Borrowell was the first company to offer Canadians free access to their credit scores, and they’re still a worthwhile option in that arena now that they’re facing a little more competition. While you shouldn’t just blindly do whatever they tell you to, most people will still find plenty of value in their services and shouldn’t hesitate to avail themselves of them whenever they feel the need to check on their credit.
What Does Borrowell Do?
Borrowell was founded several years ago specifically for the purpose of helping Canadians find out what their current credit score is. This information is usually fairly hard to access and requires you to apply through a credit bureau and possibly even pay a fee for it if you do it more than once in a single year. This personal information that pertains to you and by all accounts should be under your ownership, but it is locked off by private companies to the detriment of average consumers like you.
Borrowell does away with all of those restrictions. They’ll give you access to your Equifax credit score (there’s not only one, so be careful!) at any time, and once you have an account with them, you can get periodic updates to your score if anything changes. You can also view your full credit report from time to time too, which allows you to see things like your credit card application history and keep an eye on anything that looks like it might have happened without your knowledge. Credit card fraud does happen, and this is one way you can protect yourself from it.
In addition to their credit monitoring services, they also do their best to counsel their customers with poor credit about ways in which they might improve their scores. This mostly takes the form of automated recommendations for financial products that you are likely to qualify for based on your financial profile. As we’ll discuss later, this can be less innocuous than it sounds, but it at least has the potential to provide some guidance for people who are worried about their credit future. They even operate as a lender in their own right and offer personal loans at rates that are generally more than fair (as long as you have the credit score to qualify for them).
Why Do You Want To Know Your Credit Score?
Your credit score is a way for lenders to easily understand how you generally behave when you have access to credit. It’s important for them to know this because it can help them to predict how you might react if they were to offer you a loan themselves. If you have a history of paying all your loans on time and never missing a payment or defaulting, you’ll have a high credit score, and they’ll know that they can trust you to pay them back too. They’ll also probably offer you a lower interest rate on that loan because it’s practically guaranteed money for them.
On the other hand, if you’ve had credit problems in the past, your score will be low and lenders will realize that any money they give you will not necessarily be returned to them. To make up for that, they’ll charge you a higher amount of interest so that they can recoup the full amount faster and potentially make a little more profit for having taken the risk. If you don’t have a credit score at all, you don’t have any experience and are essentially a wildcard to them (something which is not looked upon favourably in most instances). If your score is poor or has yet to exist at all, you’ll want to do what you can to fix that as soon as possible and measure your progress as you go, which is why credit monitoring services like this can be invaluable to those who want to give themselves the best possible chance in the financial market.
What Are the Risks?
Those who say that nothing in life is ever truly free might have been on to something, but it’s only partly true in Borrowell’s case. Their credit score services, which are the bulk of what most people want from them, really are completely free on their own. The company chooses not to charge users directly, but since they still have to make some money somehow, they instead run an affiliate advertising program for financial products (they show you products you can easily get, and they get a small commission every time someone successfully applies for one of them. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this practice, and many times it can be a great arrangement that is mutually beneficial to go ahead with.
The potential trouble surfaces when a person who is not ready for the responsibility of a loan or credit card (be it financially or emotionally) sees those offers and decides to apply for one because ‘why not?’ The obligations of loans are not easy to meet if you aren’t prepared for the strain, and just one wrong move can cost you a hefty sum in interest and possibly make it even harder to make the payments you need to. This is especially the case when they happen to include their own loans among a person’s product recommendations display. In those cases, it’s hard not to wonder if there’s a bit of a conflict of interest at play. That’s not true in the strictest of terms, since Borrowell never actually does anything more than suggest these products to you, but they are definitely trying to make their products look appealing. All in all, if you’re going to use this company’s services, go in either intending to choose one of the displayed offers or to ignore them entirely: it’s the safest way to ensure that things don’t go awry.
Go Ahead: Give Borrowell a Try
Borrowell is not the be-all-end-all of credit scores, but it’s a great place to start and it won’t cost you anything to take a look at yours. It’s the ancillary products that might get you into trouble, but those are not an inherent part of the experience of using this service. Just remember to be a little more cautious when it comes to their product recommendations and especially their in-house personal loans and you’ll be able to enjoy this great offer at no risk to yourself.