Improving your credit score is not a quick fix. But making important changes can significantly help your chances of being approved for financial products including loans, credit cards, mortgages and even a cell phone.
Making a real and continued change takes time and a thought-out plan. In this guide, we’ll run through some steps you can take to make concrete improvements to your credit rating.
- Your credit score can improve by paying off debts and credit cards on-time
- You can build up your credit score – so even if it is low now, it can go up
- Building your credit score can take some time, but planning to pay off your debts is a good exercise
- Registering to vote can improve your credit score and its free!
- Close down any credit cards or store cards that you do not use
- Avoid making too many applications for loans quickly, since this makes you look desperate and a liability.
Why is Your Credit Score Important?
When you’re submitting a form for a loan, mortgage, credit card or a mobile phone contract, your credit rating is one of the most important things providers will take into account. Of course, they’ll look at other things too, such as the amount you want to borrow, your name, age and where you live.
But a credit score gives an indication of how well you have paid other types of credit and financial obligations in the past. So if you have a good or fair credit score, this will open you up to several financial products (see personal loans for fair credit scores) and essentially give you financial freedom.
So if you want to buy a car, a house or even rent an apartment, your credit score is important to help you get approved and get on with the important things in life.
A credit score is based on a numerical value, where the higher your score, the better your credit rating is – and this number is made up of multiple factors including your historical payment history, number of cards or loans open, your residence and even whether or not you vote. To find out more about how a lender checks your rating, read our guide how does a credit check work
How Do You Really Improve Your Credit Score?
To improve your credit score, you need to show that you can make payments for things on time, such as your cell phone, credit cards and other loans.
You automatically start with a zero credit score when you turn 18 and this will go up if you make payments on time, but every time you miss a payment on a credit card or loan and default, this will start to have a negative impact and make your credit score go down.
If you are starting from scratch, you may wish to get a credit card and even get a small credit limit. But the idea is to start spending and get used to making payments on time. This is a good exercise to show that you can handle credit and paying on-time, regularly and for a long period, will build up your credit score nicely.
If you have lots of existing debts, cards and loans, you need to find a way to pay them off. You could look at a larger debt consolidation loan or credit consolidation loan or take time to come up with a plan to really pay each one off or get up to date with payments. If you are really struggling, you could ask each creditor for a payment holiday or to offer repayment plan so you are paying off smaller amounts each month. But if you make a budget and keep to it, so that you could be debt free in 3, 6 or 12 months, this could be a powerful solution to build up your credit score. For more information, read our guide on how to repay debts.
Join The Electoral Register
The electoral register is a record of your name and personal information that can improve your credit. Registering to vote creates an account of your name, address and date of birth that lenders can use to confirm your identity.
This helps your chances of being approved by lenders and it instantly improves your credit score because it confirms your name, date of birth and address – and its free to do so!
For lenders, it adds a lot of peace of mind knowing that you are who you say you – and you can confirm your location too. Otherwise, you could be applying and living half way across the world.
Consider Your Utilisation Rate (or debt-to-loan ratio)
Your utilisation rate is something that lenders take into serious consideration before offering any credit products. A utilisation rate is a percentage which shows a lender how much credit you use compared to how much you are able to. This shows a lender that your not using credit irresponsibly.
For example, if you have a credit card that allows you to borrow $1000 per month and you use it for $100, your utilisation rate would be 10%. Some credit rating agencies suggest that you keep your utilisation rate at around 30%. This show that you’re a responsible borrower who keeps up with repayments and only borrows what you can afford.
Close Down Any Cards That You Do Not Use
Sure, every time you walk into a departmental store you might be offered a new credit card with lots of benefits. But if you have too much plastic, this does not look good on your credit score – since lenders think that you have access to a lot of cash and could use it at any point.
How can a guy have access to $10,000 in credit per month but he only has a salary of $2,000?? This means that lenders will likely stay clear of you and your credit score could be negatively impacted.
So if there are cards that you don’t need, just pay them off or close them altogether.
Avoid Applying for Too Many Loan Products Quickly
If you apply for lots of credit cards or loans in a short space of time, this could negatively impact your credit score. After all, someone looks pretty desperate if they are making 20 applications a day, every day for a week. This information will be recorded by a credit reference bureau and your credit score will be adjusted to reflect this risk to other lenders too.
This is where Pheabs can help. We are a loans connection service, so we will match your loan enquiry with the lender most likely to approve your application and offer you the best terms. So no need to apply with multiple lenders one-by-one, we can help you in one place, with no impact to your credit score.
Improving your credit score may be on your mind, but you have to remember that it doesn’t happen overnight. These things take time. If you’re looking to make immediate changes, implementing these methods is a great place to start but you’ll have to be patient!