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Building up a credit rating

To develop healthy borrowing habits is to prepare yourself for the future. Borrowing allows you to deal with unforeseen expenses and to help make ends meet when necessary. However, you should think twice before borrowing and use it carefully. If you can't afford what you want or what you need and you buy on credit, make sure to pay your debts on time.

Build and protect your credit rating

When you develop good borrowing habits, you build up a credit history based on how you manage your credit. This personal history is known as a “credit rating” and contains information on whether you make your credit related payments on time (credit cards and loans) and on your history of bankruptcies. All your past financial activities will influence your financial institution's decision on whether or not to grant you financing in the future. Your credit history shows lenders whether or not they can trust you.

One little thing that might seem unimportant today could have a major impact later on when you want to buy a car or a house or even get the funding you need to start a business. Moreover, before renting out an apartment, many landlords now do background checks on your credit rating.

You should be aware that a few missed payments now could have serious consequences on future loan applications: your financial institution may charge a higher interest rate, require a guarantor or even a refuse to grant a loan. In short, it's easier to start building a good credit rating now than to rebuild it in the future.

A few tips on how to take your credit well in hands

Here are a few tips on how to establish and maintain a good credit rating:

  • Sign up for a systematic savings plan so you develop good savings habits and offset any unforeseen expenses.
  • Pay your credit card bill in full each month.
  • Pay your bills every month (electricity, phone, cable, etc.) and fulfill all your financial obligations.
  • If the repayment terms of one of your loans are too restrictive, contact your financial institution before you end up defaulting on a payment.
  • Find out all the terms and limits that apply to your account (e.g., account freezes), your credit card or ATM card (PIN confidentiality, what to do in case your card is lost or stolen, etc.).
  • Only accept credit card offers that truly meet your needs, because some cards (like those for department or warehouse stores) come with relatively high interest rates.
  • Don't keep too many credit cards. That way it's easier to keep track of your finances.
  • Check out your credit file held by Equifax and Transunion regularly to make sure it contains no errors.

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