Your credit rating can make the difference between getting a loan and getting denied. Lenders use key factors called the "Four Cs" to determine your creditworthiness. But what exactly are the Four Cs?
The Four Cs refer to Capacity, Character, Collateral, and Capital. These range from your likelihood to repay your loan to how much you're worth. By understanding how the Four Cs affect your credit, you can work toward improving your rating.
Each of the Four Cs represents an essential component in your credit standing. Keep reading to learn what they are and how they apply to you. We'll also share key tips on improving your Four Cs, so you can enjoy the benefits of a strong credit score.
Four C's of Credit
Capacity, Character, Collateral, and Capital. These are the Four Cs that lenders use to determine whether you are worthy of a loan. In most cases, someone with a high credit rating will excel in each of the Four Cs.
But it's possible to have marks on your credit report that give lenders pause. And this is why it's so important to know what each of the Four Cs means. When you know what lenders look for, you can set goals to make the necessary changes in your spending habits and lifestyle.
And in doing so, you can start improving the "C" that you lack. If you lack in more than one "C," you will have a harder time restoring your credit standing, but it's not impossible. It just means you will probably have to work harder in attaining your goals.
Moreover, you may want to consider speaking with someone who specializes in rebuilding credit. It's certainly possible to improve your credit rating on your own, but it will take dedication and commitment.
But before you can effectively work on improving your Four Cs, you need to know what they mean. So let's examine them one at a time and discuss their relation to your creditworthiness.
What Do the Four C's of Credit Mean?
Each "C" plays a vital role in the overarching dynamics of your credit rating. Rather than determine your creditworthiness solely on the number of your credit score, lenders review specific factors about you and your credit. Let's start with Capacity and work our way down to Capital.
This component determines how much of a risk you are when it comes to borrowing money. If someone has a lot of debt and very little income, they might be deemed as too great of a risk if they want another loan or credit extension.
On the other hand, someone who has no debt and makes at least $100,000 annually will most likely get approved for any kind of loan they want because their Capacity to repay is high, and there's very little risk involved.
Character refers to your likelihood to repay your debt based on your trustworthiness and reliability. Does your credit history show that you've made an ongoing effort to pay off your debts, or have you missed payments and avoided debt?
Someone with strong Character will have past actions to back them up, showing that they've worked hard to pay back what they owe and reduce their debt.
Collateral refers to something that will be used as payment if someone doesn't pay their debt back on time or if they default on their loan. As is often the case, a borrower with poor Character or a limited capacity to repay debt may be asked to provide Collateral.
This way, if the borrower stops making payments or skips out on their loan altogether, the lender will have something of equal or greater value to collect on. Moreover, Collateral often gives borrowers with spotty credit history an incentive to make timely payments.
The final "C" is your worth as a borrower. Without looking at your Character or any other component, Capital shows the lender what kind of money you bring in and how much you have saved.
What's more, Capital also refers to your total accumulated assets. This can be anything from your car or home to your savings account or investments. If you lack in the other Cs, lenders can refer to your Capital to see if you can afford to repay them, at which point they may approve you, but with higher interest and fees.
Further Reading: Difference Between Debit and Credit Cards
Improving Your Four Cs
Credit is one of the building blocks of a strong financial history. Without it, you may have trouble obtaining the future things you want in life, such as a car, a house, or maybe even a job. But you won't be able to build your credit if you don't know where to start.
Pay Down Your Debt
The first step in improving your credit rating is to pay down your debt. Remember, the lower your debt-to-income ratio, the better. Taking action to reduce or eliminate debt will help improve your Character. This is appealing to lenders, as it shows you are committed to paying back what you owe. And as such, it goes a long way in highlighting your trustworthiness and reliability.
Track Your Monthly Expenses
It's important to keep track of your monthly expenses. Make sure you're not spending more money than you're making every month. Keep track of the date you get paid, the date your bills are due, and how much your monthly debt payments are.
This will help you ensure that your monthly debt load is manageable and that it doesn't get out of hand. What's more, it will help enhance your Capacity to repay your debt, as well as your Character.
A great way to show lenders that you have the Capacity and Capital to repay your debts is to start saving money right now. The more you have in assets, the better it will look when you apply for a loan. And if you choose to make wise investments, it can potentially give you more Collateral in the event that lenders request it.
Pay Your Bills on Time
One of the simplest ways to improve your credit score—and your Character—is by paying your bills on time. There are many pitfalls that can get in the way of paying your bills on time, so it's important that you make a budget and stick to it.
It's equally important to review all of your statements and make sure you're aware of when payments are due. Setting up automatic payments for your bills can be helpful because it removes some of the human error.
You should also pay close attention to what is on your statement and what you owe, so you don't get charged any late fees. If there is a mistake, contact the company immediately so that they can fix it before it becomes an issue.
Monitor Your Credit Report Every Three Months
Another important thing you can do to maintain a good credit rating is monitor your credit report every three months. Checking your report and making sure there are no errors on it will help ensure that you have a high credit rating.
It's also important to make sure your credit score is based on the most recent information. In order to establish good credit, you need to make sure that your credit score reflects an accurate representation of your history with money. If there are any errors in your credit report, then there's a chance that your score will not be accurate.
An accurate credit report will help improve your Capacity and Character, two essential components of the Four Cs that can make the difference in your getting approved for a loan or higher credit limit.
A great way to improve credit is to avoid getting into debt. If you have a credit card, use it responsibly and pay off what you owe each month. When you're in charge of your own finances, you feel more in control and less likely to impulse buy or spend your money on things you don't need.
Lenders pay close attention to your spending history to see whether you are responsible with your money. If it looks like you're using more money than you make, you will have a harder time getting approved for things you need in life.
The Four Cs play a critical role in your ability to get approved for loans and other things you need in life. As such, it's important that you do everything you can to keep your credit score high.
And in the event that you fall behind and your rating slips, you should take positive actions that directly improve your Four Cs. In doing so, you'll spend less time with negative marks on your report and more time enjoying the benefits of good credit.
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Shawn Manaher is a former financial advisor, has founded 5 online businesses, and is a coach, speaker, podcast host, and author. He's been featured on Forbes, The Consults Corner on TAE Radio, The Writing Biz, What's Your Story, and more.