True or False? Credit Scores Matter for Newcomers

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We often hear how necessary building a credit history is to settling into Canada.It is a key part of the process used to determine whether a person is eligible for a loan, including how much one can borrow. In addition to borrowing, credit history is often required for day to day living needs like setting up utilities or a cell phone, buying a car, buying or renting a home, to name a few. Nearly half (45%) of South Asian and Chinese immigrants (who have lived in Canada for 5 years or less) reveal their financials needs are much more complex than in their home country. The sentiment is truer among South Asian newcomers (56%) and those that arrived to Canada in the past year (66%).

Why credit score matters:
Canada’s central credit bureaus gather information from all the lenders that you do business with to determine your credit score.The better the credit score, the more likely you are to qualify for credit.

Your credit rating is based on your record of managing your finances responsibly. Lenders look at how you handle your financial obligations, such as whether you pay your monthly bills on time, carry a balance, or regularly miss payments.

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Many newcomers to Canada are surprised at how important credit scores are, or how they work.The credit system in Canada may not always take into account financial history in another country andthe concept of building a credit history can be unfamiliar, especially in places where cash or your bank balance is the most important financial consideration.

What you can do:
One of the first things you should do if you are new to Canada, is gain a better understanding of Canada’s financial system. Speak with an RBC Advisor, take the time to ask the important questions and do everything you can to immerse yourself in the Canadian system. In fact, according to the poll, newcomers would encourage others in their situation to go to the branch (39%) or meet with a financial planner (34%) to get free financial advice. Another one –third (29%) would encourage people to sign up for free financial literacy sessions to learn about banking in Canada.

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Do you understand credit scores?
Test your knowledge with the following True or False statements:

  • Everyone needs their own credit score.
    TRUE: Your credit score is yours and yours alone. If you are married, you both need credit in your name in order to establish a credit score. If your credit card, car loan or mortgage is in your spouse’s name only, you are missing a valuable opportunity to build your own credit score. You can’t rely on your spouse’s credit history for your personal credit needs.
  • Credit history data stays on your ranking forever.
    FALSE: In Canada, data stays on your credit rating for seven years.
    Missed payments show on your credit score.
    TRUE: Credit scores are maintained by credit reporting agencies, and include whether you have paid your bills such as utilities, mobile phone and credit cardon time, if you have missed payments, and if you have outstanding debt. Over time, this data will form a pattern of how well you pay back – or don’t pay – your debt. This is why it is so important to pay at least the minimum payment on all of your bills, on time, even if they seem small or insignificant.
  • My credit history from my home country will be reflected in my Canadian Credit Score.
    FALSE: Your credit score in Canada starts with your activity here in Canada; for example the first time you borrow money, set up utilities, or purchase a cell phone.
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Understand your credit score:
One last tip: It’s a good idea to check your own credit history once a year by requesting a report from one of Canada’s credit bureaus TransUnion or Equifax. This will not only help you track how you are doing, but also help you detect any errors and protect yourself against identity fraud by ensuring the information is accurate.
Understanding the credit system in Canada is the first step in creating a solid financial footing in your new home. – CINEWS

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