What’s a credit rating?
Credit ratings explained
Learn why your credit rating is important, and how to improve it so you’re more likely to be considered for a loan in future.
What is a credit rating?
Your credit rating is used by lenders to assess the risk of offering you credit. It’s calculated based on information in your credit report, such as:
- Your recent address history
- Any outstanding credit card and loan balances
How to improve your credit rating
Keeping up to date and on schedule with existing loan and credit card payments will show that you’re a reliable person to lend to. This is because regular payments such as Direct Debits or mobile phone contracts give the credit agencies information about your habits. If you pay them back in full and on time, it proves you’re good at managing your money.
You should also make sure you’re on the electoral roll. Banks will often check this to confirm details about you, such as your address, and if they’re incorrect or not available it could make the borrowing process more difficult.
Amend your credit report
Contact a credit-reference agency – such as Experian , Call Credit or Equifax – to get a copy of your credit report. There’s a small charge and you’ll need to provide the agency with your full name and addresses for the past 6 years. Once you have your report, you should check it thoroughly and identify any mistakes. You can appeal if you find any inaccuracies, or have a note added to your file to explain any special circumstances.
Increase your score
There are things you can do to improve your credit score. First, you should pay off any outstanding debt. Unpaid credit and county court judgements (CCJs) will remain on your file for 6 years, but once you pay them off, they’ll be marked as settled.
Second, show that you can use credit sensibly by using a credit card responsibly and paying it off regularly. If you’re refused credit, avoid making multiple applications at once as it can be seen as financial distress. Instead, work to improve your rating before applying for another loan.
What you shouldn’t do
Lenders look at your payment history when they are making decisions about your suitability for a loan. If you miss payments on credit cards or existing loans it suggests that you have difficulty managing and repaying the money you’ve borrowed, and lenders may decide that it would be unwise to lend to you.
Apply for too many things
Every application you make for new credit or other applicable products requires a credit search, and that search will show up on your credit report. Some lenders may consider applying for multiple products within a short period as a sign that you’re struggling financially.
Fail to update your address
You should make sure you always have the correct address registered on the electoral roll. Changing address frequently can also, sometimes, be seen as a sign of instability.