This post was originally written in 2016, but with new free products (see Borrowell below), and a friend asking about how to obtain credit scores, I thought there was value in updating this post.

Credit cards and mortgages are a hot topic in the personal finance world.  Since both are essentially loans, credit issuers and lenders need some kind of assurance that you can repay the loan.  In verifying your ability to repay the loan, lenders generally look at a few criteria: your current income; your current debt; and, your history of repaying debt.

While your current income and debt are easy to quantify, how do lenders quantify your credit history?  You may already know this, but when you sign up for a credit card or a loan of any type, this activity is recorded in a database and aggregated into a credit report.  A credit report will track the lender name, the balance on the account, the status, and history of the account (if you’ve paid on time, or missed payments etc).  The credit information is put together and a credit score is assigned through an algorithm created by Equifax and/or Transunion – the two main credit reporting agencies in Canada.

To give you an idea, here is the range that your credit score can fall:

  • 0-560: Poor
  • 560-660: Fair
  • 660-725: Good
  • 725-760: Very Good
  • 760 – 900: Excellent

The higher your credit score, the more favorably a lender will view your application.  The issue is that while obtaining your credit report is free (paper only by calling Equifax @ 1-800-465-7166 ), obtaining your credit score has a fee associated with it.  That is, up until now.

Get Free Credit Scores Online

A number of online Canadian companies have started offering free credit scores.  They offer this service as a way to generate more sign-ups to their website and obtaining your personal information (no SIN required).  I’m not a big fan of giving away personal info, but I’m fairly comfortable in this case as a SIN number is not required.

Generally, all you need is your name, birthday, address, and the ability to answer some multiple choice credit report questions.  It’s also important to note that checking your credit score on multiple sites will not impact your credit score.

Here are the four companies (and the credit agency that they use) that I have come across that offer free credit scores for Canadians:

  1. Borrowell – Equifax (quarterly updates) – now offers your credit REPORT for free;
  2. Credit Karma – Transunion (weekly updates – bonus: fairly detailed report with a chart tracking over time);
  3. – Equifax (monthly updates); and,
  4. Mogo – Equifax (monthly updates).

I like Credit Karma in that: first, you get a access to Transunion; second, they give you weekly updates (rather than monthly or quarterly); and third, the level of detail that they give you.  I think overall, Borrowell offers the most value as it provides your credit score PLUS your credit report for FREE.

Why am I Interested in my Score?

So being mortgage free and no expected loans coming up, why am I all of the sudden interested in my credit score? I recently realized that most of our credit cards over the past ten years have been under my name with my wife as a secondary cardholder (no credit check).  Normally, this would be fine, but I wanted to make sure that my wife had creditworthiness to apply for loans/credit if need be (for example if I were to pass away suddenly).

With that, I created accounts with the websites above to test them out.  It turns out that she has a credit score that would fall into the “Excellent” range (in fact, slightly better than my score).  With the confidence of a strong credit score behind us, we decided to sign up for a credit card under her name.  The PC World Elite MasterCard promo was good timing as we shop at Loblaws, and the $100 Cineplex gift card bonus was enticing (she enjoys the movie theatre – see my SCENE points article) – so we signed up and have already received the card ($100 offer still valid today).

Improve your Credit Score

So what if your credit score isn’t the best?  There are a number of strategies that you can use such as (taken from my “how to improve your credit score article“):

Through a few quick and easy steps, you can keep your credit score at the top levels:

  • Always pay your bills on time with at least the min required payment.
  • Keep your amount borrowed less than 50% of your total credit available.
  • Avoid applying for multiple credit products within a short span of time.
  • If cancelling credit cards, avoid cancelling the ones with the longer track records.
  • If retaining a high credit score is top priority, then avoid loan consolidation. The reason being is that your total credit available will decrease while keeping the total borrowed the same.

Final Thoughts

The best thing about these free credit score websites is that you can track your credit score over time.  So if you apply for a new credit card, you can see how it impacts your score, and how it recovers over time.  My wife’s Transunion score dropped 10 points after applying for the PC World Elite card (but has since recovered).  Take note though that you are giving away your information in exchange for the free credit scores, so be prepared to get emails from them promoting their credit products.

Have you signed up with these sites to get your credit score?  Are there any other sites available that do the same thing?


  1. Sid on December 5, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    I tried Borrowell and Ratehub and couldn’t be verified with the questions they asked about my loans/credit cards/banks. They were asking about loans with banks I’ve never dealt with, are those supposed to be trick questions or do they actually think I have those loans?

    I was able to get verified with Credit Karma and all my info looks correct.

    So do I need to call Equifax to make sure they have the correct info? Or if Transunion has the correct info can I assume Equifax does as well?

  2. FrugalTrader on December 5, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    I found that some of the credit questions had the choice “none of the above” which was the correct answer. Did you have that option?

    • Sid on December 5, 2016 at 4:21 pm

      Yes, but that was only an option on some of the questions that had all the wrong info for each option.

  3. JC on December 5, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    How accurate are these? In April I checked my credit score with an Equifax 30-day free trial and it was 830. Now RateHub (who use Equifax) says it’s 754. I’ve only opened up a Tangerine account in that time, and I always pay back my 2 credit cards in full each month, never missed a payment, etc. I know it’s not such a big deal here as it is in the US, but my credit score should be going up, not down!

  4. JF on December 5, 2016 at 9:18 pm

    Credit Karma and Borrowell do not offer their services to Quebec residents. Did not try the others.

    • Farly on June 23, 2019 at 11:33 am

      Both Credit Karma and Borrowell are now available to Quebec residents

  5. Brad on December 6, 2016 at 12:56 am

    Borrowell also has charting over time.

  6. moneycorgi on December 10, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    good post

    Any idea if student loan debt is kept on your credit score? for some reason in the UK its not counted on it. So my debt shows as blank on mine despite being nowhere near having paid off my student loan.

  7. David Marsden on December 10, 2016 at 11:49 pm

    Any suggestions on best way to structure purchase of rental condo without using cash. Equity in home 500k+ with no debts other than first mortgage. TD flex mtg???

    • Leo T. Ly on December 23, 2016 at 7:42 pm

      @David – When I purchased my investment property, I refinance my mortgage and use the proceed of the refinance to purchase my investment property. The reason that I refinance is because I wanted certainty for 5 years as I am using it to purchase an investment property. Secondly, when the rate is at 2.59%, I’ll lock it in anytime. Now the portion of my refinanced mortgage is tax deductible and the mortgage on my rental is also tax deductible. I don’t use a HELOC as the interest rate can go up when prime rates goes up. The rate on the HELOC is also more expensive (3.2%) than the refinance rate. Hope that helps.

      Happy holidays.

      – Leo

  8. Jeff on December 11, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    Just thinking of the latest hacking scandals, how secure are these services? I am also a bit hesitant when it comes to using third party to check on my credit score since they will have all of my information.

  9. Leo T. Ly on December 23, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    Thanks for sharing a great post FT. I signed up with and Credit Karma to get my credit scores. I wanted to check both TransUnion and Equifax to see if there is any difference between the two scores. I like Credit Karma better as I get a report and a score, but on provide a score. My TransUnion score is 8 points higher than my Equifax score. Does anyone notices a difference between these two scores?

  10. Fernando Margueirat on December 27, 2016 at 12:01 am

    Thanks! This is gold. I knew and used Borrowell but Credit Karma seems to be a great option too.

  11. Hasan on November 6, 2017 at 6:27 pm

    Just FYI, now asks for your SIN after you sign up and before it lets you see your score. I didn’t proceed.

    • Hasan on November 6, 2017 at 6:41 pm

      Further update — now claims to provide monthly (as opposed to quarterly) updates and as the article mentions, it still doesn’t ask for SIN.

  12. Tom on February 5, 2018 at 2:08 pm

    RBC clients can obtain their free, monthly-adjusted, TransUnion Credit Score anytime via online banking. Very convenient.

    • duggyt on March 27, 2019 at 4:05 pm

      Also available thru my Scotiabank account using TU Creditview. Provides great detail in the Creditview Dashboard.
      Does anyone notice closed accounts lingering from 10+ years ago on your report? I have a number of them and it seems odd.
      Thanks in advance.

    • Tom on March 28, 2019 at 12:23 pm

      Capital One MC (Costco) shows the score upon online sig in.

  13. Dee on February 5, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    You credit score is now available for free when you logon to the CIBC website.

    • Fernando Margueirat on February 5, 2018 at 6:18 pm

      I don’t see my credit score when I login to CIBC. Do you have to go to a specific section on their website?

      • Jack on February 9, 2018 at 12:32 am

        You can only get the free credit report from CIBC if you use their mobile banking app. Something I currently don’t trust, and so will not use…

      • Fernando Margueirat on February 9, 2018 at 1:47 pm

        Thanks for this information Jack.

  14. kyahgirl on February 5, 2018 at 5:18 pm

    This was a great post. Thanks. We recently took our ‘new adult’ daughter to get her first credit card and the info the bank gave us made me curious about out credit score but also cautious because they told us it is negatively impacted by inquiries!
    Credit Karma worked just fine.

  15. matt on February 6, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    Three cards, LoC, mortgage and Rogers phone show up on my report.
    (Also several closed loans and cards from the last 10 yrs. All closed by me after being paid in full.)
    Cards are paid off every month. LoC is paid off. Never missed a mortgage payment.
    One card has 30 day late pay in Aug 2012.
    Rogers shows one late pay last year that’s incorrect and being fixed.

    Credit Score: 705 Seems low?

  16. Helmut on February 14, 2018 at 5:21 pm


    I signed up with Borrowell and Credit Karma and got my scores. 782 (Credit Karma – TransUnion) and 822 (Borrowell – EquiFax). How come there is such a big difference between the two?


    • FT on February 14, 2018 at 7:04 pm

      Credit issuers pick and choose which agency they go with. Thus the difference in scores. Has anyone noticed any patterns as to which companies use Equifax and which use TransUnion?

  17. Fernando Margueirat on February 14, 2018 at 9:53 pm

    Can you confirm RateHub updates monthly? I got mine the first time, two years ago, but it never updated since then.

  18. Ian Stamp on April 1, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    Credit Karma now requires a SIN during sign-up, prior to releasing the score.

    • FT on April 3, 2018 at 9:02 am

      Thanks Ian, I did not know that.

  19. smayer97 on April 10, 2018 at 5:40 am

    Just subscribing to this thread…

  20. Andy on April 26, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    Scotiabank now offers credit report through online banking.

  21. Rachel on July 13, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    Hi there, Rachel from Borrowell here! Thanks for the mention in this article. We now offer free credit scores and reports monthly to our customers :).

  22. smayer97 on March 28, 2019 at 5:13 pm

    RBC also provides COMPLETE details on your credit report. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to print it off or share it with others, e.g. for rental applications, etc.

    I too have noticed MANY old closed accounts that should have been removed. I will have to get them to clean that up, though it is supposed to be automatic… so much for that.

  23. Ying Fu on February 1, 2020 at 5:47 am

    I obtained my credit score from Costco Capital One credit keeper feature today.

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