When applying for loans, your credit score or rating is an important factor that determines how much you can get and the terms you get the loans at. It is a number that tells banks and other lenders whether you’re a good candidate to give a loan to, and affects the terms of the loans you can access. A bad credit score usually means that the borrower can either not access loans at all or can only access small loans at a high premium.
Unfortunately, most Nigerians—even those who borrow regularly—don’t know what their credit score is. If you’re looking to borrow soon or are genuinely curious about your credit score, you have come to the right place. In this article, we will be answering the question “how to check my credit score” and every other thing you need to know about credit in Nigeria
But first, let’s start with credit scoring…
Your credit score or rating is sort of a score of your financial history. It is usually a three-digit number that reflects how trustworthy the borrower is when it comes to handling money and repaying debts. Credit scores are influenced by a number of different factors including your credit history, length of previous loans, types of credit, late payments, defaults, etc.
Usually, credit scores range from 300 – 850 depending on the scorer, and usually, the higher the score, the better. A high score means that the borrower can be trusted to repay any loans they take on time. A low score means the borrower is considered a high default risk i.e. they may not pay their loans on time or even at all.
Credit scores are typically calculated by Credit Bureaus who share them with financial institutions. But what are credit bureaus and how do they work?
A credit bureau is an agency that collects and relates credit-related information about individuals and businesses. They collect financial data from various financial institutions including banks, lenders, creditors, public records, and sometimes from utility companies. The data collected includes information like your payment history, outstanding balances, credit limits, name, address, and national identification number.
After gathering the information, credit bureaus use complex algorithms to calculate individual credit reports that are primarily defined by a three-digit number — your credit score. There are different scoring models, so your score may vary from one credit bureau to another. That said, in most cases, even when the scores are different, your credit score still falls within the same band across all bureaus i.e. if your credit score is great with one bureau, it will be the same with the others.
Credit bureaus are the most trustworthy place to check your credit score in Nigeria. There are three major licensed credit bureaus in Nigeria, and they form the Credit Bureau Association of Nigeria.
Founded in 2003, CreditRegistry claims to be the largest credit bureau in Nigeria. It is used by a lot of major banks and allows anyone to generate a personal credit report.
Generating a credit report from CreditRegistry is easy. All you have to do is fill out the form on this page. Once filled, you will be sent a verification code to create your account. After your account is verified, you can log in and generate a credit report.
One great thing about CreditRegistry’s credit report is that it is free. Once you are logged into your account, you should be able to see your credit score alongside a brief summary of your credit-related activities. You can also choose to pay N250 for a premium report.
Before checking your credit score on CreditRegistry, you first need to create an account. To create an account, you will need to provide your first name, last name, Email, BVN, and your BVN-linked phone number.
Once the account is created, you will also be required to supply additional information like your address and verified government ID before you can generate your credit score.
To generate your credit report, click on Products, and then CRC Score (Individual). You will be required to pay N400 to generate a credit report.
The CRC Credit Bureau uses the FICO scoring model too, so scores should be interpreted using the rating system above.
Originally incorporated as XDS Solutions Limited, First Central Credit Bureau is the final member of the Credit Bureau Association of Nigeria.
Similar to CreditRegistry, First Central Credit offers free credit score checking for individuals. All you have to do is go to the website and click on the Check Free Credit Score. You will also need to provide your first name, last name, Email, BVN, and your BVN-linked phone number before checking your credit score.
All three credit bureaus in Nigeria use the FICO scoring model, which means that scores all range between 300 – 850. Using the FICO scoring model, here’s what your credit score says about your borrowing habits:
Remember, your credit score is more than just a number; it’s a reflection of your financial responsibility. A good credit score can help you secure loans, credit cards, and even rental agreements with favourable terms. It’s your passport to financial freedom, and maintaining it should be a top priority.
But don’t stop at just checking your credit score once and forgetting about it. Monitoring your credit regularly is a wise practice. This way, you can stay on top of any changes, spot errors, and take action to improve your score if needed.