Want to improve your credit score? Tips to get you started

By Natasha Culzac
168

Disturbed by your shockingly low credit score? Join the club!

There are actually a number of things you can do right now to help increase all your scores across the board. No, bribery is not the answer – and who’s got the money for that, anyway. Do the following and you should hopefully see a boost in all your scores without the need to get out more credit. Are you worried that you might not land the credit score you need? Try these 10 ideas for improving your credit score.

 

1) Register to vote

According to Experian, being registered to vote adds roughly 50 points to your score. Apparently voters are statistically better with their finances, or something. You can register to vote online here.

2) Cancel unused credit or store cards

If you have more than a few empty/unused cards, then consolidate them. Having four cards lying around doing nothing is a big, red “fraud warning” to lenders. Having too much credit easily available to your grubby mitts can also, though you wouldn’t expect, be bad. However, you don’t need to get rid of them all – keep one or two. Your credit score is partly based on your behaviour and if you don’t have a string of successful payments on your account, because you’ve not been using the cards, then it might be worth changing this.

… 3) So start using the ones that are left over

Spend small amounts on the card(s) you decided to keep and pay your monthly bill on time. Tip: keep active the card(s) with the highest limit(s) as it shows to lenders that you’ve been assessed as particularly creditworthy in the past. The oldest card you own will also give a more favourable view, as it shows a long-term credit relationship. Keeping a well-managed credit card can actually boost your credit score, however there also pitfalls that you may not expect. To find out more, click here.

4) Start clearing a maxed-out credit card

If you don’t have the luxury of swimming in unused credit cards but instead have one or two that are maxed-out, then prioritise paying more than the minimum off. It doesn’t look good if you’ve chugged through nearly all of your available credit. You really want to be using less than 50% of the money open to you.

5) Set up Direct Debits for your bills

This is just so that you never run the risk of missing a payment. No matter how often we tell ourselves that we’ll pay on time, forgetting to will have a detrimental effect on your score. It’s not worth it.

6) Be careful when applying for credit

When you apply for credit, the lender does a hard credit check and these stay on your report for about a year. Too many around the same time smacks of financial desperation or even fraud. Try to space them out a bit. You can use online resources like MoneySupermarket’s eligibility calculator, which uses a soft search to try and pair you with loans and credit cards you’ll most likely be approved for, before rabidly applying for them all.

7) Break-up (again) from a former partner

If you held any credit agreements, such as a mortgage or overdraft, with an ex-partner or even an ex-friend, their credit history could still affect yours. If they’ve a bad credit history, close these accounts down. You can then disassociate yourself from that person by letting the credit reference agencies know you no longer hold a joint account. Experian has info here; Equifax here and CallCredit here.

8) Fix errors on your file

If you believe there’s a mistake on your file, such as a late payment which you actually paid on time, you can contact both your lender and the credit reference agency to dispute this. Also alert them to any fraud on your report. See our article ‘What to do about unfair defaults or errors on your credit report’ for more info.

Top takeaway

Be aware that you don’t have one universal score, because lenders do their own anonymous scoring and each credit reference agency has it’s own spectrum and methodologies. Treat whatever score you did see as a guide and do some of the above suggestions to help boost not only your score, but your report on a whole.

 

By Natasha Culzac

Thanks to a journalistic career history and a childhood at Sylvia Young Theatre School, Natasha has her fingers in a few professional pies, doing her best impression of a model and actor as well as personal finance writer. Outside of work she compulsively watches BBC period dramas and constantly lies to herself that this year will be the year she learns French, once and for all.

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