I want to get a credit card

How can you check your credit record?

Your credit record is the reflection of your financial behaviour. If it is bad (payments that are late, partial or not made at all), you may find it very difficult to obtain any type of loan (car loan, line of credit or credit card). Your could even have trouble renting an apartment, or landing a job. How can you get hold of your credit record and see what it says about you?

There are two main credit agencies in Canada that you need to contact: Equifax and TransUnion.

Free option by mail

On the TransUnion site, select the Consumer Disclosure option to find out how to obtain your credit report by mail or in person.

On the Equifax site, selct the option You can receive a free credit file disclosure from Equifax Canada inc. via Canada Post.

In all cases, you must provide a copy of official documents proving your identity, such as your driver's license, health insurance card or passport. See the list of accepted documents on the forms.

Allow a few days, or even weeks, to receive your report. It will contain your history of bill payments and loan repayments, such as credit card payments. You will also see the list of companies that you have authorized to consult your record.

Chargeable option on the Web

The free version of the credit record does not include your "credit score". This is the "rating" calculated by the credit agencies. It tells lenders about the probability of your being late in maing your loan payments.

A report containing your record and your credit score will be given to you if you agree to pay a fee (between $15 and $24). Access is almost instantaneous. You will need a credit card to pay the transaction fee. This may be useful if you want to find out the probability of your being granted a loan. You can visit the Office of Consumer Affairs website to find out what credit scores mean.

Is a company offering you to give you a copy of your credit file free of charge?

Beware of companies that offer to give you your credit score and record free of charge. Such companies may try to sell you services that you don't need, such as monitoring your credit record all year long for monthly fees that can amount annualy to several hundreds of dollars.