Credit Score Intact Through COVID-19 Pandemic | Refresh Financial

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Make it through the COVID-19 pandemic with your credit score still intact

credit score increase

A good credit score helps you get approved for credit at much lower interest rates than if you have a poor score. In fact, with a poor credit score, you might not get approved for credit at all! For the many people who have been working hard to create a better financial future for themselves by increasing their credit score, the coronavirus has halted their efforts in their tracks, and now might also be working against their score. 

It’s important to understand that your credit score is impacted by your behaviours when it comes to credit and debt, not the economy as a whole. So, even though you may be struggling financially, with the right actions you can keep your score unaffected. 

Here we take a look at how Canadians can weather this storm and make it through COVID-19 with their credit score intact. 

Check Your Credit Report

If you’re actively trying to increase your credit score, you’re probably already doing this. It is especially important to stay on top of your credit report during this challenging time so you can identify potential mistakes before they negatively impact your credit score. Check out these common mistakes on your credit report. If you see a mistake, reach out to the creditor immediately. 

Make On-Time Payments

Continue at all possible to make regularly scheduled payments on-time, even if it is just the minimum payment on your credit card. On-time payment history accounts for 35% of your score. If keeping your score intact is top of your priority list, cut some of your expenses or lower your grocery bill to do everything you can to make your payments. This will ensure that your credit score continues to grow. It might even be necessary to dip into your savings to pay your bills. The interest you will pay on your overdue bills is higher than the interest your savings are earning you. Credit is debt that continues to grow, so you may need to put your holiday plans on hold, and use those savings to get through the pandemic. 

Consider Deferring Payments If You Can’t Pay Your Bills 

If you’re unable to make on-time payments, contact the lender as soon as possible. Many lenders are allowing deferrals of mortgage payments or car payments for up to six months to help people meet their financial obligations. 

Similarly, some credit card companies are also offering some relief, waiving late fees and stalling interest charges. Check with your credit card issuer to see what financial relief they offer. 

Keep in mind that your interest may continue to accrue while you delay these payments which will increase your monthly payments when the deferral period ends. But the good news is at least your credit score should remain intact. 

Do Not Take On Any New Debt

30% of your score is impacted by your credit usage percentage, which is the total amount of credit you have to your name versus how much of it you have used. So, if you have a $1000 credit card limit, and you have $300 worth of charges on it, your credit usage percentage is 30%. Anything over 30% is going to start hurting your score, as lenders interpret this as a sign that you are relying too heavily on credit to get by. Therefore, try not to take on any extra debt, especially if you’re struggling to pay it down. 

Do Not Apply for New Credit Cards

It may be tempting to apply for more credit cards to try and make it through these challenging times, but credit inquiries make up 10% of your score, so the more credit inquiries on your credit report, the more your score will go down. 

Unless you’re considering a balance transfer...

Consider A Balance Transfer

Oftentimes, a new credit card company will offer you a lower interest rate on balances that you transfer from another card. These lower rates are usually temporary - for around 6 months - but this could help significantly during the coronavirus pandemic. With lower interest rates, you will be able to pay more towards your principal. 

 

COVID-19 has proved devastating for many areas of the Canadian economy but it doesn’t need to impact your personal credit score, as long as you are keeping it top of mind, and are proactively taking necessary steps to prevent negative consequences. 

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If you are looking for a way to give your credit building efforts a boost, check out Refresh Financial's credit building programs. We offer customer credit building solutions to meet your needs!

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