Tricks to improve your credit score

If you’ve ever been turned down for credit it could be down to something as simple as not being on the electoral roll, or a change in surname.

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There are plenty of simple oversights which could see your credit score suffer and mean you miss out on the best credit card deals. But there’s no need to lose out. Here, we show how making a few simple changes could send your credit score soaring…

Sign up to the electoral roll

If you've moved house recently, contact your local authority and get registered on the electoral roll with your new address. If you are not on the electoral roll, you may be refused credit as this is one of the ways that credit reference agencies check you are who you say you are.

If you not eligible to vote because you're a foreign national, send proof of your residency to all the credit reference agencies, such as Experian and Equifax, direct.

Get an alias if you’ve changed your surname

If you have changed your surname, contact a credit reference agency such as Experian to check that an ‘alias’ has been linked to your credit report.

This usually happens automatically via information sent to the agency by lenders but, in the event it doesn’t and your new name is not linked to your old one, your credit score could suffer. If it hasn’t happened automatically, then you will need to add your new name to your report, which can be done free of charge.

Correct mistakes on your credit report

Check that your credit report is accurate and free from mistakes by applying for a copy online in exchange for a small one-off fee – or a monthly fee if you want constant access to the report. If you don't recognise or disagree with an entry, notify the credit reference agency and ask for it to be corrected.

If you do spot a mistake, such as a company saying you defaulted on a payment when you didn’t, and the agency refuses to change the information on your file, you are  entitled to add your own comments as a 'notice of correction' which lenders are obliged to consider.

Break links to others with bad credit

Other things that can have a negative impact on your score include being ‘financially-linked’ to someone who does have credit problems, for example if you have a joint mortgage or credit card with them.

If your partner has a poor credit score, it is therefore a good idea to keep your finances completely separate to prevent your own file from becoming damaged.

Cancel dormant credit cards

If you have any credit cards sitting in your wallet, or even in the drawer, that you no longer use, cut them up and cancel your account. Banks are usually wary of people with lots of credit cards, even if they don’t owe very much on them – so this can make them reluctant to want to lend more.

Play by the rules

Sticking to your credit limits and always paying what you owe by the agreed payment dates shows lenders that you are a responsible borrower and, over time, will also improve your credit score.

When paying credit card bills, for example, the safest method is to set up a direct debit to repay preferably the full amount each month – or if not a set amount you know you can afford.

You could also set up an alert on your mobile phone to remind you when large payments such as your mortgage are due to come out of your account.

Use a credit builder credit card

If you have struggled with debts in the past and your credit score has been affected, you will be a lot less likely to be accepted for a mainstream credit card.

However, there are still attractive ‘credit builder’ credit cards deals that you may qualify for such as Aqua Reward, Aqua Classic and Aquis Visa cards.  The Aqua Reward card even offers 3% cashback on all purchases (up to £100). The representative APRs on these kinds of cards however, are a lot higher than on standard ones so you will need to be extra sure you clear your balance every month –  but, using these cards responsibly is the only way to rebuild your credit score anyway.

Credit builder cards can also be useful for people who haven’t used credit before. Having no history of borrowing can also result in you being rejected by lenders because they have no track record of payment to judge your reliability on.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct

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