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How to use credit to get yourself a great credit score

Using credit responsibly and checking your report regularly could help give your score the boost it needs for the future

Image by David Marcu on Unsplash

Looking for your perfect credit card?

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A good credit score can help you achieve your financial goals.

Whether you're looking for to pay off your debt faster, or are working up to a big purchase (a new sofa, a car, or an entire home!), a good credit score unlocks better credit products at better rates. So it's always worth working on your score - future you will thank you.

1. Make sure you have an active credit card

Using credit regularly and responsibly is a key element to building your score. Keeping at least one 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.

New to credit? Building your credit score can be a little bit chicken and egg. Luckily, credit builder cards are designed specifically for people with little credit history. They usually have very high interest rates (typically 30% or more) but they’re a powerful way to improve your credit score. And if you handle them responsibly, your provider will increase your credit limit and decrease your interest rate over time.

Looking for your perfect credit card? You can browse cards selected for you on ClearScore.

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 credit report. Too many of these in a short period of time can cause your score to take a hit.

You can avoid this by using an eligibility checker whenever you're browsing for credit. On ClearScore, our eligibility checker shows you how likely you are to be accepted for certain offers before you apply. And because we use 'soft' searches, you can relax knowing your credit score is safe.

3. Keep your credit utilisation low

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 in your ClearScore account. Check your credit utilisation now.

4. Pay your bills on time and in full

Forgetting to pay bills can damage your credit score as it suggests to lenders that you struggle to manage your credit well.

Worried about missing a payment? Make it automatic. You can set up direct debits to pay your utility, phone and credit card bills automatically every month. Just make sure you have enough to cover them in your current account.

You can pay just part of your balance (the ‘minimum payment’) every month without damaging your credit score. However, the remainder will be building up interest (unless your card currently has 0% interest). So it's best to pay off as much as you can every month.

5. 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. You can register for the electoral roll here. If you’re not sure if you’re registered, you’ll need to check with your local authority which you can do here.

6. 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, which is a credit reference agency. So if you find any mistakes on your credit report, you'll need to talk to Equifax directly. You can do this using our dispute form.


Hannah is currently studying for a Master's in Comparative Cultural Analysis. She knows all about personal finance, but as a student, she's an expert in money saving tips and tricks.