Your Credit Report Check-Up

It’s time to get to the nitty-gritty of credit. You may have read the Credit Cards Explained page, but we've only scratched the surface. We will be going through several topics that cover your credit report, starting with the basic components of credit, ways to build your credit score and finally, the benefits you can receive.

Your overall credit report is important for:

  • How creditors decide to loan you money
  • How landlords accept you as tenants
  • How insurance rates are assessed

Get your report at Equifax (opens new window) or Transunion (opens new window). Making sure your credit report is accurate and up to date is important. Report any mistakes or inaccuracies to either of the bureaus above.

The Basics

Credit Report: Is an overview of your history with obtaining and using credit. Personal information can include a list of previous/current addresses and employers. Financial information in the report can include:

  • Bank accounts, including non-sufficient fund (NSF) payments and bounced cheques
  • Credit cards, lines of credit and loans
  • Bankruptcy and debts that went to collections
  • A list of people, companies, lenders, authorized organizations (i.e. a landlord you have given consent to) who have made inquiries about your credit, including yourself.

When you make a credit application for a loan, rental, credit card etc., the information gets shared with the credit reporting agencies - commonly referred to as Credit Bureaus (Equifax and Transunion). The information that is collected by the Bureaus is compiled into your credit report and your credit score is generated.

Information recorded on your credit report remains there for approximately six years.

Credit Rating: Each individual creditor that you have (student loans, credit card companies etc.) generates their own rating for you. Ideally you want to be rated a 1 on a scale of 0-9 for each of these creditors. A rating of 1 means that you pay the minimum monthly payment on time every month. The individual credit ratings are a component of your overall credit score.

Credit Score: This essentially assesses your risk; the higher the score, the lower the risk for the lender. A higher score means easier access to credit for you, lower interest rates and in some cases, with a very high score, an ability to negotiate exceptional terms and incentives. You want to have a score of at least 650 or more on a scale from 300-900.

Did You Know? Paying for a cellphone or internet provider helps improve your credit rating and they are considered creditors just like a credit card! What does this mean? Students who pay these bills on time are building up their credit scores early! Check out the future benefits that make understanding credit worthwhile!

Building Your Score

You need to be rated a “1” among creditors to have a very high credit score. There isn't much you need to do other than make the minimum payments before the due date every month. You only need to use your credit card once every six months to keep it active. As long as you pay off the minimum every month, the companies will report your good habits.

However, you may be in a situation where your score has been damaged severely, or you have been denied a major credit card from your banking institution. If that’s the case, there are definitely some alternatives for you.

  1. Secured Credit Card: You will need to deposit money (between $500 and $1000) to serve as collateral. After you make regular payments on your purchases, the company will refund you the initial deposit and will revert you back to an unsecured credit card (such as a major credit card from your bank without a deposit requirement).
  2. Retail Credit Card: If you've been turned down by Visa or MasterCard, consider applying for a retail credit card. Major retailers tend to be a bit more lenient but have higher interest rates (29.9% being very common). As long as you pay off your balance in full, it will not be an issue. After using a retail card responsibly for a period of time (a year or more), reapply for a bank credit card with a lower interest rate.
  3. Piggyback: A friend or relative can place you on their card as a secondary user. This method requires both parties to trust each other. You can either hurt or help each other depending on your habits, because the credit of one party directly affects the other. As a secondary user, you don’t need to use your card to benefit from the primary user’s good credit. Once you use this credit card responsibly, or reap the benefits of the primary user's repayment habits, reapply for a bank credit card and use it responsibly.

The Benefits

How can having a healthy credit report help you?

  • It can lower interest rates on a loan.
  • It is often required when renting an apartment or home.
  • It allows you to obtain better insurance rates (i.e. mortgage or car) which could potentially save you thousands of dollars!
  • It can be used as a tool to renegotiate fees (i.e. bank account fees, interest rates, overdraft costs, length of grace periods).
  • You may be applicable for rewards such as bonuses, cash back and travel points.
  • It can be helpful when trying to get approval for higher limits on loans or credit.

Some of these may not help you right now but the responsible habits you’re practicing now will pay dividends in the not so distant future.

How to Get My Credit Report

You can order your credit report from the credit reporting agencies in Canada: Equifax and TransUnion.

It is recommended that you obtain a copy of your credit report from both Equifax and TransUnion, as they may have different information about you in their files. This is also a great way to detect errors and correct them.

You are able to check your credit report as many times as you like- it does not affect your score. Consider requesting your report at least once a year so you know where you stand.

Methods of Obtaining My Credit Report

You can obtain your credit report for FREE by ordering via mail, fax, by phone or in person. You can receive it by mail or in person. To access your report online, you will be asked to pay a fee.

Your credit score is NOT included in the free credit report. There is an additional fee to get your credit score within your credit report. We will outline the different ways of obtaining a credit report below.

By Mail or Fax


You must download the credit file disclosure (opens PDF, 100kb) form on Equifax’s website to obtain a credit report .

Provide two copies of acceptable identification outlined in the “credit file disclosure” link above.

You have the option of providing credit card information on the “credit file disclosure” form to purchase your credit score.


Visit the Transunion consumer disclosure (opens new window) page on TransUnion’s website to obtain a credit report.

You need to provide two copies of acceptable identification (opens new window).

By Telephone

For both credit bureaus, you will be asked a series of questions to confirm your identity. You will need to provide your Social Insurance Number (SIN) and/or a credit card number.

You have the option of paying an additional fee for your credit score, which is not included in the free credit report.


Call the agency at 1-800-465-7166 and follow the automated prompts.


Call the agency at 1-800-663-9980 and follow the automated prompts.


There is a fee for obtaining your credit report and credit score online. You will need credit card information to obtain your report and/or score.


Please visit Equifax's (opens new windows) website. At the bottom left hand side of the page, click“Get Started” to begin filling out your information to obtain a Credit Report/Score.


Please visit Transunion's (opens new window) website. Select “Click Here” (orange button) to obtain your Credit Score/Report. There is a monthly subscription cost for this service that you can cancel at any time. Please read the details on the website prior to paying online.

In Person

You have the option of paying an additional fee for your credit score, which is not included in the free credit report.


Head office is in Montreal, Quebec. This option is not plausible to most students; perhaps consider a different method outlined on this page.


Consumer Relations
3115 Harvester Road, Suite 201
Burlington, ON L7N 3N8
Open Monday to Friday
9:00 am to 4:30 pm

Provide two copies of acceptable identification (opens new window).

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know when to report mistakes on my credit report?

If you do not recognize information on your credit report (an account you have never opened), or you believe an item may be inaccurate (i.e. your report states you paid 2 months late, when you believe you paid on time), you have the right to request an investigation. It is helpful to obtain credit reports from both Equifax and TransUnion to compare and see if differences are substantial; this may indicate a mistake in reporting.

How do I report mistakes on my credit report?

Additional documents will need to be photocopied and sent with the form. They are outlined in the links below.


You will complete and submit a “Consumer Credit Report Update Form” by mail or fax with the information you wish to be investigated. Visit Equifax's Online Dispute (opens new window) page and please follow these steps (opens new window).


You will be able to file a dispute over the phone or through mail. Visit Transunion's Credit Report Disputes (opens new window) page and click on your preferred method at the bottom of the page. To file through mail, you will be required to fill out the “Investigation Request Form”.

What happens after I report a mistake on my credit report?

Before the credit bureaus (Equifax and TransUnion) can make any changes, they first need to check your claim with the source of the information that you are challenging. If the dispute is in regards to your personal information, (i.e. name) please provide supporting identification documentation, such as a change of name certificate, marriage certificate etc.

If the source agrees that the information was reported incorrectly, your credit file will be updated with the credit bureau. You will be contacted about the change.

If the source disagrees that the information was reported incorrectly and the case is not resolved, you are able to add a consumer statement to the report, documenting the situation.

Click the links below for more information on credit dispute protocol at each of the credit bureaus.

Equifax's Online Dispute page (opens new window) (click on "Good to know" at the bottom of the page)

TransUnion's Credit Report Dispute page (opens new window)

NOTE: In order to fix a credit dispute with both credit bureaus, each one will need to be contacted separately as they do not share information.