Improve Your Credit Rating - Help and Advice
In the current economic climate your credit rating matters more than ever as it’s one of the main factors lenders use when deciding whether to accept your credit application, and even how much to charge. It pays to make sure you’re achieving the highest credit rating possible.
Raise your chances of getting the best financial deals
Review your credit report on a regular basis
When you make an application for a loan, credit card, mortgage or other type of credit (such as a new utility contract or mobile phone account), lenders look at your credit report and may use the information contained within it when making their decision.
Review your credit report regularly to make sure it’s up to date and accurately reflects your circumstances as mistakes can hurt your credit rating. In particular, check your financial associations with other people. If, for example, you find you're still financially linked to an ex-partner, you can break this link by completing a disassociation form which will stop their credit history affecting yours - provided you no longer share any joint accounts.
Register to vote at your current address
Lenders use the electoral roll (electoral register) as a precaution against fraud, to check that you live where you say you do. Make sure you are registered to vote at your current address - see useful links below.
Keep up with repayments and pay on time
Lenders realise you may not have a perfect credit rating, but still want evidence that you will make repayments on time and that you aren’t already overstretched. If they see a patchy credit history that shows missed repayments or bad debts, it suggests that you struggle to manage credit effectively.
Stay within the agreed credit limits and make necessary monthly repayments in full and on time, paying more than the minimum off your credit cards each month if you can. Missed and late payments stay on your credit report for at least six years and may give lenders the impression that you could be a risk. If there’s a genuine reason for past problems - maybe you were ill or going through a divorce - you can add a notice of correction to your credit report - see useful links below.
Close unused accounts
Close unused credit accounts if you no longer require them. Lenders can take into account the credit limits available to you, not just what you currently owe. Also try to keep the balances on your card accounts to less than 25% of the credit limit. Lenders are likely to view low ‘utilisation’ as an indication of low risk, so this can really help your credit rating.
It’s better to have fewer, well-managed accounts, and long-standing accounts with good histories. Your credit report contains a list of your previous and current lenders - check yours online.
Space out credit applications
A lender will likely check and leave a credit application search footprint on your credit report each time you apply for credit. Space out your credit applications and limit making several applications close together as this could be a sign of financial stress to lenders, or even fraud.
Protect your identity
Look out for unfamiliar or suspicious entries in your credit report, such as an account you didn’t open, a sudden surge in the amount you owe or new credit applications you didn’t make - they could mean you’re a victim of identity fraud.
If you notice anything out of the ordinary, contact the relevant lender immediately and explain your situation - be prepared to provide evidence to support your case.
- About My Vote - Register to vote at your current address.
- Notice Of Correction - How to place a notice of correction on your credit report.
- Financial Connections Disassociation Form - Remove outdated financial links with other people.
One of the best ways to stay in control of your finances is to check your Experian credit report. You can do it for FREE with Experian CreditExpert*.