Two credit bureaus operate in Canada: Equifax and Transunion. As a resident, you are entitled to 1 free credit report per year. The report will include information held by the credit bureau about you, such as bank accounts, credit cards, lines of credit, and mortgages.
If you are a US citizen, the credit burears are Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. You are entitled to 1 free credit report per 12 months, available only at annualcreditreport.com as enacted by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) .
Credit Report with Score
The free report does not include your credit score, which potential lenders use to review your credit worthiness.
Recieve Your Credit Report
Credit bureaus operate differently and may have slightly different information on your report. Therefore, it is recommended to obtain your credit report from both. Complete and submit the forms below to receive your credit report. Generally, it will take about 1-2 weeks to process and receive in the mail. If you would like to receive your credit report immediately, or receive your credit score, you must pay for this access.
What do you do with your credit report?
1. Review for errors/ommisions:
Let’s face it, credit bureaus make mistakes. In addition, they sometimes don't have all the information. So take the time to dissect your report in detail. As lenders will make decisions based on your report and credit score, it is prudent to keep this accurate. Check your address, employer information and contact details, in addition to outstanding credit from mortgages, credit cards, and lines of credit.
2. Prune inactive accounts:
Do you sign up for credit cards to get a retailer discount and never used the card after? When you have multiple inactive accounts with available credit, you sending a signal that you can't get credit from one source so need to get it from multiple providers. Why have 4 cards with credit limits under $1,000 when you can manage your credit better with 1 or 2 cards with a total credit limit of $4,000. Save yourself the administrative burden of keeping track of a plethora of cards and the various due dates to pay them off on time. Make sure you get documented proof that the balance has been paid in full before closing the account.
However, before you close all credit cards but one, your credit score is positively impacted by a healthy mix of credit - mortgage, line of credit, credit cards, etc. Each credit should be used at least once every 6 months to keep it active, and pay the balance in full by the due date.
For certain individuals and families it is preferable to have 2, or even 3 credit cards to meet everyday payment needs. Select a primary card that you receive rewards to meet your objectives, and then have a secondary/backup card at a separate provider. You will be happy you did when your primary card is stolen, tampered, or locked!
3. Compare borrowing to credit limit:
Are you consistently maxing out your credit limit on multiple cards? This will decrease your credit score. Rather, aim to spend at most 30-35% of your credit limit on each card. This signals to lenders that you are disciplined and can manage your credit.
4. Keep payments up to date:
As much as possible, train yourself to make the mortgage payments on time and pay at least the minimum on credit card and lines of credit balances. If you miss a payment even by a few days, it will be reported to the credit bureau and affect your credit score.
5. Look for ways to improve your credit score:
Review your report from the standpoint of a lender. Your credit score is based on: payments made on due date, use of the credit limits and exceeding the limits, how much you owe in proportion to the credit you have available, duration of cards held, mix of cards, and improve your score by:
Get into the discipline of paying your bills on time (by spending less than you earn)
Determine your approach to using credit card - setting a primary card and secondary card
Build a credit history by using credit cards for their purpose, and fully pay the balance before the due date
For further information, learn how to understand your credit report and credit score