5 C’s of Credit: Overview, Factors, and Importance

What are the 5 C’s of Credit?

The “5 C’s of Credit” is a general term used to describe the five most important factors used to determine the creditworthiness of a potential borrower. Financial institutions use credit ratings to quantify and determine whether an applicant is eligible for a loan, and to determine the interest rates and credit limits for existing borrowers.

A credit report provides a comprehensive overview of the borrower’s total debt, current balances, credit limits, and the history of defaults and bankruptcies if any.

The 5 Cs of Credit refer to Character, Capacity, Collateral, Capital, and Conditions.

  • The first C is character—the applicant’s credit history.
  • The second C is capacity—the applicant’s debt-to-income ratio.
  • The third C is capital—the amount of money an applicant has.
  • The fourth C is collateral—an asset that can back or act as security for the loan.
  • The fifth C is conditions—the purpose of the loan, the amount involved, and prevailing interest rates.
5 c's of credit

We’ve rounded up the five characteristics and some tips for putting your best foot forward.

1. Character

What it is: A lender’s opinion on a borrower’s overall trustworthiness, credibility, and personality.

Why it matters: Banks want to give money to people who have responsibilities and who keep commitments.

How it is rated: Based on your work experience, credit history, credentials, references, reputation, and interactions with lenders.

How To Master It: “Character is something that you can control and promote, but only if you have a bank that takes care of relationships,”

Understanding: Character is the most comprehensive aspect of credit rating. The premise is that a person’s track record in managing credit and making payments indicates their “character” as relevant to the lender; i.e. their propensity to repay a loan on time. Past failures imply negligence or irresponsibility, which are undesirable traits.

Due to the degree of specialization required in compiling a detailed list of an individual’s credit history, financial intermediaries such as credit rating agencies or banks provide rating services. Reports produced by different organizations can vary to some degree. This includes the names of previous lenders, the type of credit extended, the payment date, outstanding liabilities, etc.

In some cases, credit scores can be assigned to numerically express creditworthiness. A common standard is a FICO score – which consolidates data from credit reporting agencies; i.e. Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – and calculates a person’s creditworthiness. A high score means less risk for the lender.

2. Capacity/Cashflow

What it is: Your ability to repay the loan.

Why It Matters: Lenders want to be sure that your business is generating enough cash flow to repay the loan in full.

How it is rated: From financial metrics and benchmarks (debt and liquidity metrics, cash flow statements), creditworthiness, borrowing, and repayment history.

How To Master It: Some online lenders may be more open to helping you fund instant cash flow gaps. If you focus on local banks, pay off the debt before filing an application. Also, before going to the bank, calculate your cash flow to understand your starting point.

Understanding: The borrower’s ability to repay the loan is a necessary factor in determining the risk to the lender. The level of income, employment history, and current job stability indicates the ability to repay outstanding debts. For example, small business owners with unstable cash flows can be viewed as “low capacity” borrowers. Other responsibilities, such as student children or terminally ill family members, are also taken into account when assessing future payment obligations.

A company’s debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, the ratio of its current debt to current income (before taxation), can be assessed. Collateral is not a fair key figure for quantifying one’s own performance, as it is only liquidated if the borrower does not repay the nominal amount of a loan, i.e. H. in the worst case of a credit transaction. In addition, no collateral is declared for unsecured loans such as credit cards.

3. Capital

What it is: The amount of money invested by the business owner or management team.

Why It Matters: Banks are more willing to lend to owners who have some of their own money invested in the company. It shows that you have some “skin in the game”.

How it is rated: From the amount of money that the borrower or management team has invested in the company.

How to Master It: Nearly 60% of small business owners use personal savings to start their business, according to the Small Business Administration. Keep records showing your investment in the company.

Understanding: Lenders also take into account any capital that the borrower invests in a potential investment. A high contribution from the borrower reduces the likelihood of default. Borrowers who can make a down payment on a home, for example, usually find it easier to take out a mortgage.

Even special mortgages designed to help more people own their homes, such as those offered by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) guaranteed loans, require borrowers to pay between 2% and 3.5% of their home. Down payments indicate the seriousness of the borrower, which can make it more convenient for lenders to loan out.

The size of the down payment can also affect the interest rates and terms of a borrower’s loan. In general, larger down payments lead to better rates and conditions. For example, on a mortgage loan, a down payment of 20% or more is designed to help a borrower avoid purchasing additional personal mortgage insurance (PMI).

4. Collateral

What it is: Assets that are used to guarantee or secure a loan.

Why It Matters: Collateral is a backup source when the borrower is unable to repay a loan.

How it is rated: From hard assets like real estate and equipment; Working capital, such as accounts receivable and inventory; and a home of the borrower, which can also be used as collateral.

How To Master It: Choosing the right business structure can help protect your personal assets from being seized by a lender if you are sued or a lender tries to collect. Establishing a legal entity helps reduce this risk.

Understanding: When considering a secured product like a car loan or a home loan, borrowers must pledge certain assets under their name as collateral. They can include tangible assets such as real estate or financial assets and securities such as bonds.

The value of the collateral is assessed by subtracting the value of the short-term loans secured by the same asset. The remaining equity indicates the true value of the collateral to the borrower. The assessment of the liquidity of collateral also depends on the type of asset, its location, and its potential marketability.

5. Conditions

What it is: The state of your business, whether it is growing or weakening, and what you will use the funds for. It also takes into account the economic climate, industry trends, and how these factors can affect your ability to repay the loan.

Why it matters: In order to guarantee the repayment of loans, banks want to grant loans to companies on favorable terms. They aim to identify risks and protect themselves accordingly.

How it is rated: From a review of the competitive landscape, supplier and customer relationships, and macroeconomic and industry-specific aspects.

How To Master It: You can’t control the economy, but you can plan ahead. While it may seem counter-intuitive, apply for a business line of credit if your business is strong.

Understanding: The terms of the loan, such as the interest rate and principal amount, affect the lender’s desire to fund the borrower. Terms can relate to how a borrower plans to use the money.

Consider a borrower applying for a car loan or a home improvement loan. Because of their specific purpose, a lender may be more likely to approve these loans than a signature loan that could be used for anything.

Additionally, lenders may consider conditions that are beyond the control of the borrower, such as the economic situation, industry trends, or upcoming legislative changes.