When applying for credit, such as a payday loan, personal loan or credit card, responsible lenders will want to check that you’re able to take it on and pay it back comfortably. To help them do this, they use what’s known as a credit score. Here’s a guide to credit scores and how you can improve yours if it’s in need of a pick-me-up.
What is a credit score?
A credit score is an indication of your financial buoyancy. It helps lenders decide whether to lend money to you or not. If you’re applying for payday or short term loans, it’s likely a lender will want to check your credit score.
Typically, credit scores are formulated using a mix of:
- Your credit report – which contains information about your past credit history.
- Your application – why you want to borrow a payday loan, for example.
- Information about you – such as your job and your income.
- Historical information – any past information a lender may hold about you.
Generally speaking, people with a high credit score are more likely to get credit from lenders.
How can I boost my credit score?
There are lots of ways you can improve your credit score. Here’s a round-up of recommendations from experts including the Money Advice Service, Equifax and Experian.
Check your credit report for mistakes
There could be a mistake on your credit report, or someone could have used it fraudulently, so get it checked. According to the Money Advice Service, you have a legal right to see a copy of your credit report for just £2, and you can get a credit report from agencies including Experian and Equifax. Check your report and, if there are any errors, report them to your credit agency.
Get on the electoral register
The electoral register is a list of everyone who’s registered to vote. Lenders use it to check that you are who you say you are, so if you’re not yet on it, it could be well worth your while to do so. You can register online.
Pay down existing debt
Lenders are wary about giving money to people already in debt, so start paying down any debt you might have. You might find our tips for budgeting useful in keeping on top of your spending.
Keep your payments
Missing payments or making late payments – on things like credit cards, your mortgage, loans etc – have a negative impact on your credit score. Try and keep up with any existing payments you have.
Shut down any credit card accounts you don’t use
You might have a credit card account you opened years ago but simply never use. If so, close it. Lenders look at all sources of credit available to you, not just the ones you’re actually using.
Try and avoid a County Court Judgement
If you have an unpaid bill, you might get a County Court Judgement. Unless you pay back what you owe within a month, these judgements stay on your credit file for 6 years and can have a significant impact on your credit score.
Think about credit-building cards
To help people who have difficulties accessing credit, some lenders have developed ‘credit builder’ credit cards which, over time, help you build your credit score up. They are designed for people with a poor credit rating or for people who have never borrowed before.
Generic advice is not a service regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.