How to improve your credit score
How you improve your credit score depends what your credit rating is right now, but there are certainly a few steps that are worth taking for anyone regardless of your current credit worthiness.
1. Get your statutory credit reports
There are 3 main credit reference agencies (Experian, Equifax and Callcredit) and they are all required to give you a report showing what is on your credit file. They don’t always have the same info, so get a report from each – and they should all be free of charge.
Check through all of the reports and highlight any mistakes. Assuming those mistakes are impacting you negatively you should apply to have them removed. Anything positive that is shown in one, make sure it is added to the others.
2. Sign up for credit expert
This is a service offered by Experian which gives you more information than will be in your statutory report. All of the credit agencies offer a similar service but since Experian are the biggest and most widely used by lenders this is the best option.
Firstly, check your credit score to get an idea of where you are. Don’t worry too much about the actual number, but see whether your score is good, fair or worse. The actual number is just Experian’s way of making sense of all the data, but it is helpful as you can now check it each month to see whether it is improving.
3. Stop doing bad things
By bad things we mean anything that negatively impacts your credit rating. Hopefully all your biggest mishaps are in the past now but right now your credit rating is delicate and a silly slip up here and there can cost you.
Try to avoid the temptation to bury your head in the sand, check your bank balance daily and make sure you know what is coming in and going out. The easiest ways to hurt your credit are things like going over your overdraft limit, credit card limit or paying your credit card bill late.
4. Do more good things
Hopefully you do currently have access to credit, so step 4 is really just a case of using that credit responsibly. Don’t stop using your credit all together, this could hurt you further, just follow the suggestions in step 3 and use it wisely.
If you don’t have access to any credit at all then this may be your biggest challenge. Start by looking at your credit score any assessing just what credit you might be able to access. The best types of credit to start with are credit cards, but if your score is very low then you might need to look for a more specialist ‘poor credit’ credit card.
If this is your first credit product, make sure you use it carefully and pay it off regularly, otherwise you could hurt your credit further. As your credit score improves you should be able to apply for other forms of credit, don’t overdo it, but make use of credit regularly as you build your history.
By simply being aware of your credit rating you will naturally start making better decisions and you will be more inclined to work at it. Having little money is no fun and not wanting to check your bank balance is common, but once you get into the habit you will realise that your finances and your credit are improving.
What else can you do to improve your credit score?
There are a number of things you can try, here are a few:
- Make sure you pay your bills on time.
- If you’re not already on the electoral roll, get yourself on.
- If you have a credit card, make sure you meet the monthly minimum payments.
- Get a copy of your credit report and alert the credit reference agency if there are any errors or mistakes.
- Make sure you limit the amount of credit applications you make.
- Check regularly if there’s anything suspicious on your report.