I’ll get to my husband’s story in a moment but first things first. By Nigerian law, you are entitled to one free credit report each year.
Your credit report shows your SMARTScore (how loan-worthy the banks think you are), your outstanding balances, delinquencies and lots of other information.
It is especially important to detect any inaccuracies (debts you’ve paid off but that still appear) before they lead to financial ruin. Occasionally, fraudsters can steal your BVN and get loans using your identity!
Downloading and viewing your credit report is therefore the first step to financial well being. Just click here (or on the image below) to download yours now. Below is an image of what it looks like.
Now on to my husband’s story…
Just two months before, Taiwo was elated. He’d been admitted to the prestigious Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in the US to study engineering. Then suddenly, his happiness vanished.
The little money his relatives had raised for him to go to America and study was gone, and part-time jobs were hard to come by.
Luckily, one of his friends suggested he apply for a Chase credit card. He did so, but with low expectations because he was just an immigrant from Africa and he did not believe that a major American bank could give him credit.
To his surprise, in less than two weeks, he received a Chase credit card with a $500 limit. This helped tide him over until he got an on-campus job.
Who knows what would have happened had he not got the credit card? Maybe he would have had to drop out until his relatives could send more money, after the harvest. The credit card gave him a lifeline, allowing him to buy time until the job came through.
Why would the venerable Chase Bank give credit to Taiwo? The answer, which I’ll share in a moment, may surprise you.
Eventually, Taiwo completed his engineering degree. He also met and married me (yours truly, Lady Jameelah), then worked for Microsoft for several years. He enjoyed a good life in the US—jollofing and all--but his heart ached for Nigeria, and he constantly thought of business ideas.
The one thing that always lurked in the back of his mind was the credit Chase Bank had given him as a student. He got it because the US has a well-established culture of credit based on trust and credit scores.
This credit reporting system lets lots of middle-class Americans enjoy a higher standard of living than they otherwise could if they had to save up for everything in advance.
But to keep benefiting from this system—and get loans at low interest rates-- you had to make the minimum payments when they were due.
Taiwo learned this the hard way when he tried to get a loan to buy some high-end furniture for his new apartment. The store pulled up his credit report, found he was delinquent on his Chase Bank credit card, and denied him the loan!
You see, Taiwo had never bothered to check his credit report. From that day, he regularly checked his credit score so that when he needed a loan for a major purchase, he could get one.
He also wondered, what if a similar credit reporting system existed in Nigeria?
Well, in 2001, Taiwo and I started CreditRegistry., And by 2003, Nigeria’s first public credit reporting system was born. Licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, today CreditRegistry is trusted to serve millions of consumers helping them get access to fast easy credit.
As Nigeria’s ioneer and largest credit bureau, we have a simple mission: provide you with free annual credit reports so you can know what lenders know before you go to apply for credit.
With CreditRegistry, you can improve and maintain your credit score and reach your dreams like Taiwo did.