This is what happens when you want to get a place to live but don’t have the credit score to do it.
Meet Robin Bourbeau, a nuclear operator-in-training at Ontario Power Generation. He’s 23 years old, has no debt, makes $80,000 a year, and has enough savings for a 20% downpayment on a $400,000 house.
Despite all of this, he can’t get a mortgage (and if he can’t get one, you’re basically screwed).
Alright that’s a bit dramatic, you can definitely get a mortgage one day, but only if you can avoid making the same mistakes that Robin did. Namely, you need to have a credit card.
Affording Your Own Home? Priceless
To put this in perspective, this guy with all the savings and all the salary couldn’t get a house simply because he didn’t have a credit card. Or better yet, because he didn’t have a good credit score.
That’s because in the world of lending, having a good credit score (or any credit score at all) is an essential part of securing a loan. It’s proof that you have a history of borrowing money and then paying it back, even if it’s on a small scale.
Consider that a mortgage is effectively the most gargantuan loan you’ll ever get and you can understand why banks might want to know this about you.
Paying Your Bills Isn’t Good Enough
Robin learned the hard way that financial responsibility does not necessarily equate to having a good credit score. He figured that not having any outstanding debt in addition to paying for his insurance, cell phone, and rent on time would be proof enough.
Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.
One of these days, someone in Silicon Valley will invent an algorithm to profile an entire person’s financial trustworthiness. Until then, you’re just going to have to play the game and build up that score.
To be fair, having a bad credit score gives you more to work with than not having a credit score at all, and Robin absolutely had a bad credit score. That’s because at 18, he’d gotten a PC Mastercard, spent $500 on it and then forgot about the card entirely. When he realized what he’d done, he paid off the debt before it got too crazy and closed the card. But the damage was already done.
Don’t Get a Loan Alone
Don’t be like Robin. Get a low-fee credit card and use it a couple times a month. Buy a few meals with it or use it to buy something small like your transit pass, just remember to pay it off every time your statements come in. Similarly, paying off a student or car loan in your name will also help you build up your score.
Even if you’re just looking to rent an apartment and not buy an entire house, having a decent credit score is likely to be a necessary step unless you want to be paying a massive deposit.
Don’t worry, this story has a happy ending and he did eventually get the house once his parents co-signed the mortgage. So learn from Robin’s experience, get your credit in order, and enjoy your future mansion (or apartment, whichever). We know it’ll work out for you.
Your Chance to Win $35,000 for School
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.