20. Whitehorse, Yukon
The average credit score in Whitehorse is just 619, making it the worst of the major cities on this list.
With a score like that, you might be able to get your foot in the door of a loan office, but it will be all but impossible to get one of today’s record-low rates.
Nationwide, most mortgage lenders want a credit score of at least 650 but might go as low as 620 if the mortgage is insured. Below that, you’ll be forced to look at “B” lenders who will charge higher rates to make up for the risk you seem to pose.
19. Edmonton, Alberta
The average credit score in Edmonton is 625, well below its larger neighbour Calgary.
Equifax Canada reports that residents ended 2019 with slightly less debt (1.8%) than they ended 2018 with. The average Edmontonian owed $28,350, not including any mortgages.
While they’re improving, residents of Edmonton are still deeper in debt than residents of Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver or St. John’s.
18. Fredericton, New Brunswick
The average credit score in New Brunswick’s capital city is 628.
Home sales in the Picture Province hit an all-time high in June 2020, and Fredericton was no exception. Sales in the Fredericton area were up 53% from the same time last year.
This increased demand is driving up the average price of homes and the size of mortgages needed to buy. That means maintaining a good credit score is more important than ever for Frederictonians in the market for a new home.
17. Hamilton, Ontario
At 629, Hamilton has the lowest average credit score of the five Ontario cities on this list.
A 2018 report by the CMHC found the Steel City had one of the worst ratios of debt to income in the country, behind only Victoria, Toronto and Vancouver. It also noted that the problem in Hamilton was getting worse faster than anywhere else.
Because Hamilton is fairly close to Toronto, one of Canada’s hottest housing markets, home prices and mortgages are rising along with it. According to the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington, the average sale price in the region went from $550,000 in 2019 to over $617,000 in 2020.
16. Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
The average credit score in the cradle of Confederation is 636.
Prince Edward Island suffers from some of the same debt problems as the rest of Atlantic Canada, but its situation isn’t as severe.
Delinquency rates are high, meaning a significant number of people are behind on their payments by three months or more. All four Atlantic provinces exceeded the national average at the end of 2019, though Prince Edward Island (1.23%) wasn’t nearly as bad as its neighbours (1.8% and up).
P.E.I. was also the only province in Canada to improve its delinquency rate between the end of 2018 and the end of 2019.
15. Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Yellowknife’s average credit score is 637.
Despite the pandemic, the housing market in Yellowknife is booming. In July, home sales were up by nearly 50% compared to the same time last year, with realtors telling CBC that most houses under $500,000 were getting snatched up immediately.
With all of this demand, ’Knifers will need to make sure their credit score is up to snuff if they want to secure a big enough mortgage to buy one of the area’s hot-ticket homes.
14. Halifax, Nova Scotia
The average credit score in Halifax is 638.
Most major cities — including Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver — saw double-digit increases in their delinquency rates between the end of 2018 and the end of 2019. Meanwhile, Halifax actually improved a bit, lowering its rate by 1.36%.
Even though they’re getting better, Haligonians are still missing their payments more often than almost all of those cities, with the exception of Edmonton.
13. Winnipeg, Manitoba
Winnipeg’s average credit score is 638.
Manitobans carry less debt than residents of any other province, at just $18,914, excluding mortgages. Only Quebecers come close, at $19,833.
However, a full 28% of Manitobans say they only pay the minimum balance on their credit cards, according to an Ipsos poll from March. That number is rivalled by only Saskatchewan (also 28%) and Alberta (26%).
12. Regina, Saskatchewan
The average credit score in Regina is 642.
In 2019, Saskatchewanians carried an average of $24,789 in non-mortgage debt, which was roughly $1,000 more than the national average.
However, once the pandemic spooked consumers and reduced their options for spending, Saskatchewan’s non-mortgage debt dropped 2.44% in the first quarter of 2020 — the largest decrease of any province in the country.
That’s good news, as paying off your debt is one of the most effective ways to boost your credit score.
11. Iqaluit, Nunavut
The average credit score in Iqaluit is 644.
Iqaluit residents earn an average annual income of $60,688, according to the city’s official website. However, the cost of housing in the land of the midnight sun is not cheap.
The average rent for a two-bedroom dwelling in Iqaluit in 2018 was $2,678 — significantly higher than it was in other northern cities, like Whitehorse and Yellowknife. To buy a house in Iqaluit, you’ll have to shell out an average of $509,542.
In most of Canada, you’ll want to have a solid credit score of at least 650 to make sure you get the best rate on a sizable mortgage.
10. Brampton, Ontario
The Flower City, which has an average credit score of 646, is blooming at a rapid pace.
Brampton’s population has spiked over the past decade, growing twice as quickly as Toronto’s. Meanwhile, real estate prices have tripled: The average price for a detached house in 2019 was $908,354, up from $312,918 in 2009.
It’s clear residents need to save as much as they can on their mortgage. When you factor in property taxes, utilities and other municipal services, the average Bramptonian pays more for shelter than residents of neighbouring cities like Vaughan, Richmond Hill and Toronto.
9. Calgary, Alberta
Stampede City’s average credit score is a middling 650, as debt and delinquency remain serious problems.
At the end of 2019, Calgarians were carrying more non-mortgage debt than almost every other major Canadian city, according to data from Equifax.
The average was $29,789, and although that’s a slight decrease from the previous year, the delinquency rate in Calgary shot up 13.27% from the end of 2018.
8. Ottawa, Ontario
The average credit score in Bytown is 663.
The National Capital Region isn’t immune to the surge in home prices that’s overtaken Ontario in the past few years. By June 2020, the average sale price of a residential property in Ottawa hit $575,600, up almost 15% compared to the same month the year before.
Yet Ottawans have managed to keep paying their bills, with a delinquency rate considerably lower than Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax or St. John’s — and half that of Fort McMurray.
7. Montreal, Quebec
Debt loads are comparatively low in Montreal, which has an average credit score of 663.
At the end of 2019, Montrealers had an average non-mortgage debt of just $17,958. That’s the least debt of the nine major cities Equifax examined in its report.
While Montreal’s delinquency rate did rise 6.85% over the previous year, it’s the only Canadian city with a population of more than 1 million that did not see a double-digit increase.
6. St. John's, Newfoundland
Residents of St. John’s have an average credit score of 664 and carried an average non-mortgage debt of $25,549 at the end of 2019.
While the capital isn’t completely drowning in debt, a disturbing number of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are going broke. The number of personal insolvencies in the area has doubled since 2014.
Insolvencies typically take the form of either a bankruptcy or a consumer proposal, which is an agreement made with your creditor to pay back a percentage of what you owe or extend the timeframe you have to pay off your debts.
An insolvency will have a serious impact on your credit score and will stay on your credit report for years to come.
5. Mississauga, Ontario
The Harbour City has an average credit score of 671.
Like other areas near Toronto, Mississauga has seen the average price of houses skyrocket in recent months. Prices shot up 18% between July 2019 and July 2020.
July 2020 also saw a record-high number of homes sold in Mississauga — 11,081 — which is a 29.5% increase over the same month last year.
The average price of a home in Mississauga in July was a punishing $943,710, which means you’ll need a substantial mortgage if you want to move in — and a solid credit score if you want to save on interest.
4. Quebec City, Quebec
The capital of la belle province has an average credit score of 676.
In 2019, the provincial government introduced new rules on minimum credit card payments to force consumers to pay their debt down faster.
Under the new rules, banks in Quebec must set a minimum payment of at least 2% on existing cards, which will gradually increase to 5% by 2025. For new credit cards, the minimum payment must be at least 5%.
The change will keep debt from piling up quite so fast, but it will also make minimum payments harder for people who are struggling. Failing to make even a single minimum payment can lower your credit score substantially.
3. Toronto, Ontario
Hogtown makes it into the top three with a credit score of 679 — and boy, does this city need a good score more than ever.
Torontonians ended 2019 with an average non-mortgage debt of $23,492, up 2.4% from the end of 2018. That’s by far the largest year-over-year increase of the nine cities Equifax highlighted in its report.
Over that time, the average new mortgage in Toronto shot up 8.5% to $448,000, which is the highest increase on record.
If you’re hoping to qualify for a good interest rate on a pricey home, Toronto’s average credit score may not cut it. Experts recommend a credit score of at least 700 if you’re trying to buy above $1 million.
2. Victoria, British Columbia
Victoria’s average credit score is 679, but life isn’t all roses in the Garden City.
In July 2020, the average price of a single-family house hit a record high of $1.03 million. It’s also becoming more common for homes to sell for over $2 million, with 30 single-family homes hitting the mark compared to just nine in July 2019.
The city’s average credit score falls just one point shy of the minimum 680 needed to get your mortgage insured by the government. Default insurance is mandatory for anyone putting down a deposit of less than 20% down on a new home — and with housing prices this high, many borrowers in Victoria will need it.
1. Vancouver, British Columbia
Big congratulations to Vancity, as Borrowell’s report shows it has the highest credit score of any Canadian city at 687. However, that still only places it in the “fair” range.
Despite their fairly heavy debt load — $26,595 on average, without including their mortgages — Vancouverites are rock solid at paying their bills on time. The city’s delinquency rate was just 0.82% at the end of 2019, well below the other eight cities highlighted by Equifax.
It makes sense that the City of Glass is eager to save on interest. According to a recent survey by Century 21, Downtown Vancouver is currently the most expensive neighbourhood in Canada, with condos averaging $1,192 per square foot.
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