If you’re trying to rebuild your credit after some financial knockbacks, we’ve put together eight simple hacks to get you there. Sure, it won’t be an overnight fix, but once you have these steps under your belt, you’ll have all the building blocks you’ll need for a shiny new score.
Here’s a quick note on credit reports vs. credit scores before we dive in:
Credit reports are confusing
Checking your three credit reports can be totally bewildering if you’re not sure what you’re looking for and what lenders want to see from them.
Experian, Equifax and TransUnion each hold a credit report for you, but they understood that these reports are confusing to the public.
Cue, the credit score system being invented. The scores are to help you see how a lender may consider your credit report. So as much as your credit score is important, it’s your overall credit report (including credit history) that you want to work on.
What your credit report shows
Included on your credit report are things like:
- Your name, date of birth and address history.
- Your credit history (all your past credit agreement payments).
- How much of a credit limit you have and how much of it you’re spending.
- Hard credit checks — if you see a soft credit check, that information is only viewable to you (not a lender).
- Public records, such as being on the electoral register. But also bankruptcy or any County Court Judgments (CCJs) in the past six years.
- Your financial associates who you share joint accounts with (including utility bills).
Quick ways to improve your credit score
First things, first. Nothing in the credit building world seems to be quick. You’ll always need to exercise a certain level of patience with building your credit score. But these are some faster wins you can focus on first:
1. Register to vote
A really quick fix for your credit score is to register to vote (and no, they don’t care who you choose to vote for!).
Being registered is a fast way to boost your credit score by up to 50 points, according to Experian. It’s likely that this number will depend on whether or not you’ve recently had any negative factors affect your score. But it’s always worth tidying up your credit reports either way.
If you are ineligible to register, don’t worry — you can ask Experian, Equifax and TransUnion to add a ‘Notice of Correction’ to your respective files to explain this.
2. Check for errors
Speaking of tidying things up, time to check all three of your credit reports for errors (no matter how small they seem). Your information should be matching across all three reports, so get the magnifying glass out and check over the address history and for anything that looks suspicious.
If you do spot any fraudulent activity under your name, this needs to be flagged with Experian, Equifax and TransUnion urgently. This will likely lead to a Cifas note being added to your credit report. This will just give lenders a heads-up that your credit information has been used fraudulently so that they take this into consideration.
3. Remove ex-partners or old housemates
If you spy any exes on your credit reports and you’re no longer financially linked to them (by something like a joint account or a bill where more than one person is named) then ask the credit reference agency to have them removed.
Keeping this financial connection that you’re no longer linked with could lead to a bad result for your score if that person was to slip up and miss a credit payment.
You are co-scored with your financial associates, so they could potentially drag your score down with them if they make a financial misstep. You can avoid this by getting them removed now and being mindful of how this works going forward.
4. Spend below 25% of your credit limit
Lenders like to see evidence that you can responsibly manage your money. To them, having a credit limit of £1,000 doesn’t mean you should spend that full amount.
To show that you are managing your credit well, keep your spending at 25% or lower (£250, if your limit is £1,000). This way, it appears as though you are not relying on credit too heavily and lenders will consider you less of a risk.
This idea is called low credit utilisation and it’s a significant factor for your credit score.
Loqbox Grow is a clever way to take advantage of low credit utilisation. You’ll get a 0% interest credit account that will appear on your credit reports and your simple £2.50 a week Loqbox membership payments are charged against it. Read more about that here.
Long-term ways to improve your credit score
Once you’ve tackled the short term fixes, it’s all about dedication from here. Credit building takes time and patience, there’s no avoiding it. But instead of clock watching, try to focus on the process of building your credit instead.
5. Build up your credit history
Use these eight steps to keep your focus on building a long history of good credit use, rather than only looking to improve your credit scores. It’s your overall credit report (with credit history playing a major factor) that lenders will be looking at when you apply for credit in the future. Not the score.
So keep up the good work with never missing payments and paying off what you agreed to borrow on time, every month from here on out.
If you have any poor credit history now, once those are removed from your file (six years after), the lender will be looking at your newer credit history for evidence of your ‘risk factor’. So play the waiting game and get everything in order before then.
6. Spread out credit applications
Because applying for credit causes your credit score to dip, spreading out the time those hard credit checks happen is important.
Aim for one hard check every six months, and this should give your score time to recover from the drop.
7. Vary your types of credit
Once you’ve mastered the art of building your score, you may find the score starts to plateau… and how annoying after all your effort, right? By the time this happens, you may need to consider getting some variety in the type of borrowing you’re doing.
You can use your new found patience and six-month rule to apply for different credit agreements that show a variety to your responsible lending.
Loqbox can offer you a few types of credit reporting without needing to take out a new credit card. For example, if you’re renting (or even lodging and paying your or friend), Loqbox Rent could help you build your credit history with Experian. Read more about that here.
8. Keep proving you’re a responsible borrower
No matter what the circumstances were, if you’ve had any missed payments, defaults or CCJs, you’ll know how all about how it feels really unjust to have one of these sat on your credit file — especially while you wait the full six years for it to drop off your report.
The good news is that by the time you get to number eight on this list, you are already on your way to building your credit history and taking back control of any past mishaps.
You deserve to have a credit score that reflects you, so show those lenders who’s boss! It’s only six short years to have a full fresh start, and in the meantime, you have the skills and knowledge to stop that happening again in your financial future.
Plus, the more time that passes before the six years are up, the less those ‘bad’ credit marks matter to lenders looking at your report anyway. So keep at it, because you’ve got this!
Stop your score dropping again
Follow these eight steps and you’ll be on your way to financial mastery in no time.
If you haven’t looked already, Loqbox Coach is on hand to help you with a personalised financial plan, planners for debt management, savings, habit tracking and budgeting tools, and more — all free as part of a full Loqbox membership or Lite membership plan.