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Whether it’s applying for a mortgage, credit card or insurance, a poor credit rating could be the difference between acceptance or rejection.
A clearer understanding of your credit and how to check credit scores could provide the help you need if a poor score is affecting your life.
If you find yourself asking questions like ‘what’s my credit rating?’ and ‘what is a credit check?’, then we can help with our How to Check Credit & What is a Credit Check? guide.
How to Check Credit Score
As a representation of your past money management, a credit score is invaluable to a lender and is often the first thing checked when you apply for credit. So if you’re looking for how to check credit scores to improve your chances of being accepted for credit, we can help.
In the UK, there are three main credit checking agencies:
Requesting a credit check from any of these agencies is completely free and can be done online. Each agency calculates credit scores slightly differently, but each score generated will still give a clear representation of who you are as a borrower and your financial behaviour. They may also look at any financial associations you may have (such as someone you share a bank account or mortgage with) and what their credit history is.
What is a Credit Check?
Typically undertaken by a lender when you apply for financial credit, such as a mortgage, a credit check simply involves searching over your financial history to date. This gives the lender an indication of your financial behaviour and whether you would make a reliable borrower or not.
When it comes to a credit score, there are many things that can affect it, including:
- Missing payments: If you have previously failed to meet payments with a lender, then your credit score will likely have been affected for the worse as missing payments can be reported to credit reference agencies.
- Opening new accounts repeatedly: Applying and opening multiple new credit accounts can temporarily lower your rating, so repeatedly opening accounts may indicate you are desperate for credit while also preventing your score from having the time to recover.
- Overdraft overuse: Constantly being at the bottom of your overdraft highlights to lenders that you may not be all that financially savvy when it comes to managing your money. Try to keep within any agreed credit limit as this will be viewed more positively by lenders.
It’s worth checking your credit rating regularly, about once a year, to make sure that there are no irregularities with the information held on your report. If you do find something wrong, such as a late payment mark you know to be incorrect, contact the creditor and ask them to update this or inform the agency who can request permission from the creditor to update your report.
What’s My Credit Rating?
Struggling to answer the questions of ‘what’s my credit rating and whether or not it’s good?’
A credit rating is simply just a three digit number that sits on a scale that ranges from 300 to 850. A rating of 700 and upwards is considered good, while scores falling below 550 are often labelled poor.
While a poor rating can put you at a disadvantage, it’s not the only thing that a lender will look at and there are ways to improve your score:
- Register to vote: If you haven’t already done so, registering on the electoral roll could make a difference to your score as it provides a reliable way of proving where you live.
- Get a credit card: Even if you don’t need one, having one credit card could put you at an advantage when trying to raise your credit score if used responsibly. Using a credit card and paying it off immediately shows that you can be reliable when it comes to credit and helps to build a positive financial history.
- Close unused accounts: If you do already have a number of credit accounts, closing those that aren’t in use is recommended. Owning a large number of accounts creates the impression to lenders that you aren’t that organised when it comes to money.
- Pay bills on time: Always paying your bills on time is one of the best and simplest ways of helping to build an image of an individual who is financially reliable.
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