Understanding your Credit Scores
Your credit score is an estimate of your ability to fulfill financial commitments. In 2010, the government of Jamaica passed the Credit Reporting Act which permits financial institutions to request a report on individuals requiring a loan. Since then, an increasing number of companies are requesting credit reports to determine if a potential client is a viable business prospect.
Ransford Davidson, JN Business Relationship and Sales Manager, demystifies Credit Reports and Credit Scores.
Q: What makes up my credit score?
A: Your credit score is determined by the total amounts you currently owe; your payment history; the way you utilize available credit; the length of your credit history; and the type of credit mix you already have. Credit bureaus use a mathematical formula to make the calculations and you receive a numerical score.
Q: Do all credit bureaus give each person the same score?
A: No, the ranges differ for each bureau. However, as a general rule, a high score is a good score. Jamaica National uses Credinfo. With their ratings, 640 – 900 is a good score, which means you are potentially a low risk client and that puts you in good standing for a loan. A score of 250 – 513 puts you in the category of ‘very high risk’.
Q: How can I ensure that I achieve and maintain a favorable credit score?
A: Two key factors are to service your debts on time, and to limit the number of credit cards you use. More credit cards increase the risk.
Q: Is the score that I get from the credit bureau is always accurate?
A: No, sometimes credit reports contain inaccuracies. Carefully go over all the data which have been used to inform the score and ensure any inaccuracies in loan amounts and payment history are corrected.
Q: What should I do if my current credit score is not positive?
A: Start paying your bills on time. You can set up reminders and automatic payment arrangements to remove the burden from yourself. If you are a JN member, you can use our online banking platform, JN LIVE, to make payments online at your convenience.
In addition, keep your credit card balances low, and get current with outstanding bills. If you are unable to pay your bills, contact your creditors and seek help from reputable advisors.
Q: Do I have to wait until I am ready to take out a loan before I can request my credit score?
A: No, you can request your credit score at any time. It is very useful to have one prepared from time to time. In this way, you can take any remedial measures necessary in advance of applying for loans.