bureaus say a decent score starts at around 650. Anything above this number should qualify you for a standard loan or credit card, while anything below might cause you headaches when it comes to taking advantage of credit. Where you sit on the scale will determine your general ability to qualify for lending or credit requests.

Credit scoreRatingMeaning
760-900ExcellentYou should have very few problems getting a credit card, loan or mortgage.
725-759Very goodYour score is good enough to apply for most credit products.
660-724GoodYou have good credit but may not be eligible for the lowest interest rates.
560-659FairYou may need to build up your score before you can get some forms of credit.
300-559PoorYour credit needs work, but you can potentially qualify for credit builder programs.

Scores you need to apply for popular Canadian credit cards

Credit cards come with different eligibility requirements, including different minimum credit scores to apply. However, we’ve put together the list below showing the minimum credit scores you’ll need to apply for some of the more popular cards on the market. Check with the card provider for more information on eligibility requirements and card specs.

Card nameMinimum credit scoreLearn more
TD Emerald Flex Rate Visa Card*N/A

Interest rate is based on your credit score

Scotiabank American Express Card650+
American Express Gold Rewards CardGood, Excellent
American Express Cobalt CardFair, Good, Excellent
TD Cash Back Visa Infinite Card*Good to Excellent
BMO CashBack World Elite MastercardExcellent
The Platinum Card from American ExpressGood, Excellent
TD Aeroplan Visa Platinum Card*Good to Excellent
ScotiaGold Passport Visa Card650+
Tangerine World Mastercard650+
TD Platinum Travel Visa Card*Good to Excellent
Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card650+
BMO CashBack MastercardGood
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card650+
TD Rewards Visa Card*Good to Excellent
American Express AIR MILES Gold Business CardFair, Good, Excellent
Scotia Momentum Visa Card650+
Please note: All information about TD credit cards has been collected independently by Finder. These credit cards are not available through this site.

What cards can I get if I have poor or fair credit?

If you’re sitting below 650 on this scale, there are many things you can do to help build up your credit rating and some forms of credit that you’ll still be eligible for in the meantime.

  • Secured credit cards. For this type of card, you’ll need to put down a deposit. This becomes your credit limit and is used to secure the balance on your account. If you default on your payments, the bank can use your deposit to pay off your outstanding balance. Otherwise, you’ll get it back when you close down your account.
  • Low-interest credit cards. These cards let you save money on interest rates. This can come in handy if you’re struggling to pay off your principal balance because most of your payments are going towards interest.
  • Prepaid credit cards. If you want to spend only what you put down on your card, you can try a prepaid card. The only issue with these cards is your payments aren’t reported to the credit bureaus, so they won’t help you to rebuild your credit. The upside is just about anyone can qualify, so you’ll still be able to access the benefits of having a credit card, like being able to make purchases online.
  • Store credit cards. Some department store cards have more-relaxed requirements and may not even check your credit score. Even though these cards may seem like a good option, it’s important to note they often come with higher interest rates and fees.
  • Credit builder cards. These cards are designed for those who want to rebuild their credit. They typically offer lower interest rates and report all of your on-time payments to the credit bureau. Every time they report a payment, you get another notch added to your credit score.

If you can’t qualify for a card and you need money for an emergency, you might want to consider asking a friend or family member for help or consider a short term personal loan. If you’re really struggling, the next step might be to look into a credit counselling program which can help you consolidate your debt and get your head back above water.

How to improve your credit score

  • Use credit often. It might seem counterintuitive, but the more you use your card the faster you can build up your score, so long as you keep up with payments.
  • Make payments on time. Your payment history accounts for roughly 35% of your credit score so it’s important to be consistent.
  • Pay your balance off each month. Pay your balance off in full every month to improve your score and save money on interest.
  • Mix up your credit types. Make on-time payments on a variety of debts, including credit cards, mortgages, loans and leases.
  • Avoid applying for too much credit. Make sure you only apply for credit you absolutely need, since every credit check on your account will drag down your score.
  • Keep a low balance on multiple cards. Avoid consolidating your debts onto one card because it can max out your limit and damage your score.
  • Don’t cancel old credit cards. Instead of cancelling a card you no longer want, you should freeze your account but keep it open. This maintains your total credit amount and the length of your credit history.
  • Correct errors in your credit report. Contact the credit bureau if you notice an error on your report and ask it to fix it.

Repair your credit score

Name Product Price per month Credit scores Credit monitoring Credit reports Update frequency
Marble Financial Score-Up
$49.99, $66.99 or $99.99
TransUnion
Equifax
Yes
TransUnion
Equifax
Monthly
Score-Up uses software to help you build or rebuild your credit score. Set targets, access your credit score anytime, monitor your progress and find out what actions you should take to increase your score as quickly as possible.
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How to get your credit score?

Checking your credit score is the first step to improving your credit, since it will give you an idea of where you stand. It’s also important to find out what your credit score is to avoid rejected applications which can lower your score. 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.

  1. Choose which credit bureau you want to use. Canadian credit scores are calculated by two major credit bureaus: Equifax and TransUnion. You can apply using their websites.
  2. Fill out a request to obtain your credit score. You’ll need to fill out some personal information, including your full name, address and previous addresses held in the last 3-5 years. Make sure to provide proof of your current address.
  3. Provide proof of identity. The credit bureau will need you to supply a photocopy of two pieces of government-issued ID, including driver’s licence, health card, birth certificate, passport or bank statement.
  4. Choose delivery method. The most common way to receive your credit score is by mail. You can also request to see your score online for a fee. If you live in Eastern Canada, you may be able to visit a credit bureau in person.

Get your credit score

Name Product Starting price Trial period Price per month Credit scores Credit monitoring Credit reports Update frequency
Credit Verify
$1
7 days
$19.95
TransUnion
Yes
TransUnion
Monthly
Instantly access your credit score and report online and get daily alerts and updates. Plus, premium members get $25 in bonus rewards every month which can be used towards discounts on everything from shopping and entertainment to dining and travel.
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Bottom line

Understanding your credit score can give you a leg up when it comes to improving your credit situation. It can also help ease the stress of applying for new credit when the time comes, since you’ll know whether or not you’ll be able to qualify.

Frequently asked questions

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