The CIBIL score is an integral part of every individual’s financial life, and is viewed seriously by lenders today. What a score does, in a nutshell, is indicate a borrower’s creditworthiness to a bank or financial institution, which is taken into consideration while determining whether to accept or reject a loan or credit card application.
A score while not considered in isolation – other factors such as your income, monthly commitments etc. are also taken into account – when reviewing an application, forms a major part of the sanction process. Higher the score better are your chances of loan approval. Even if your application is not rejected outright, it is likely that with a low score, you would not get a loan or credit card at the most competitive terms.
What then is a CIBIL score?
Ranging between 300 and 900, with CIBIL, a score of 750 and above is considered to be ‘good’ and is likely to pave the way for your loan or credit card application being approved.
What constitutes the CIBIL score?
Very broadly, below are the parameters taken into account when calculating the CIBIL score. Not just CIBIL, but bureaus internationally also consider the same factors.
The payment history, or repayment track record as well as the amount outstanding constitute a significant part of your score, so making timely payments becomes very critical to maintain a good score.
Credit score and usage
India is seeing increased acceptance of the credit score. In a recent development, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has mandated that financial institutions need to be members of all credit bureaus. This only shows the growing emphasis on the tool in the area of lending. There is no lender who does not pull a credit report and check the score when assessing an application.
In countries where the risk-based pricing model is used for lending, a credit score plays a very important role. Here, the interest rate on a loan is determined not only by the time value of money, but also by the financial institution’s estimation of the probability of loan default. A borrower who is less likely to default (based on the credit score, among other parameters) will be offered a lower interest rate. This essentially means that borrowers will pay interest rates depending upon their creditworthiness.
Further, if you look at the global trend, a credit score has moved beyond merely loan and credit card issuance. Insurance companies too check credit scores before they determine the premium a customer must pay; hence a score is called for at the time of underwriting a policy. Telecom operators use credit scores to determine the deposit one has to set down for a new phone connection, as well as to assign the credit limit. In a bid to safeguard their interests, if you are in the United States of America for instance, a landlord is likely to ask to see a copy of your report to decide whether to rent out their property to you or not. This helps them gauge the likelihood of the tenant skipping rent payment. Employers also check credit reports as part of the hiring process, especially when recruiting for jobs that require a high degree of confidentially and trust.
Therefore, a CIBIL score is indeed a big deal and cannot be overlooked by an individual.
How can you improve CIBIL score?
Merely having an average score will not suffice – it needs to be good, and in an ideal scenario worked upon so that it can be improved over time. Following can help you improve CIBIL score::
An individual needs diligent financial discipline and sound budgeting, in order to improve CIBIL score. It is advisable to track your score at regular intervals and remain credit healthy.
(Written by Arun Ramamurthy, author of “Unlock the Power of Your Credit Score” : India’s first book on credit scores)