Ultimate Guide To Credit Scores
Credit History? Credit Report? Credit Score? What does it all mean?
A credit history is a record of the credit accounts you hold along with details about those accounts including: the type of account, your responsibility on the account (e.g. whether you were a joint borrower), the credit limit or amount of the loan, the current balance, minimum payments made, whether you’ve made any late payments, and the current account status.
A credit report is like a report card on how you manage your overall finances. It’s normally issued by a credit reporting agency or credit bureau and will include your credit history, outstanding debt, bankruptcy status, and other non-banking or legal related information. The information can be sourced from various organizations or public sources. Do take note that credit reports are neutral, meaning they include both the good and the bad, and is meant for the evaluator to make a conclusion of creditworthiness.
A credit score is a three-digit number, typically between 300 and 850, that represents your creditworthiness and relates to how likely you are to repay debt. This helps banks and lenders evaluate your application for credit or loans. Credit reporting agencies calculate these scores based on their own proprietary models. Your score will never factor in personal information like your race, gender, religion, marital status, savings or deposits information, salary details or criminal records.
Why is a Credit Score important?
A credit score plays an important role when you want to apply for a financial product from a bank, including a personal loan, mortgage, car loan, or credit card. Banks, financial institutions, and even businesses use your credit score to evaluate the credibility of your financial health. It helps them understand the risks they might face if they decide to lend money to you. The higher your score, the better it is and the higher the chance of getting your applications approved. Essentially, it is an indicator of your financial health.
On top of that, you can leverage the banks or firms for a better deal such as lower interest rates or flexible payment periods if you have a better credit score. Not forgetting you will have more options to choose from as most banks will prefer to deal with you.
See also: Is A Person’s Credit Score Sexy?
How are Credit Scores calculated?
Different credit agencies have their different formulas to evaluate every individual’s credit score. You should not assume that your credit score will be the same across these credit agencies. Credit scores vary for two main reasons, the data on which the score is based, and the method of calculating the score. In general, here are the factors considered in credit scoring calculations.
- The number of credit facilities and the amount owed to the banks
- Whether you pay your loans on time or have missed payments in the past
- Your credit history length
- Types of secured and unsecured credit you hold – secured (home, car loans) vs unsecured credit (credit cards, personal loans)
- Have you been approved for new credit facilities recently
CCRIS does not provide a credit score. It only provides information of an individual’s profile such as their name, address, business registration, credit application details such as the amount of loan applied for, and credit account details such as the outstanding amount.
A CTOS score is calculated based on credit information from both CCRIS and CTOS’s database. The image below explains the 5 factors that make up a CTOS Score:
- Payment History (45%) – Whether you pay your loans on time or have missed payments in the past.
- Amount Owed (20%) – The number of credit facilities and the amount owed to the banks.
- Credit History Length (7%) – How long have you held a credit facility (credit card, or a loan).
- Credit Mix (14%) – Types of loan and credit cards you hold – secured (home, car loans) vs unsecured credit (credit cards, personal loans).
- New Credit (14%) – Have you been approved for new credit facilities recently?
RAMCI’s i-Score is determined by debt repayment pattern, overdue accounts, frequencies of credit application and credit outstanding.
Credit Bureau Malaysia
Credit Bureau’s credit score (MYSCoRE) is assessed based on your debt repayment pattern, outstanding loan amount, credit application pattern, and also tells probability of defaulting a debt. Check out more details here!
Credit Reporting Agencies in Malaysia
There are three main Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs), governed under the Credit Reporting Agencies Act 2010 and registered to the Registrar Office of Credit Reporting Agencies. These CRAs are:
- Credit Bureau by Bank Negara Malaysia; that manages the Central Credit Reference Information System (CCRIS)
- CTOS Data Systems; that issues MyCTOS Score Report
- RAM Credit Information (RAMCI); that issues the RAMCI Personal Credit Report
CTOS is a private company which provides credit reporting and is also widely used by financial institutions to determine an applicant’s creditworthiness aside from using CCRIS. Usually, financial institutions use more than one credit report to determine an applicant’s credit health and CTOS is also known to be widely used in Malaysia.
CTOS collects credit-related information from various public sources such as:
- National Registration Department
- Malaysia Insolvency Department
- Companies Commission Malaysia (CCM)
- Publications of legal proceedings and notices in newspapers and government gazettes.
The type of credit-related information included in the CTOS credit report includes bankruptcy, legal action, and even case status. It also details an individual’s business exposure, business ownership, and directorships if any.
Similar to CCRIS, CTOS does not provide comments or opinions and does not blacklist any individuals. Aside from that, you can also obtain your own credit report from CTOS through its online portal – MyCTOS.
First, you will need to register to obtain your CTOS User ID, and once your ID has been activated you can access your credit report from MyCTOS anytime over the internet and even through the CTOS mobile app.
Types of CTOS reports
There are two types of reports provided by CTOS:
- MyCTOS Basic report – A brief credit report that only includes legal cases, personal information, business information, bankruptcy declaration (if any), and banking payment history (derived from Bank Negara).
- MyCTOS Score report – A comprehensive report that includes litigation and bankruptcy cases, directorship in registered companies, banking payment history from CCRIS and MyCTOS Score.
How do you Get Your CTOS report?
You can sign up here to get access to two free MyCTOS Basic reports per year. To get the MyCTOS Score Report, however, you will have to pay RM25.
Central Credit Reference Information (CCRIS)
CCRIS is managed by the Credit Bureau of Bank Negara Malaysia and it collects credit information from financial service providers in Malaysia like banks, insurance brokers and even private companies providing utility services such as the Malaysian telecommunication companies. Information that will be on the credit report from CCRIS are outstanding loans, summons, or whether the person has been declared bankrupt.
All of the information and data is then compiled into a credit report which financial institutions like banks will have access to. The data that is on the credit report will be broken down into a period of 12 months. It will contain credit-related information of an individual such as:
- Outstanding credit
- Special attention accounts, which are credit facilities under close supervision of financial institutions
- Applications for credit in the previous 12 months that have been approved or are pending
It should also be noted that CCRIS also stores positive information like your credit approvals and positive repayment history. One misconception that most people have is also that CCRIS will blacklist you if you have a bad repayment pattern. However, CCRIS does not provide an opinion and does not blacklist individuals, it only provides factual data which will then be used by financial institutions.
Type of CCRIS reports
You will find only one type of credit report from CCRIS and it does not involve a score. This is because the credit history and data collected is raw information that is not assessed and rated by Bank Negara (CCRIS).
How do you get your CCRIS report?
You can get a copy of your CCRIS credit report from Bank Negara, but do take note that you can only get access to your own credit report so you cannot ask someone else to obtain it for you. You will need to bring along your MyKad and other supporting documents to verify your identity. The credit report will then be issued to you at Bank Negara Malaysia’s head office.
RAM Credit Information Sdn Bhd (RAMCI)
RAMCI backed by RAM Holdings Berhad, operates a credit-information bureau in Malaysia. RAMCI opened its new market division to serve the individual consumers in 2015 with the introduction of three credit reports, using its own credit score, i-Score.
What is i-Score?
i-Score is a three-digit number that predicts how likely you are to pay back a loan or other credit obligations on time. The higher the score, the lower the risk you are to the lenders or banks.
i-Score does not determine whether your application will be approved or the interest rate banks will offer. However, it offers some guidance to the banks before approving a credit application.
3 Types of Individual Credit Reports from RAMCI
There are three types of credit reports by RAMCI:
- Personal Credit Report Basic (PCRB) – This basic report only provides RAMCI credit information (derived from RAMCI’s partners) and ANGKASA SPGA information (for public servants only). This report costs RM10 per set.
- Personal Credit Report Plus (PCRP) – This report provides RAMCI credit information, banking credit information, ANGKASA SPGA information and i-Score rated by RAMCI. This report costs RM15 for a set.
- JagaMyID Subscription – With this subscription, you will receive a timely alert when someone applying credit card or loan facilities using your name or if they detect any changes in your credit profile. A monthly notification email will also be sent to you to update you on your credit profile changes and credit score.
- RM50.00 (1 year subscription + 2 free PCRP)
- RM90.00 (2 year subscription + 4 free PCRP)
- RM130.00 (3 year subscription + 6 free PCRP)
How do you get your RAMCI report?
You can visit this site and sign up for your RAMCI Personal Credit Report today.
Credit Bureau Malaysia
Credit Bureau began operations by helping many SMEs get access to better financing since 2008. When the Credit Reporting Act 2010 was introduced, Credit Bureau Malaysia was introduced and expanded its market to include helping individuals.
Credit Bureau Malaysia collects and compiles credit information from various sources. Then they process this data and disseminate it to financial institutions and other credit grantors.
Credit Bureau Malaysia is jointly owned by Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia, Dun & Bradstreet Malaysia, and the Association of Banks Malaysia.
You can get an Individual Credit Report (ICR) from Credit Bureau Malaysia to get an overview of your personal information, related business and companies information, MySCoRE assessment, dishonoured cheque summary, past inquiries, credit information, non-bank credit information.
Frequently Asked Questions [Click to expand or collapse]
CCRIS does not provide your credit score in its credit report. However, it is stated that if you have settled any debt, your regularized account will be shown in the current month of your settlement. Nevertheless, the information on a number of installments in arrears for the last 12 months will be displayed in the credit report.
The record will be updated by the participating financial institution by the next reporting date, no later than 10th of every month.
It is your right and responsibility to update the information in your CTOS Self-Check Report. Generally, CTOS collects information from the banks, financial institutions, Bank Negara, firms and any sources available on our credit and legal conditions continuously. Hence, it is important for you to check your credit report yourself and see if there are any errors or mistakes in your personal and credit information.
It is advised to do so every six months to make sure your profile is up-to-date and provides the latest information to the banks in order to improve your chances of financial product’s application approval.
Similar to CTOS, RAMCI continuously updates every individual’s credit report based on their source feeds. You can request for an update if you find any outdated or wrong information on your credit report.
1. Check your credit score regularly
Monitoring your credit score report regularly can help you ensure you are on track to maintain or improve your credit score. If you don’t check it regularly, you may put yourself at risk of fraud. For example, John Doe may be using your personal information to apply for a credit card without you knowing it.
2. Manage credit cards and loans properly
Do not max out your credit card limit as this tells the credit agencies that you are always at the edge of your finances. Also, you should control your urge to apply for a loan if you can resort to other alternatives such as saving or borrowing from family.
See also: How to Use Credit Cards Responsibly
3. Pay on time
This is one of the most important habits to showcase your capability as a good paymaster to the credit agencies and banks. By paying your monthly debt repayment, your score will be higher due to your consistency and discipline.
4. Do not apply for too many credit cards or personal loans at once
This may show banks that you are desperate for a sum of money which may put you at higher risk with banks. It could be a sign that you will not be able to repay your credit card or loan amount.
5. Avoid legal cases and bankruptcy
Try your utter best to stay out of trouble and make every effort to improve your financial condition even if it is in the worst shape ever. Bankruptcy will cost you a good amount of time for recovery and you will need at least two years to regain a healthy credit score.
Easy but effective steps to improve your credit score:
1. Prioritise debts with the highest interest
You should always try to clear your debts with the highest interest charges in order to minimise your cost. Credit card debt is usually the credit with the highest interest charges (18% per annum), followed by a personal loan. Ultimately, you should clear off as many debts as you can and make sure your debt service ratio is below 50%.
Check this out: How Do I Calculate My Debt Service Ratio?
2. Don’t let banks or companies chase you
Paying on time is a virtue. And it helps to keep your credit score in a good health state. By missing payment deadlines or defaulting on your debt, this will affect your credit score badly over a long period.
3. Double check your financial relationships
If you are having a hard time clearing your credit card debt, you may want to double check your shared expenses such as supplementary credit cards or utility bills with your partner. You should measure your financial capability accurately before taking on any additional responsibilities or commitments, especially if it’s not yours to carry.
4. Build a healthy credit history
For those who do not currently have a credit card or any form of loan, you will not have a credit history. This isn’t always a good thing. You should consider applying for a no annual fee credit card in order to build up your credit history. This helps the banks understand your risk profile which will help you get the loan you need in the future.
See also: Personal Loan Guide: Money Management
What To Do If You Don’t Have a Credit Score
If you do not have a credit card, or if you currently do not have any loans under your name, it means you won’t have a credit score, which may cause you problems in the future. For example, you decide you want to settle down and purchase a house. If you have no credit score, banks do not have access to your financial history to see how good (or bad) you are with your payments.
Here are 3 things you need to do to start building your credit score:
1. Get A Zero Annual Fee Credit Card
One of the easiest ways to get started on creating your credit score is by getting a credit card. Why? Because with a credit card, you will be creating a credit history when you begin using it. You may be put off using credit cards because of the horror news of people being dragged down by their credit card debts.However, you can avoid this by applying for a no annual fee credit card to minimise your cost and only use them for petrol expenses or emergency uses. Click here and compare the best credit cards with no annual fee!
2. Check Your Financial Commitments and Loans
Before applying for your first credit card or loan, you need to check all of your current commitments such as utility bills or debt (friends and family), so that you are well aware of your full financial conditions. By doing this, you can manage your finances better.
3. Check and Track Your Credit Score regularly
Once you have your first credit card or loan, you should apply to check your credit score and report within the first six months to make sure all of your personal information is correct. Then, it is strongly advised to keep track of your credit report every six months to make sure things are aligned such as credit information and personal information.
What Is Not Included in Your Credit Score But Will Be Considered By Banks When You Apply For A Financial Product?
There are many other factors that are taken into account when the bank decides to reject or approve your application. It is not solely dependent on your credit score report.
Here is a list of information that banks will also consider before approving an application:
- Profession and Industry – Risky jobs may have lower chances of approval or higher interest charges.
- Income level & employment history – Your chances of approval for a credit card is higher if your income level is stable and you do not job-hop in a short period.
- Employer – Multinational corporations or government-employed applicants have a higher chance of
- Bankruptcy or legal cases from the past – Though your credit report may be ‘clean’ for the past three or five-year, banks still factor in your past history in bankruptcy declaration or legal cases before approving your application for a loan or credit card.
- Asset – Banks may approve your application for credits if your net asset value is high.
- Down payment and loan period for loan application – Banks will consider your credit application to be less risky if your down payment is higher (lower amount of loan) and length of loan repayment is shorter.
- Location of residences – This unwritten rule applies to certain banks, subjective to their requirements and strategy, for example, if they do not have a branch or resource in a certain state, they are less likely to approve an application from someone in that state.
By now, we hope you have a better picture of how a credit score works and why it is important to maintain in a healthy state.