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Mind your credit score

Things to keep in mind to keep your credit score high

Greha Mataliya

26 May 2008

The irony of the situation here is that every borrower seeks a loan with lowest interest rate whereas every lender with highest interest rate. Risk perception is different in case of different borrowers and ideally is determined from their credit history. Till now we noticed that banks had only their own experiences with customers to fall back on for their assessment. But this is changing now with the entry of agencies that assess the creditworthiness of people.

Need for credit score?

Credit score provides a speedy and objective way to assess risk. This way, financial institutions, lenders and banks can analyze a loan or a credit card application in a speedy manner without having to make complex calculations each time. Instead they have scales that ponder the applicant's standing with several predefined loan or card models and they define the product's variables by matching the rank to the models. Hence, they can easily state in a matter of minutes how much you can borrow, for how long and at which rate, etc.

Credit Score: What is it?

Credit Score comprises of factors like payment history (including any late payments or missed payments that will affect your score negatively), credit card balances (that will be taken into account when the loan amount is determined), bank accounts (including savings and checking accounts) and any other form of credit including all outstanding personal loans, mortgage loans, store cards, etc.

Credit score is simply a number, it is not standardized and each lender, financial institution, risk analyst, etc. can have its own. This number reflects a level of risk that defines whether it is advisable or not to lend money to someone and thus, how much interest should one charge in order to compensate for that risk. The number is created based on inputs from the credit report. Entries from past will be pondered and assigned a value, the summing or deductions of those points will define the credit score.

Even though there is no standardized model of scoring, usually there are many similarities between the models of lenders that deal with the same type of loans, a mortgage lender and a car lender will probably use different scoring models because the risks associated with these two transactions are significantly different.

How do credit scores vary?

Your credit score will fluctuate according to the inputs on your debt history that are reflected in the report. Each timely payment will be recorded as a positive input, while late payments or missed payments will impact negatively on the records thus reducing the score count. Though each lender will calculate the grade in different ways the source of information that they will use is the same and thus, one should manage to keep credit report clean, then grade will surely remain in a good stance regardless of the lender.

Some banks give 100 per cent finance on car loans. The truth is that this interest rate is only available to people with perfect credit score. Most people with average to low credit score will have to pay higher interest rates.

Which agency is doing this job of maintaining your credit score?

Now lending banks can source your credit score from Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited (CIBIL), to supplement the information you furnish in your loan application.

Say if you default on a loan from one bank, it will bring down the credit score, which any other bank that you go to will also be privy to. It will determine not only whether you can get a loan, but also the rate of interest you pay on it. So it is important to learn how to keep the credit score high.

Nevertheless, always watch credit score closely and avoid damaging credit history with late or missing payments, too many outstanding loans and too many loan requests. Credit score is the indication of financial health and even when sometimes it can't get a better credit score, if it drops too much the application could be declined.