What is a good credit score?

 

A good credit score starts at a base rating of 650 and goes as high as 900. The higher your score, the more trustworthy you seem to banks, lenders, employers, even landlords.

TransUnion and Equifax, Canada’s two major credit reporting agencies, calculate your credit score and use it to gauge how likely you are to make payments on a credit card or a loan. A good score means credit agencies and financial institutions consider you a reliable borrower because you are likely to handle debt loads responsibly. So if you have a rating of 650 or above, you’re considered low-risk. Once you hit 750, you’re in the “excellent” range, which is often lumped into the “good” category.

 
 
 
 
300
575
650
750
900
Bad
Fair
Good
Excellent

How a good credit score affects your finances

 

A good credit score is your gateway to the best financial products.

Banks and lenders look at your credit score (and your credit report) to see how reliable you are as a borrower and to decide whether or not you qualify for their products. Lucky for you, good credit scores are viewed the most favourably, and not just when it comes to scoring the best credit cards or lowest interest rates.

A high score can give you an advantage when you pursue any of these financial milestones.

Financial goalThe impact of your credit score
Getting a credit cardA good credit score gives you access to premium cards with generous rewards and exclusive perks. And the higher your score gets, the more competitive your credit card options become.
Qualifying for a loanA good credit score helps you qualify for the lowest interest rates on personal loans and car loans — you’ll also have your pick of banks and lenders when you apply. Just remember to negotiate for the lowest interest rate on your loan; a good credit score gives you extra negotiating power.
Renting a homeA good credit score improves the chances of your rental application being accepted. Landlords may reject applicants with credit scores less than 650.
Buying a homeA good credit score can help you get a lower mortgage rate from a major bank or other lender. The best rates are usually reserved for consumers with good credit scores, but you can also negotiate a cheaper mortgage. Remember: a high score shows that you’re a low-risk borrower.
Landing a jobA good credit score may help you secure a job offer. In Canada, if you’re applying for a role as a civil servant or in the financial services industry, you may be required to pass a credit check.

Top credit card recommendations for Canadians with good credit

 

Don’t miss out on the benefits of having a good credit score. Credit cards with generous rewards or competitive perks will only be available to those with the best credit. So if your score is 650 or higher, consider upgrading to one of these premium cards or using our credit card filters to see what other cards you can get with good credit or excellent credit.

MBNA Rewards Mastercard®
Fees and interest
Annual fee
$0
Purchase interest rate
19.99%
Cash advance rate
24.99%
Balance transfer rate
0%
21.99% after 6 months

An excellent rewards card for Canadians with good credit, the MBNA Rewards MasterCard offers you the best of both worlds: a $0 fee and the ability to earn 1 MBNA Rewards point for each $1 you spend on eligible purchases. To sweeten the deal, you also get 5,000 bonus MBNA Rewards points when you sign up and make your first eligible purchase — worth a cool $50. If you have a credit score of 650 and above, this is the perfect everyday card.

Peoples Trust Secured Mastercard®
Fees and interest
Annual fee
$0
Purchase interest rate
19.99%
Cash advance rate
21.99%
Balance transfer rate
1.99%
21.99% after 6 months

With a good credit score, you can take advantage of the SimplyCash Card from American Express. Amex is stepping up its rewards game in Canada with this new card, which offers an eye-popping 5% back on eligible purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants for the first six months (up to $250). Once your Welcome Rate ends, you get to enjoy a great 1.25% cash back rate on all other purchases.

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
Fees and interest
Annual fee
$0
Purchase interest rate
19.95%
Cash advance rate
19.95%
Balance transfer rate
19.95%

A good credit score deserves a good cash back rate. With Tangerine, you can customize your cash back rewards by choosing two categories to earn 2% cash back on — possible categories include groceries, drug stores, or furniture. And the good news is you’ll still be able to earn money back on everything else, with a 0.5% return on all other purchases.

Scotia Momentum® VISA Infinite*
Fees and interest
Annual fee
$99
$0 for the first year
Purchase interest rate
19.99%
Cash advance rate
22.99%
Balance transfer rate
22.99%

Is your credit score above 750? If yes, you’re in the excellent credit score range and can take advantage of this premium credit card from Scotiabank. You get 4% cash back on eligible gas station and grocery store purchases, and 2% back on drug store purchases and recurring bill payments. Everything else nets you a 1% return. Plus, this card lets members enjoy exclusive events like the VISA Infinite Dining Series, which gives you access to unique dining experiences at some of Canada’s top restaurants.

How do I get (or maintain) a good credit score?

 

Whether you’re working to improve your score or trying to maintain your already flawless record, there are certain habits you should develop to keep your score up.

Keep paying your bills on time

Your payment history is one of the biggest factors TransUnion and Equifax evaluate when they calculate your score. If you’ve got good credit, you probably already make prompt payments on all your bills. Ensure you’re always on time by setting up automatic payments and using phone or calendar reminders.

Watch your credit utilization ratio

Your credit utilization ratio is how much credit card debt you have relative to how high your credit limit is. If you’ve got a good credit score, you’ve likely managed to keep this ratio low. Don’t max out your debts or dramatically increase this ratio — credit reporting agencies like to know you have flexibility if something goes wrong.

Don’t cancel credit cards

This is tied to your credit history and your credit utilization ratio. Every time you cancel a credit card, your ratio goes up because you just lowered the maximum amount of borrowing room you have relative to your debt. The credit history associated with the cancelled card will also be removed from your credit report. Only sign up for credit cards you need to help avoid these problems.

Use the right financial products

Good credit opens up the door to all the best products, so you don’t have to settle for credit cards or loans with high interest rates; your score is your negotiating power. Keep improving your number by actively using your credit card and paying off your bills every month.

Haven’t checked your credit score yet?

 

Check your credit score for free right here — we promise that the process is secure and private. Requesting your score also won’t affect it at all, so feel free to look at it as often as you like.