Your credit score is a bit like your health. Once you’ve got it in good shape, you can’t just sit back and expect it to maintain itself. Keeping your score at its best requires a bit of effort from you. Using credit little and often and checking your report regularly could help you keep your score in top shape.
A good score is a really useful financial tool. Having a higher score helps increase your chances of being approved for credit at the best rates, whether that’s a credit card or a mortgage for your dream house. If you’ve already got a good credit score then you may be thinking your work here is done. But it’s good to not take your foot completely off the pedal when it comes to your credit score and report.
As well as simply making your score as good as it can be, it’s also important to stay on top of your report and score by checking in regularly. This can help you monitor any changes (which could be unexpected) and even help you to spot fraud early.
To help you really become a master of your money, we’ve put together our top tips to maintaining (and even boosting) your score. Follow these and you can rest easy in the knowledge that your stellar score will be there for you if and when you need it in the future.
1. Use credit little and often
Using credit regularly and responsibly is a key element to both building your score in the first place and then maintaining it.
Keeping your credit card active, by spending small amounts and paying your bill off each month makes you appear more attractive to lenders and can help boost your score. This is because it shows you can reliably pay back any money you borrow and that you've recently been trusted with credit by other lenders.
Because your credit report is a record of only the last six years of your financial history, old information such as previous defaults or closed accounts gets cleared from your report after this time. If you used credit in the past but have now closed all your accounts, then there is the possibility that your score could fall, and after six years it could drop even further if there’s no other borrowing history on your report.
Keeping even just one credit account active can help to ensure you always have a strong credit history. You can put one recurring transaction on your credit card to make sure you stay on top of it.
2. If you do decide to take out credit, use an eligibility checker before you apply
Every time you make an application for credit, a 'hard search' is carried out on your account and a mark is left on your credit report and this can affect your score.
ClearScore’s eligibility checker lets you find out your chances of being accepted without affecting your credit report and score.
If you do happen to be rejected for credit, try to resist the temptation to apply multiple times. Instead, wait until some time has passed before you apply again.
3. Keep your credit utilisation low
This step is especially easy if you don’t see yourself using credit for any reason other than to improve and maintain your score.
For a better credit score, try not to use too much of your available credit. Keeping your credit card utilisation low, preferably under 30% of your limit, shows lenders that you can manage your credit sensibly. You can see how much of your credit you’ve used by logging in to your ClearScore account.
4. Pay your bills on time
Forgetting to pay bills can damage your credit score as it suggests to lenders that you struggle to manage your credit well.
To avoid this, you can set up direct debits to pay your utility bills, phone and credit card payments. This means you can relax, and your credit score will be all the better for it.
5. Fix mistakes on your report
No matter what your score is now, checking your credit report regularly is one of the best ways to keep on top of your finances.
If the information in your report isn't accurate (e.g. an account appearing as 'open' when it is 'closed') then your credit score won't be either. Checking your credit report regularly, you can spot (and fix) any mistakes, which can help boost your credit score.
ClearScore gets your credit report from Equifax, the credit reference agency. So if you find any mistakes on your credit report, you'll need to talk to Equifax directly (which you can do here. You can read more information about this on our FAQ.)
6. Get on the electoral roll
Getting on the electoral roll (also known as the electoral register) can help improve the way you're viewed by lenders, and boost your chances of getting accepted for credit. This is because credit reference agencies are able to verify who you are, which can make you appear more stable to lenders.