From school reports to exam results, life can feel like a point-scoring contest. Sadly, that doesn’t stop in adulthood, especially when it comes to your finances. Your credit score (if you didn’t already know) plays a pivotal part in whether or not you qualify for a mortgage, credit card or personal loan.
And just as your school report shows how diligent you are (or not) with your studies, so too does your credit score with your finances. A good or high score shows potential lenders that you’re financially responsible. That means you’re more likely to be approved for credit and be offered the best rates. On the flip side, a low or poor credit score can limit your options.
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Crucially, your credit score isn’t just about paying off your credit card on time. According to Katy Lomax, chief experience officer at financial services provider Capital One, “Being on top of your credit score is really important. If you have a low credit score, it can have a big impact on important milestones in your life, like when you apply for a mortgage or get car insurance.
“Lots of people don’t fully understand what factors can affect their credit score. There are lots of misconceptions around credit scores. You may be on top of your credit card payments but your credit score is based on how you manage all your credit.”
The good news is that experts at Capital One have put together five easy-to-action top tips on how to boost your credit score in 2022.
1. Register to vote
Registering on the electoral roll means that lenders can easily confirm who you are. Whether or not you choose to actually vote is up to you, but this is a quick way to boost your credit score without much effort on your part.
If you live in England, Wales or Scotland, you can check whether or not you’re registered by contacting your local Electoral Registration Office. If you live in Northern Ireland, contact the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland.
2. Pay bills on time
This is another easy tip that can help improve your credit score. While it sounds too simple to be effective, it really could boost your score. Paying on time shows you’re responsible and are on top of managing your money. If you’re forgetful, just set up direct debits or set reminders on your phone or calendar.
3. Pay off more than the minimum
If you can afford to, it’s a good idea to pay off more than the minimum on your credit card. This helps to keep your credit balance low and enables you to pay off debts quicker, which will boost your credit score.
4. Don’t go over your limit
This goes back to the old adage of living within your means. Although credit does allow you to buy things you can’t afford right now, it’s not a licence to splurge uncontrollably. That’s not to say you shouldn’t ever treat yourself. Just be mindful of how much you’re spending (and whether or not you really need to).
5. Use an eligibility checker
Each time you apply for credit, a ‘hard search’ is recorded on your credit report that lenders can see. Lots of applications (especially within a short space of time) could make it look like you desperately need credit. This is a red flag for lenders.
Instead, you can use an eligibility checker to do a ‘soft search’ that will tell you what the chances of approval are. These soft searches are not recorded on your credit report.
Where can you check your credit score?
There are four main credit reference agencies in the UK that keep track of your credit score. They work with lenders like banks and other retailers to help them decide whether or not to offer you credit.
You can check your credit score with each agency listed below. Bear in mind that you may have to subscribe to the service to get your free report, so remember to cancel before your free trial ends.