Credit Bureaus in India: A Major Overview of the Four Important Players
Credit bureaus namely CIBIL, CRIF Highmark, Experian and Equifax play important roles in the Indian financial ecosystem by offering credit details and scores to the banks and NBFCs, allowing them to evaluate the individual’s credibility for offering a credit option.
Explained here are each credit bureau’s background, services, and their impact on individuals’ credit profiles.
Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited (CIBIL)
CIBIL is the oldest and most renowned credit bureau in India. This bureau in India was introduced in 2000 and also received a license to operate from the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) the same year of its launch. CIBIL accumulates credit details from distinct financial institutions and banks and offers credit reports, scores and analytics to banks and NBFCs. The CIBIL score is a three-digit number ranging from 300 to 900, with a higher score indicating better creditworthiness. Individuals can access their CIBIL score and report by visiting the CIBIL website or by paying a nominal fee.
Example: Rajesh Patel wanted to apply for a personal loan. Before approaching a lender, he checked his CIBIL score online and found it to be 820, which increased his chances of loan approval.
Equifax Credit Information Services Private Limited
Equifax is a global credit bureau that entered the Indian market in 2010. It collects credit information from various financial institutions, telecom companies, and other sources to generate credit scores and reports. Equifax provides a comprehensive credit risk assessment by utilising advanced analytical tools and models.
Example: Rina Banerjee was planning to buy a car on credit. She requested her Equifax credit report and found that her credit utilisation ratio was high. By paying off some outstanding balances, she improved her credit utilisation, which positively impacted her Equifax credit score.
Experian Credit Information Services Private Limited
Experian is even an internationally recognised bureau in operation in our nation since 2006. This bureau accumulates credit details from various lenders, NBFCs and banks to offer credit reports, credit scores, and other value-added services to individuals and businesses, helping them make informed credit decisions.
Example: Sameer Lone wanted to apply for a credit card. Before proceeding, he reviewed his Experian credit report and noticed an error in his personal details. He contacted Experian’s customer support and initiated a CIBIL dispute to rectify the error, ensuring accurate credit information.
CRIF High Mark Credit Information Services Private Limited
CRIF High Mark is a relatively newer credit bureau that commenced operations in India in 2010. It gathers credit information from banks, NBFCs, housing finance companies, and microfinance institutions. CRIF High Mark provides credit reports, scores, and analytics to assist lenders in assessing creditworthiness.
Example: Pavan Desai was planning to expand his business and needed a business loan. He checked his CRIF High Mark credit report and found that his recent late payments were impacting his credit score. By improving his payment discipline, he boosted his creditworthiness and increased his chances of loan approval.
10 ways individuals can improve their creditworthiness
Pay bills and EMIs on time
Timely payments are crucial for maintaining a positive credit history. Consistently paying bills and EMIs on or before the due dates demonstrates financial responsibility and reliability to lenders.
Example: Karthik Srinivasan, a responsible borrower, ensures he pays his credit card bills and loan EMIs promptly, avoiding any late payments or defaults, which contributes to maintaining a good payment history.
Maintain a low credit utilisation ratio
The credit utilisation ratio is the percentage of available credit that you utilise. Keeping this ratio low (preferably below 30%) shows that you are not heavily reliant on credit and can manage your debts responsibly.
Example: Meera Rao understands the significance of maintaining a low credit utilisation ratio. She actively monitors her credit card balances and keeps them well below the limit, showcasing her prudent credit management skills.
Avoid multiple credit applications
Making frequent credit applications within a short span can raise concerns among lenders. Each application creates a “hard inquiry” on your credit report, potentially indicating financial distress or excessive borrowing.
Example: Deepa Sharma understands the potential negative impact of multiple credit applications. She refrains from applying for multiple loans or credit cards simultaneously, thereby maintaining a stable credit profile and reducing the risk of being perceived as credit hungry.
Maintain a diverse credit mix
Having a mix of secured and unsecured credit can enhance your creditworthiness. It indicates your ability to manage various types of credit responsibly and showcases your financial versatility.
Example: Rakesh Patel demonstrates a healthy credit mix by managing different types of credit, including credit cards, car loans, and a mortgage. This diverse credit portfolio highlights his ability to handle various financial obligations.
Regularly review credit reports
Regularly checking your credit reports from all credit bureaus is essential for identifying any errors, discrepancies, or fraudulent activities. Timely identification and rectification of such issues help maintain accurate credit information.
Example: Sudha Iyer acknowledges the importance of monitoring her credit reports. By reviewing her credit reports from different bureaus annually, she can identify and address any inaccuracies or inconsistencies promptly, ensuring her creditworthiness is not impacted due to incorrect information.
Close unused credit accounts
Having multiple open credit accounts, especially if they are unused, may lead to a perception of higher credit risk. Closing such accounts can simplify credit management and reduce the likelihood of identity theft or unauthorised usage.
Example: Siddharth Dasgupta streamlines his credit profile by closing any unused credit cards. This proactive approach helps him manage his credit more efficiently, reducing the risk of potential fraud or unauthorised transactions.
Maintain a stable employment history
Lenders consider stability and consistent income when assessing creditworthiness. A stable employment history showcases reliability and the ability to meet financial obligations.
Example: Vijay Kumar recognises the importance of employment stability. He ensures he stays with his employer for a reasonable duration, providing lenders with confidence in his ability to maintain a steady income and repay debts.
Keep credit inquiries minimal
Each time you apply for new credit, a “hard inquiry” is generated on your credit report. Multiple inquiries in a short period can negatively impact your credit score. Avoid unnecessary credit inquiries to maintain a healthy credit profile.
Example: Anjali Deshmukh avoids applying for store credit cards solely for the sake of discounts. By being mindful of unnecessary credit inquiries, she protects her credit score from being negatively affected by multiple hard inquiries.
Set up automatic payments
Enabling auto-debits for bills and loan EMIs ensures that payments are made on time consistently. This reduces the risk of missing due dates and helps maintain a positive payment history.
Example: Arjun Mehta takes advantage of the automatic payment feature for his utility bills and loan instalments. By setting up automatic payments, he ensures that his payments are made promptly, minimising the chances of accidental late payments.
Clear outstanding dues
Prioritising the clearing of any outstanding dues, such as overdue credit card balances or unpaid loans, is crucial for improving creditworthiness. Clearing such debts minimises negative impacts on credit scores.
Example: Harish Iyer diligently focuses on paying off his overdue credit card balances and resolving outstanding debts. By prioritising the clearance of his outstanding dues, he takes proactive steps towards improving his creditworthiness.
Understanding the operations of credit bureaus in India, such as CIBIL, Equifax, Experian, and CRIF High Mark, is crucial for individuals aiming to enhance their creditworthiness and looking to avail loans in the future. The preferred CIBIL score for personal loans, home loans, auto loans, etc. is usually 750 and above. By following the suggested ways mentioned above, individuals can take proactive steps towards improving their credit profiles and increasing their eligibility for personal loans. Regularly monitoring credit reports, addressing errors through CIBIL dispute procedures when necessary, and maintaining a healthy credit history are key factors that contribute to a strong credit score and better financial opportunities.