Your credit score holds the key to accessing the cheapest loans and credit cards on the market. If your score isn’t up to scratch, here are our top tips on how you can improve it.
Get hold of your credit report
Whether you’ve just been turned down for credit by a lender or you’re about to make an application, it’s crucial to get hold of your credit report so you can work out your chances of being accepted.
MoneySuperMarket’s Credit Monitor app provides free access to your credit score and report, along with personalised tips and insights based on your report to help you get where you need to be.
If your score isn’t as high as you were hoping it would be, follow these steps to help you on your way:
Pay your bills on time
A missed payment can leave a mark on your file and can scupper your rating for a long time. That’s why it’s important to pay your bills on time and set up direct debits where possible so they’re not missed.
Build your credit history
If there’s no evidence that you’re a responsible borrower who pays back what you owe (because you’ve never borrowed money before), it can actually work against you.
The easiest way to build a credit history is by starting simply, for example with a credit builder card.
Check your report accuracy
Your report holds details on your financial history, which includes whether your accounts have been settled or if you have missed payments.
Sometimes this information can be incorrect, so check your credit report for its accuracy. If something looks incorrect, contact the provider to correct it. Similarly, you can add a ‘notice of correction’ which allows you to explain why a payment was missed.
Even though CCJs remain on your file for six years, they will be marked as settled when you pay them off.
Check your credit report to see if they are marked correctly, as the court should update the credit reference agency when you pay.
If there is a mistake and you need proof of payment, you may have to apply to the court for a ‘certificate of satisfaction’. You have to pay a fee for this, but it will improve your credit rating.
Get on the Electoral Roll
Registering on the Electoral Roll provides proof of address and is checked as part of your credit score. If you’re eligible to vote, registering to vote will also help improve your credit score.
For students, it doesn't matter if this is your term-time address or your parents’ address. Just make sure you are on the register and that you use the same address on any borrowing applications you make.
It helps if you don’t change address too often, and if remember to register to vote again when you do move.
Close unused credit card accounts
If you’ve applied for various credit cards over the years and now don't use some of them, consider closing unused card accounts.
A large overall credit limit, even if unused, could be seen negatively by some lenders.