23rd March 2022 - 6 min read
Financial freedom can mean different things to different individuals. For instance, Ellis’ definition of financial freedom is having a comfortable amount of savings, investments, and accessible liquid assets for her and her family. On the other hand, for Ben, it is being able to afford an enjoyable retirement whereby his assets can multiply and sustain his current and future lifestyle. For others, it may be being financially secure enough to be able to make a career change without considering the salary offered.
When the pandemic first struck, many realised the importance of being financially secure and how having a safety net could make a world of a difference. Now that we’ve progressed into the economic recovery, some of us have surely reworked our financial goals to be more aligned with the current situation so we’re better prepared for the unexpected.
Regardless of your financial goals, being credit healthy is one of the first steps to ensuring your path to financial freedom. Why?
According to the Experian Malaysia State of Credit 2021 Report for Consumers, Malaysians have been doing fairly well in terms of maintaining their credit score, as the average i-SCORE improved across all age groups over the last 4 years.
On Experian’s i-SCORE, a good credit score is between 800-690, while any number below 630, calls for an improvement.
Note: Experian i-SCORE ranges between 300 to 800. A score above 620 is considered above average.
Think of your credit score as a deciding factor for banks’ approval when you apply for a credit card or loan. A good credit score will also likely get your application(s) approved faster, give you access to lower interest rates, allow you to negotiate interest rates and repayment plans, and even give you access to better credit card deals.
Sounds good? Here are a few steps to follow to build a great credit score.
As simple as it may sound, paying your bills on time can make a difference as it shows how disciplined you are in managing your financial obligations.
Consider setting up automatic payments from your bank account once your salary comes in or scheduling a reminder to pay your bills before their due date.
Tucked nicely in your wallet is a credit card or two that entitles you to more than a few special benefits. We’re talking about rewards points, cashback, premier miles, and so on.
However, it’s important to note that credit cards usually have a high-interest rate, depending on your monthly minimum payment. A typical Malaysian usually has 2 or more credit cards and in 2021, the average credit card balance was almost RM4000.
Average Balance on Credit Cards of Individuals (2018-2021)
It’s important to note that banks do look at how responsibly you’ve been using your credit cards. This means utilising not more than 30% of your credit and repaying the balance on schedule.
Therefore, use your beloved credit card(s) wisely and like your bills, pay them on time.
In 2021, the highest car loan balance racked an average of RM 46,377 amongst 36 to 50-year-olds, while the average mortgage balance increased 17% to RM 322,760.
Average Balance on Hire Purchases of Individuals (2018-2021)
If you have any current debts such as personal loans, mortgages, or a car loan, focus on clearing them as soon as you can according to your budget. Prioritise them in order of interest to minimise paying more in interest. This also includes all the online shopping you might’ve done during the Movement Control Order (MCO).
Aside from the sense of relief from clearing your debts and improving your credit score, you’ll also have the benefit of getting future loans for either a new home or car, approved quickly as banks can see that you’ve been diligent in your repayments in the past.
If you’ve had a few missed payments in the past and the present, avoid missing them in the future by calling the bank or owed companies, as you may risk lowering your credit score, paying late fees, and penalties.
If you require a payment reminder for your loans, consider JagaMyID by Experian. It offers a two-in-one service that includes credit profile movement and credit notification alerts for when there are unusual activities and if there should be any non-payments on your credit card or bank loan.
In Experian’s State of Credit Report 2021, individuals between the ages 22 to 28 had the highest past due dates of 90 days and more. This age group unfortunately also accounted for the lowest average credit scores.
Percentage of individuals with 90 days or more past due (2018-2021)
If you can negotiate the repayment terms or settle the overdue accounts, there’s a good chance of improving your credit score and achieving better financial health in the future.
It’s important to note that credit scores don’t improve instantly. Your credit score is a reflection of your mid to long-term financial behaviour. Once you’ve made the necessary adjustments, and continue to for the long run, you may consider obtaining an extensive credit report that may help provide a clear illustration of how you can further elevate your financial standing.
Get an overall and comprehensive look at your credit score by purchasing a Personal Credit Report Plus with Experian for a promotional price of only RM15.60!
Experian Personal Credit Report Plus (PCRP) is an easy-to-read credit report pertaining to how you manage your finances. It includes historical records on how and when you pay your loan, how much debt you owe and how long you have been managing loan/credit accounts. It highlights items such as your Experian i-Score, aka your credit score, banking information, Skim Potongan Gaji Angkasa, PTPTN, trade references, litigation history, and more.
What’s more, PCRP also offers constructive guides to help you improve or maintain your credit score, an added advantage if you’re looking to get into the best financial shape this year.
Until 31 March 2022, you stand a chance to win a RinggitPlus Financial Planning Plus Package worth RM999 when you purchase an Experian Personal Credit Report Plus.
This package includes 3 sessions with a Licensed Financial Planner in which you will receive a personalised financial plan, a comprehensive financial report, a financial plan execution guide, and tailored financial advice and recommendations.
Get into your best financial shape this year by getting to know your current financial health with a Personal Credit Report Plus with Experian. By understanding your financial health and creating a tailored plan based on your financial status, you’re already halfway towards your financial goals. For more information on Experian’s Personal Credit Report Plus and other products, head to their website here.
*The contents of this article do not constitute financial advice. Readers should conduct their research before making a financial decision. The material has not been reviewed by the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC).
Subscribe to our exclusive weekly newsletter and we’ll bring you the week’s highlights of financial news, expert tips, guides, and the latest credit card and e-wallet deals.
Stay tuned for what’s to come next in the personal finance world