Rebuilding your credit

Even if you have made money mistakes in the past, you can rebuild your credit history and become a borrower in good standing. It is important to have a good credit history if you want to borrow money. The better your credit report and score, the more likely you are to be approved for a loan and receive a favorable interest rate.

However, you have harmed your credit history and score if:

  • you did not pay at least the minimum balance on your debts
  • you made late payments
  • you went over your credit limit
  • you missed one or several payments
  • you stopped making payments altogether
  • you have too much credit and you use it
  • your debt was referred to collection
  • you made a consumer or Division I proposal
  • you declared bankruptcy.

A bad credit report and score can mean you do not get approved for a loan, or you do not receive a favorable interest rate on your loan.

How to rebuild your credit history

  1. Apply for a secured credit card. Secured credit cards require you to leave a deposit with the credit card issuer as a guarantee. The deposit is usually equivalent to the card limit, but can be higher. For instance, if you want a limit of $500, you may be asked to leave a deposit of $500. Once you’ve shown that you pay the balance regularly and have built a payment history, you can ask that the security requirement be dropped and that the deposit be returned.
  2. Make at least the minimum payment by the due date. If you cannot pay off your balance in full each month, make at least the minimum payment on each of your debts on time. Late payments will count against you and negatively impact your credit score and credit report.
  3. Do not apply for too many credit and loan products. Having too much credit can also negatively affect your credit report. Try to use less than 35 percent of your available credit. Do not fill in too many applications for credit and loans because every time you do, your credit history is checked. Each credit check can affect your credit score.
  4. Review your statements. When you are in debt, avoiding your monthly statements may cost you. Mistakes happen and you only have a limited time to correct them. Always review your statements to make sure there are no transactions charged in error and that your payments are recorded correctly. Report any mistakes as soon as possible.
  5. Check your credit report. You can order a free copy of your credit report from either one of Canada’s two credit rating agencies, Equifax and TransUnion. Keep in mind that each agency may have different information about you in their files so check your credit report from both agencies at least once a year for possible errors and get them corrected as soon as possible. Consider requesting your report from one agency and then waiting six months before you order from the other agency. By spacing out your requests in this way, you may be able to detect any problems sooner.

Prepaid cards do not help you build credit. You may choose to use a prepaid card as a payment option, but its use is not tracked by the credit rating agencies.

Use credit responsibly

There are no quick fixes to repairing your credit history. You have to prove you are a responsible borrower to lenders, and that may take time. Whether you are rebuilding your credit history, or trying to maintain a good credit score, you should always use credit responsibly.

Related resources