Your credit score is one of the most important measures of your financial health. It tells lenders how responsibly you use credit. The better your score, the easier you will find it to be approved for new loans or new lines of credit, as well as your ability to successfully get a mortgage.
However, your credit score can be negatively affected by several factors – your repayment history, any current debt, and even if you are on the electoral register, could all impact your credit score.
Making full repayments on time
When you take out credit, missed payments are recorded on your credit report. This may show lenders that you’re financially stretched, or that you’re having difficulty managing debt, which may negatively affect your chances of applying for credit in the future.
Making your repayments in full and on time can help prove to lenders that you are sensible with your money and can pay back what you borrow. If lenders see evidence that you have previously managed your credit accounts well, this may also help improve your credit score.
Existing access to credit
If you already have a significant amount of credit available, for example, if you have multiple credit cards or a large overdraft, lenders may view this as a negative. If you already have access to credit, why would you need to apply for more?
If you have credit cards you never use, it may help to close these accounts. It’s also important to remember though that what you owe should not make up a high proportion of your overall limit. It may be wise to balance paying off debts, with closing old accounts.
Registering on the electoral roll
Registering on the electoral roll can give lenders proof of your name and address. It allows them to verify your identity and can help to combat identity fraud.
Cutting financial ties
Having combined finances – like a joint mortgage or credit card – with someone else is called a financial association. Lenders can view their credit history even if you’re applying for credit on your own. If this is poor, it could affect your ability to gain credit, even if you’re applying for it on your own. If you’re rejected by too many lenders, this could have an impact on your own credit history, and affect your score.
Picking your applications
When you apply for credit, it leaves a ‘footprint’ on your credit report. As mentioned previously, making too many applications in a short space of time can have a negative impact on your credit score as it might indicate to lenders that you’re having difficulties applying for credit. This may also suggest that you have a poor financial record, and affect the success of your application.
Spacing out and limiting the number of applications you make may prevent this from happening. You can also ask your lender to run a ‘quotation search’ (instead of an application search) to help you compare rates – these do not leave a negative mark on your report.
Why do I need to build my credit score?
A good credit score can help increase your chances of successfully applying for a mortgage or loan. It can also improve your likelihood of being offered lower interest rates for repayments, or a higher spending limit on credit cards.
A low score may negatively impact your chances of being offered credit, as well as affecting the rates and terms of the loan – which can be a financial obstacle for the future.