A bad credit score is something that many of us have to live with and which can lead to increasing problems with further credit applications – be they for cellphone contracts, personal loans, retail accounts, credit cards or mortgages.
Unfortunately it’s all too easy to develop a bad credit score and the sorts of things that affect it range from previous poor payment histories (late or missed payments), county court judgements or bankruptcies, frequent home moves and general signs of an inability to properly manage credit.
A credit score is developed using a series of indicators, which are held and maintained by credit reference agencies – the main ones being Experian, CreditExpert and Equifax. Retailers, banks and companies granting credit use these agencies to measure a customer’s credit rating before granting a new credit product.
The good news is, it’s possible to rebuild a poor credit score with a little forward planning and careful work. The important stage first is to establish what your credit rating is.
Order Credit Report
You can order a copy of your credit report online, or by telephone and it costs just a few dollars. Use this to review your credit history and where you feel there are errors or misleading comments, then ask to have a note or amendment posted to the file. This is the first step.
Retailers, banks and other credit organizations will use these to help their decision making process and it shows positively that you’ve engaged with your own file as a responsible consumer.
From that first step, take further action to rebuild your credit score. There are different ways to do this and each should be approached carefully.
Credit Card Options
A good credit score needs a history of credit management. Strangely if you’ve never had credit, you’ll have no history at all. So for your second step, look at options such as pre-paid cards to show your ability to manage credit effectively.
If you’ve had bad credit in the past – failure to keep to repayments or regular late payments, then look at products such as bad credit credit cards. Bad credit credit cards are designed to help people rebuild and improve their credit histories.
They will offer a low credit rate, but with a high APR to reflect the higher risk. Buy items on it with caution – those really needed and within budget – and pay promptly and fully. If you can make additional payments on your bad credit credit cards within a month, this will also help to rebuild your rating.
Avoid moving around too much – particularly if you rent property. A stable address suggests stability to a lender and reassures them that they won’t have to chase payment across the country if a customer ever defaulted!
Finally, clear up your finances. Cancel and close down any old redundant accounts. Cancel any unused old credit cards, personal shopper accounts and other forms of credit. Too many credit cards reflects badly.
Look too at setting up a direct debit payment option rather than opting for a payment upon invoice approach – this also reassures lenders that repayment will be forthcoming. Avoid repaying the minimum amount, make extra payments to show you’re on top of your credit balances.
These tips should quickly get you back on the road to rebuilding your credit history and paying better prices for more accessible credit – something of increasing importance in an ever more challenging economic climate.