1. Know your score
2. Do a little more than the minimum
When it comes to repaying what you borrow, priority is to meet the minimum monthly payments. However if you can afford a little extra you may be able to clear off your debt early, saving on interest and proving your ability to manage money. Just beware of any early repayment fees.
3. Let’s get political
Make sure you’re registered on the electoral roll. It takes less than five minutes.
4. Proof of address
The electoral roll is all well and good but if you’re a non-Commonwealth or non-EU foreign national, this isn’t an option. Send all three main credit reference agencies a proof of residency (bills, UK driving licence, etc.) and ask them to verify this against your credit report.
5. Don’t be late
Any utility, phone or credit bills should always be paid on time. If you pay on time, you’ll be in the lender's good books. Set up a standing order with your bank to stay organised. You’ll avoid any late fees and improve your credit score. Win, win.
6. Use a soft search
‘Hard credit searches’ will impact your credit report and will be able to be seen by others. Constantly applying for different loans can make seem like you’re desperate for cash and this is not attractive to lenders. Use a soft credit search to avoid leaving a footprint on your profile.
7. Get feedback on declined applications
If you’ve been declined, there is no need to panic but you do need to find out why. You have the right to ask your lender why they declined your application. They could bring attention to something on your file you haven’t noticed.
8. Join the Rental Exchange scheme
You can be rewarded for something you already do; paying your rent. If you’re a private tenant sign up to Credit Ladder. You will send them your rent and they’ll pass it on to your landlord/letting agents. Experian will know you’ve paid on time, boosting your credit score. Simple.
9. It’s not me, it’s you
If you’re financially tied to someone with a poor credit report, it doesn’t look great on you. Your credit file shows everyone you are and have been financially linked to including partners, ex’s or housemates. If you don’t need to be linked to them anymore, cut off any ties. Your score will see the benefits.
10. Increase your credit limit - but don’t touch it!
Increasing your credit limit on your existing overdraft or credit cards show lenders you can be trusted with large credit amounts. However this doesn’t mean borrow more. You need to be disciplined otherwise you could risk getting into financial difficulty.
11. Don’t forget about store credit cards
Store cards can be very expensive, especially if you miss repayments. If you feel you don’t need or use the card anymore, pay off any remaining balance and close the account. If you use the card regularly make sure you make repayments or transfer the balance to a 0% balance transfer credit card.
12. It’s all in the timing
Closed credit accounts, unpaid accounts, history of debt collection and CCJs will stay on your credit report for six years. Hard credit searches and credit applications can last from one to two years. Learn more about your credit file. If you’re guilty of one of the above, it’s a good idea to know how long it’ll be there. It might be worth waiting until your blemish is wiped off, especially if you only need to wait a short while. With a bit of commitment, you can face your credit score and take back control.
Sarah joined Choose Wisely in July 2017, whilst still studying for her degree. Learning the ropes across different departments in the business including Customer Service Advisor for a period of time- making her the company’s closest link to their consumers experience with their finances.