How to improve your credit

Laurie Campbell, executive director at Credit Canada, a non-profit credit-counselling organization, shares her tips for maintaining a sterling credit rating

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Do limit the number of credit cards you hold, even if you carry little or no balance. Creditors are more likely to see a number of cards with unused balances as a potential liability.

Do talk to a creditor before applying for a mortgage or a credit card to establish what they want in a client, such as longevity at a job or home address, and decide whether you will meet those criteria.

Do check with credit reporting agencies, such as Equifax Canada and Trans-Union of Canada, before applying for your plastic. This way, you can learn how your rating might have gone awry and you can correct any errors. It can take weeks to correct an inaccurate report.

Don’t skip payments or miss bill due dates. Late payments and carried debt will adversely impact your credit rating because you’re becoming a riskier investment.

Don’t “improve” your credit rating by running up debt. It’s a misconception that you always need to be building up and paying off debt to make yourself a better candidate for a loan. When it comes to a credit rating, Campbell says, less debt is always better.

Don’t “shop” for credit cards by making multiple applications. Creditors may wonder why you need all that credit, and getting turned down for any of them may cause more rejections.