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What is a credit rating?
In a nutshell, your credit rating says how risky you are when it comes to borrowing money.
Different lenders will have different ways of calculating this score - there’s no single, definitive figure. But this score is nonetheless a reflection of your credit history.
Lenders will be able to see if you’ve missed any payments on other accounts. They’ll then use this as a way to predict how likely you are to keep on top of your payments with them.
A good credit history could mean you get more favourable terms on the credit you're borrowing, such as a lower interest rate.
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What's in a credit report?
Your credit report contains information about your borrowing habits to help lenders evaluate your credit history. This includes:
your personal details and previous addresses
any previous names you may have had
details of anyone you share a financial account with
details of any CCJs or bankruptcies from the last six years
previous searches made on you by financial companies
every application you’ve made for credit in the past six years
You may be able to improve your credit score by making sure these details are kept up-to-date, and can add notes to any records you feel are incorrect.
Why are people declined credit?
It’s not all smiles and sunshine, however. Lenders will refuse credit to anyone whose credit score doesn’t fit their profile of a good borrower.
There are a number of things that can impact your credit score, and which can hurt your chances of getting a credit card:
No house means no mortgage, which means you have less of a track record in making timely repayments.
Having multiple credit accounts.
If you already have several sets of debt, lenders may be nervous about you owing even more money.
Making multiple applications within 12 months.
If you’re applying for credit left, right and centre, lenders may think you’re desperate for extra cash.
A pay-as-you-go lifestyle may indicate that you can’t budget your finances well enough to make consistent repayments.
Not having a credit score.
If you’ve never borrowed money, you might not have a score at all. You may think this shows you’re good with money, but to a lender you’re an unknown risk.
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How do I find out my credit rating?
Three of the most popular places to find out your credit rating are Experian, Equifax and Noddle.
All three of these have a monthly subscription cost, but they offer a 30-day free trial too.
With these you can see your credit score as well as anything that could harm your rating e.g. unpaid bills or multiple applications for credit.
You’ll also be able to see which agencies have run credit checks against you – each check also impacts on your score.
Check out our section on credit checks for more information and to apply.
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What can I do to improve my score?
The idea here is to turn yourself into the perfect borrower, at least in the eyes of a car finance, loan or credit card company. To do this, it helps if you:
Get yourself on the electoral register.
Lenders use the electoral roll to check your name and address. Keeping your details up to date here makes life easier for them and, ultimately, you.
Pay all of your bills on time.
Showing that you can manage your money is a must. A few days can make the difference between your score going up and going down.
Keeping these details up-to-date is not only good practice, but could help you spot mistakes and potential fraud.
This shows that you don’t live up to the wire with your debt.
Not only does this incur a fee, but it also reflects badly on your money management.
Multiple applications can harm your score.
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