When you apply for a credit card, loan, or mortgage, lenders will want to know that you can meet the terms for paying back the money. They will check your creditworthiness, your debt history, and whether you qualify to take more credit. One way they do this is by checking the 5 Cs of credit.

The 5 Cs of credit –character, capacity, capital, collateral, and conditions –help determine a borrower’s creditworthiness. Continue reading to learn what each one means.

Understanding the 5 Cs of Credit

The 5 Cs of evaluating a borrower’s creditworthiness incorporate both quantitative and qualitative measures. Lenders may examine a borrower’s income statements, credit scores, credit reports, and other documents that may shed light on a borrower’s financial situation. They may also consider the nature of the loan itself.

Here’s a close look at the five Cs of credit:


Character refers to your credit history or your track record for repaying past debts. Lenders can obtain information on a borrower’s credit history from credit reports generated by three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. The credit reports contain comprehensive information on how much you borrowed in the past and whether you made timely payments.

They also contain information on bankruptcies, foreclosures, and collection accounts, which they retain for seven to ten years. The information on credit reports helps lenders examine a borrower’s credit risk.


Capacity refers to a borrower’s ability to repay loans. Lenders evaluate your capacity by looking at your debt-to-income ratio—the amount of debt you have compared to your income. They also look at your credit scores from credit bureaus.

Generally, when a borrower has a low debt-to-income ratio, it signifies less risk to the lender and means that a borrower can take on additional debt.


Capital includes the assets, savings, and investments you’re willing to put toward a loan. A significant capital contribution by a borrower minimizes the chance of default. Think of capital as a down payment showing that you’re serious about the loan and are capable of paying it. As such, capital makes lenders more comfortable about extending credit. For instance, borrowers who can put a down payment for a home typically find it easier to receive a mortgage.


You can offer the lender collateral as security, typically for a secured credit card or secured loan. It can help you secure a loan if you don’t qualify based on your creditworthiness. Also, a credit card issuer or lender can take the collateral if you can’t make payments.

Whether or not you need to provide collateral and the type of collateral you provide will depend on the type of credit you are applying for. For a secured credit card, you will need to put down a cash deposit to open the account.


Lenders also evaluate the general conditions of the loan. For an individual, this may include the duration of employment, job stability, and the industry’s performance. For a business, the lenders may look at how long a business has been operational and the current and future performance of the industry in which it operates. Conditions may also include how the borrower intends to use the money.

Why are the 5 Cs Important

The 5 Cs help lenders assess and check the creditworthiness of borrowers. They also enable lenders to determine how much credit an applicant qualifies for and the interest rates they should charge for loans.

The 5Cs can also help borrowers determine whether they should apply for credit. They can also use them as a checklist for guiding their finances.

Which of the 5 Cs Focus on an Individual’s Credit History

Character refers to a borrower’s credit history and financial health. It incorporates a borrower’s credit score, payment history, credit report, and relationship with previous lenders.

What are the Principles of the 5Cs of Credit that Banks Operate On

The primary principle behind the 5 Cs is gauging the risk of extending credit to a given borrower. Lenders need to evaluate borrowers and the likelihood of them recovering proceeds from the borrowers.

Another key principle is determining how credit is priced. For example, borrowers with favorable 5 Cs may get better loan terms, while those with poor 5 Cs may face unfavorable terms.

Choose Financial Wellness Options from TruWest Credit Union

Having favorable 5 Cs can put you in an excellent position to get the financing you need. TruWest Credit Union’s financial wellness education services can help improve your financial well-being and ensure you have favorable 5 Cs for when you need financing. Stop in for a visit at our location nearest to you for financial help.


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