The importance of a high credit score is, unfortunately, lost on many borrowers, but with a little discipline and dedication, they can get back on track.
Everything from paying extra fees to larger down payments are some of the consequences borrowers with bruised credit contend with, and according to CanWise Financial’s President James Laird, it’s imperative that clients are taught the finer points of responsible payment.
“If it’s not a bankruptcy sheet and not a consumer proposal, we most commonly see borrowers who have balances over their limit, so while it’s somewhat counterintuitive, get a higher limit because it helps your credit score if your spending habits don’t change,” he said. “Someone who spends the exact same amount of money—let’s say $2,200 with a $10,000 limit—you have an excellent score, but if your limit is $2,000 your credit is being severely damaged.”
Speaking of counterintuitive, Laird advises clients trying to rehabilitate their credit not to make payments before the end of the month. If it’s paid too quickly, it’s like the money was never owed in the first place.
“Sometimes we see the most organized people pay off their credit card right before the month turns over, and in that case, credit companies will stop reporting to the bureau,” continued Laird. “If you pay it off the same month you spend it, it’s like you’re not paying any money. Let the month turn over and make your payment during the interest-free period—like within 10 days or whatever you have—because you have to show that you owe a bit and that you’re diligent at making payments. If you pay it off before the end of the month, it’s like you never owed the money.”
In the case of bankrupts, their credit facilities will have been closed down, and Laird recommends getting two new ones that report to the credit bureau so that rehabilitation can begin.
“It’s important to get new credit facilities up and going as soon as possible after you’ve had an issue,” said Laird. “We recommend that if someone has gone through bankruptcy or a consumer proposal, they can still get a prepaid VISA, and most of those report to the bureau, and that will start repairing your credit score.”
Daniel Johanis, a Rock Capital Investments broker, always reminds clients with bruised credit that their utilization must be 50-70%.
“If it hits 90% or higher, it’s showing the bank that your ability to repay outstanding debt is challenged because you’re at the point where you’re a higher risk for missing a payment or not meeting your monthly debt obligation.”
For borrowers well on their way to repairing bruised credit but who may have been hit with by an unforeseen, and expensive, circumstance, Johanis recommends making a call to the bank or credit holder.
“Making a simple call and saying ‘I’m behind and I need to get caught up, so can we figure out a repayment plan?’ is surprisingly effective,” he said. “They’ll often work with you because they don’t want you to default. It’s always worth giving the credit holder a call to see if they can do anything. It buys you time.”