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Don’t be haunted by your credit score

Don’t be haunted by your credit score

Category: Credit cards

Updated: 16/11/2015
First Published: 26/10/2015

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Halloween is almost upon us, but while many people will be looking forward to being spooked by ghouls of the traditional variety, others will have more distressing hauntings on their mind – and a poor credit score can be particularly terrifying. But it doesn't have to be that way, and by being proactive, you could make the whole thing far less scary.

Top tips to improve your credit score

  • Check it on a regular basis. It may give you the chills, but checking your score on a regular basis is the best possible starting point. Figures from aqua credit cards show that three-quarters of people have no idea what their score is and over half don't know how to improve it, but if you take the time to look at your report you could identify areas that you need to work on to build up your score. There are plenty of credit check providers to choose from – Experian probably being the most well-known – so check out our comparison tool to get started.
  • Make sure you're on the electoral roll. Failing to be registered at your current address means you'll automatically be declined credit, as providers won't be able to complete their verification checks. This means that your credit score will have an instant black mark against it, so make sure you're properly registered before you apply for anything.
  • Build up a credit history. Having no credit history can be just as frightful as having a bad one – how will providers know that you're not a credit risk if they can't evaluate your past performance? So, if you're thinking of applying for a mortgage or loan in the near-future, start building up your history with a low-limit credit card. Use it for a few purchases each month and pay off the balance in full when your statement arrives and you'll soon show providers that you're credit-worthy. Remember, in order to secure a mortgage, credit card or personal loan you need to have a good credit rating. To find out if yours has a clean bill of health, contact a credit check provider, such as Experian CreditExpert to investigate your credit report.
  • Pay bills on time. Opening a bill can be enough to give anyone a fright, but that doesn't mean you should move it to the bottom of the pile. Face the fear head-on and pay anything you owe straight away – this includes anything from credit card bills to gas and electricity payments – as it shows lenders that you're responsible.
  • Don't miss any credit repayments. Similar to the above, but perhaps even more crucial – if you don't make every single one of your credit repayments your rating will suffer, and ideally (in the case of credit cards) you'll want to pay more than the minimum, too.
  • Put any nightmares to rest. If you notice anything ghoulish on your credit report that shouldn't be there – something that suggests you've been a victim of identity fraud, such as a credit card that you haven't taken out – contact the credit reference agency immediately and take steps to have your good name exonerated.
  • Avoid keeping a high balance on your credit cards, or having access to too much finance. If you've maxed out all of your credit cards, it could indicate that you're struggling with debt and may find it difficult to cope with any additional repayments, so take steps to reduce the balance before you apply for anything else. Similarly, you don't want to have access to too much credit as lenders may be reluctant to offer you any more, so close any accounts you no longer use.
  • Stop applying for credit. If you've tried applying for credit but were unsuccessful, don't keep applying elsewhere in the hope that you'll get lucky – every decline will leave a black mark on your credit rating, so if your application doesn't go through, work on ways to improve your score before applying for anything else.

What next?

Stop the haunting – compare credit check providers

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.

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