By Bank Windhoek’s Executive Officer of Credit, Eddie King.
Imagine John, a 35-year-old professional. In his 20s, he juggled multiple credit cards, often reaching their limits and only managing minimum payments. By 30, he faced mounting interest, a declining credit score, and challenges securing a car loan. However, after seeking financial counselling, consolidating his debts and adopting disciplined repayment habits, John’s credit score improved dramatically, enabling him to secure a mortgage for his dream home. John’s journey underscores the profound impact of understanding and managing one’s credit score.
What is a credit score?
A credit score is a numerical representation of your creditworthiness derived from your credit history. Various factors influence it, including payment history, total debt, types of accounts, and more. In Namibia, credit bureaus like Experian and TransUnion calculate these scores using data from credit grantors.
In Namibia, consumers can obtain a free copy of their credit report once every 12 months. This report provides a comprehensive view of your credit history, including your score. If you spot any inaccuracies, it is essential to challenge them.
Why does your score matter?
A robust credit score unlocks numerous financial opportunities:
Favourable loan terms: Lenders offer better rates to those with higher scores.
Increased borrowing power: A good score boosts the likelihood of loan approval and the amount you can borrow.
Negotiating power: A strong score allows you to negotiate better terms with lenders.
Factors shaping your score:
Repayment history: Your consistency in paying accounts is paramount.
Total debt: High debt, especially relative to income, can be a red flag.
Credit mix and account numbers: A diverse credit portfolio is beneficial, but too many accounts can be concerning.
Credit utilisation: Using a significant portion of your available credit suggests potential financial strain.
Account age: Older, well-managed accounts can bolster your score.
Legal markers: Court orders, judgments, and similar marks can severely harm your score.
Credit enquiries: Multiple checks in a short period can suggest financial instability.
Boosting your credit score: practical tips
Timely payments: Consistently pay on or before due dates.
Manage credit usage: Aim to use less than 30% of your available credit.
Maintain older accounts: They showcase a longer history of credit management.
Diversify credit sensibly: Only apply for credit you genuinely need and can manage.
Resolve negative markers: Address any adverse marks, and if under debt review, seek financial counselling.
Your credit score is a dynamic, influential tool in your financial toolkit. You can confidently navigate the financial world by understanding its components and adopting sound financial habits, just like John.
Remember that Namibian consumers are entitled to one free credit report annually. You can obtain yours by visiting either credit bureau’s website to start the process.