Common causes of a bad credit rating include failing to stick to your credit agreement, paying the bare minimum on your credit card each month, and falling victim to identity theft. Learn how to steer clear of these financial pitfalls and keep your credit rating in tip-top shape with our list of the seven biggest drains on your credit score.
Have you been turned down for a loan, a credit card or a mortgage because of a bad credit rating? Perhaps you simply want to take steps to make sure your credit rating never gets in the way of your plans for the future. If you avoid these money-management pitfalls you shouldn’t go far wrong.
If you make a late payment, miss a payment or pay less than is required by your credit agreement, it all gets added to your credit history. Over time, this could lead to your credit score being classified as ‘very poor’ or ‘poor’ by the credit reference agencies that determine how easily you can borrow money.
For advice on staying in control of your finances, check out how to manage your credit repayments.
It will probably come as no surprise that declaring bankruptcy will significantly affect your credit rating. The same is true if you use an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA), which is a repayment agreement, made between a borrower and a lender when they are unable to pay their debts. If you’ve experienced bankruptcy, you can read our advice on improving your credit score.
It’s important that you choose a credit card that has a credit limit, interest rates and fees that will help you stay on top of your repayments and well within your balance limit. These are both factors that credit reference agencies use to decide your credit rating.
Card comparison tools like Barclaycard’s can help you choose a card that may work for your situation.
As long as you repay money you owe on time, you should never have to worry about County Court Judgements. If you are issued one, pay the full amount within one month and get a certificate from the court to say you’ve paid off the debt, otherwise the CCJ could affect your credit rating for six years.
If you’re worried there’s been a mix-up and a CCJ has been added to your credit history in error, you can get a statutory report which includes your score for a one-off fee of £2 by visiting the Experian, Equifax or Callcredit sites.
For more on keeping track of your credit history, read our article How to check your credit score.
It might be tempting to only repay the minimum amount on your credit card each month, but paying more than the minimum can mean you’ll spend less on interest and potentially improve your credit score.
Imagine doing everything to keep your credit rating in great condition, only for someone to compromise your credit cards, run up huge bills and damage your rating.
Even with secure online banking, identity theft and financial fraud can still happen. One way to protect your hard-earned credit score is to closely monitor accounts so you can quickly cancel your credit cards in response to unauthorised transactions. If you’re a Barclaycard customer you can access all of Experian’s credit score and monitoring tools for free to see if fraudulent borrowing has affected your rating – conditions apply. To spot problems early you could set up an email or text alert with your bank that’s triggered every time a transaction takes place. Here’s more advice on protecting yourself from fraud.
Your credit rating will also be affected if you’ve never taken out a credit card or any kind of loan. In these instances, the credit reference agencies have no information to go on when deciding whether you will pay off any money you borrow in a reliable and timely manner.
One way to repair a bad credit rating over time, is to get a credit card and stick closely to the repayment conditions while you build up your credit score. Check out our article ‘Should I get a credit card?’ if you’d like some tips on whether it’s the right move for you. You could also add to your credit history by making rental payments on time through the Rental Exchange scheme, as well as paying household and mobile phone bills on time.