How do you really improve your credit scores? It’s the million dollar question that is best answered by a Credit Officer – which is why we sat down with one of our very own Wise Ones to learn more about practicing good credit behaviour.
Meet Jaymee Belleza, a Credit & Fraud Officer here at Wisr who analyses credit scores and looks at financial history every day. She’s here to share her tips – not secrets! ;) – for keeping your score in shape (which is important especially if you’re thinking about applying for credit).
Plus, we’re super stoked to share that Jaymee was nominated as a finalist for the 2020 Women in Banking and Finance ‘Rising Star’ Award this year!
Here are some of her top tips to help you level up your credit behaviour.
Q1: What’s the first step someone can take to improve or maintain a good credit score?
Tip: “Know where you stand.”
Jaymee: The first step to improving and maintaining good credit scores is knowing what they are. It’s a common misconception that checking your credit score hurts your score, but that’s not true. Checking your credit score with WisrCredit will not impact your scores at all! The WisrCredit service makes a ‘soft enquiry’ known as an Access Seeker with participating credit reporting bureaus. This means that any credit score check will technically touch your credit profile but will not impact your scores. In fact, it appears as someone being responsible for taking initiative.
From there, the next step is to create a plan to improve or maintain a good score. Many people don’t know what factors actually impact their scores. Things like how old your credit file is, how frequently you apply for credit and paying debts on time all may make a difference.
WisrCredit works in the background, notifying you of any changes to your scores that can update monthly - so it’s simply ‘set and forget’ with some smarts.
Q2: Could you share one piece of advice you would give to someone looking to improve their credit scores?
Tip: “Be realistic about your financial position.”
Jaymee: Be honest and transparent with yourself about your financial position. This can be hard to do, especially if you’re in a tough spot – but it’s important to really look at your finances and understand how you’re doing. Credit scores are an indicator of risk – so try to put yourself in the shoes of a lender when you look at your scores. Think carefully about the types of credit you’ve applied for in the past and take some time to reflect on how well you’re managing your debts. Make sure to be cautious of payday lenders and other sources of credit that seem too good to be true.
Did you know that some retail credit cards may also affect your score? Learn more about that here.
Telecommunication and utility providers can place enquiries on your credit scores too. Checking periodically on your credit report is the best way to keep tabs on what factors might be impacting your scores.
Q3: As a Credit Officer, what’s one thing that most people don’t know about their credit scores?
Tip: “Be aware of your credit behaviours.”
Jaymee: “Shopping around” for credit can affect your credit scores. Did you know that the more you apply for credit – especially within a short period of time – can impact your scores? This is because some credit providers make ‘hard’ inquiries into your credit profile when you start a loan application.
We also asked Jaymee to debunk a few common myths about credit scores.
“I pay all my bills on time, so I must have perfect credit scores.”
Jaymee: You hear this one a lot. Just because you pay all your bills on time, does not mean you will have perfect credit scores. Since your credit scores take into account multiple factors, even if you paid all your bills on time you might have other behaviours which could be negatively impacting you. This could be applying frequently for credit cards or payday loans for example.
“I don’t have any debt or have never applied for credit, so I must have perfect credit scores.”
Jaymee: If only that were the case! In fact, some people who haven’t had any credit activity, may not even have a credit profile at all! This doesn’t mean they automatically have ‘perfect scores’, it just means no credit file has yet been created with their personal details – so they have no active credit history.
Because your credit scores are like a report card for your credit behaviour, lenders and other credit providers often use this as a gauge to evaluate your application for credit. Having no credit history at all may be considered less desirable compared to someone with strong credit history.
Check out our blog post about common credit score myths and see if you're guilty of believing any.
Thanks Jaymee for sharing your tips!
We know that managing your personal finances can seem overwhelming but the first step is to know where you stand. Take control of your credit behaviour by educating yourself and checking your credit scores now on WisrCredit.