Most people have to take their credit score into account at some point in their lives.
Our scores rise and fall according to our decisions, often before we even understand what credit is and what affects it. And those who have a low score can find their lifestyle is affected.
To help those who have found this is the case, credit expert Shaun Connell from Credit Building Tips has shared five actions you can take to improve your credit score quickly.
So check them out below so your credit score can soar before your eyes.
1. Keep your credit utilisation low
Your credit score is, in part, a measurement of how reliable you are at paying off the money you borrow. This score applies whether you're getting a massive 30-year mortgage or buying £40 worth of groceries on your credit card. You borrow money, you pay that money back, regularly and on time.
One aspect of credit that hugely factors into your score is utilisation. Credit utilisation is the amount of your total credit that you use. Utilisation also accounts for as much as a third of your credit score, so keeping your utilisation low can be a considerable boost.
Your target number is around 30% or lower and there’s a few ways to get there. You should aim to keep your total running balance across all of your cards – avoid borrowing too much whenever possible so that your cards are balanced properly. Getting and keeping your utilisation under 30% is a sure-fire way to boost your score.
2. Increase your credit limits
Millions of people live paycheck to paycheck and don't have the luxury of quickly paying down debt.
Luckily, Shaun says can approach the problem from the other side as well. Consider asking your financial institutions for a higher credit limit. If your account is in good standing – that is, no late payments – they may be more than happy to raise your limits. Increasing limits will lower your percentage utilised and can be helpful to your score – as long as you don't rack up even more debt.
3. Avoid closing old accounts
Another factor that goes into your credit score is the overall age of your credit history. The older your credit history, the more experience you have with managing your money appropriately, so the better off you'll be.
The trick here is that you have to keep old accounts active. You can't open a credit card and never use it.
Generally, Shaun's advice is to set up auto-pay on a bill or two and then forget about it. Even something as simple as a Netflix subscription can be enough to keep your line of credit active with relatively little risk of ever boosting utilisation too high or otherwise breaking the pattern.
4. Check and challenge credit errors
Banks can make errors, says Shaun. Payments – especially payments by check or mail – can slip through the cracks and reports can often get mixed up.
Once a year, at minimum, you want to request your credit report and look for errors.
These can be things such as late payments when you know you haven't missed a payment and information that isn't yours, like a line of credit you didn't open.
Start by creating a list of all of the errors you find, so you can keep track of what you challenge, when, and when it's removed. You want to maintain proof in case any of it reappears.
Next, gather any supporting evidence you can to challenge the errors—for example, payment and transaction history may show zero late fees to contest a late payment report.
At this point, you want to write a Credit Challenge Letter. This letter is a formal statement to the credit bureau that you are challenging a line on your credit report as inaccurate and why.
How much will your score rise?
Considering the above tips, how much can you raise your score? The truth is that it varies, says Shaun.
He commented: "Some of these steps can have a near-instant effect, and you'll see a bump in your score within a month or less. Others might be more long-term since credit scores are slow to change even in the best of times.
"Luckily, you don't need a perfect score. Getting your score above 750 can get you slightly lower interest rates or better loan terms, but the most significant benefit is bringing your score from under 500 to over 600. In practical terms, anything above 650 is good enough for most people."
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