Credit Scores – Understand Its Influence

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Credit scores play a crucial role in determining your financial future. Understanding it is the first step towards better financial management. But what are the factors that influence your credit score? How does it impact your ability to obtain loans or credit cards? And, what are the differences in credit scoring models used by various credit bureaus? In this article, we’ll demystify credit scores and provide a clear understanding of these crucial financial indicators.

Understanding Credit Scores

A credit score is a numerical representation of your creditworthiness based on your past and current credit behaviour. In South Africa, credit scores range from 330 to 830, with higher scores indicating lower credit risk. Lenders, landlords, and even employers may use your credit score to assess your reliability.

Factors Influencing Your Credit Score

  1. Payment History: Payment history can be considered the most critical factor in your credit score. It shows whether you’ve been making your credit payments on time.
  2. Level of Indebtedness: This is your current total debt. The closer you are to your credit limit, the more it can negatively impact your score.
  3. Length of Credit History: The longer you’ve been using credit responsibly, the better it is for your credit score.
  4. Type of Credit: Having a mix of different types of credit accounts (like credit cards, store accounts, home loans, etc.) can positively impact your score.
  5. New Credit Applications: Frequent applications for new credit can negatively impact your score as it may indicate financial distress.

Impact of Credit Scores on Loans and Credit Cards

Your credit score significantly affects your ability to obtain loans or credit cards. When you apply for credit, creditors use it to determine whether to extend credit to you and at what interest rate. A high credit score can make you eligible for more favourable terms, like lower interest rates, while a low score can lead to loan rejections or higher interest rates.

Different Credit Scoring Models

Various credit bureaus may use slightly different scoring models, resulting in minor variations in your credit score across bureaus. The most commonly used models in South Africa include the TransUnion Credit Score and the Experian Credit Score. These models consider similar factors, but the weightage assigned to each might differ, resulting in slightly different scores.


Understanding your credit score is pivotal in managing your financial health. You can navigate the financial landscape with more confidence and clarity by keeping track of the factors that influence your score and how different bureaus calculate it.

Remember, regular check-ups of your credit score are crucial. They provide insight into your current financial standing and help detect any discrepancies or fraudulent activities on your accounts. It’s your financial health at stake, after all!

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*Representative example: Estimated repayments of a loan of R30 000 over 36 months at a maximum interest rate, including fees of 27.5% APR would be R1 232.82 per month. BetterLoans is an online loan broker and not a lender. Our service is free, and we work with NCR-licensed lenders in South Africa. Interest rates charged by lenders can start as low as 20% APR, including an initiation and service fee determined by the lender. The interest rate offered depends on the applicant’s credit score and other factors at the lender’s discretion. Loan amount R500 – R350 000. Repayment terms can range from 3 – 72 months. The minimum APR is 5%, and the maximum APR is 60%.

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