Your Credit Score
When you apply for credit, or a service that requires payment at a later date, the company will use your ‘credit score’ to make their decision. Your credit score is a number, up to 1000 , based on how you have managed any credit accounts in the past, this can be things like mobile phone accounts, catalogue accounts, bank loans etc.
If you have always paid things back on time and not had any arrears, your credit score can be high. However, if you have missed payments, or paid late your score will be lowered.
There are 3 Credit Reference Agencies : Experian, Call Credit and Equifax. These companies hold information passed to them by anyone you may have dealt with in the past about money: banks, loan companies, insurance companies and some utility providers etc. If you apply for credit, the company you are dealing with will contact one, or all, of the Credit Reference agencies and ask for your credit history. This information helps the new creditor decide whether or not. to offer you the credit you have asked for.
You should also be aware that each lender will have it’s own ‘acceptable score’, so you might meet one company’s criteria but not another’s. Having said that, it isn’t a good idea to make lots of applications for credit at the same time as that that reflect badly on your credit score too.
People with high credit scores will find it easier to get lower interest rates and cheaper credit, and will not typically have as many limitations when it comes to things like opening bank accounts and getting loans.
When you have a poor credit score, lenders may not be as keen to give you credit, or will only offer you expensive credit. People with low credit scores may find it hard to open bank accounts or get loans.
Your credit score is affected by things like:
- missing payments or instalments
- bankruptcy or county court judgements (CCJs)
- fraud convictions
- lots of credit card / loan applications
- moving home a lot in a short space of time.
- Not being registered on the Electoral Roll to vote in local and government elections.
How do I find out my credit score?
It’s a good idea to request copies of your credit record once a year, that way you can keep track of what information is being recorded about you and helps prevent fraud.
The cheapest way is to request a ‘statutory copy’ for £2 from one or all of the Credit reference agencies. You will need to fill in an application form, which you can print from their websites, and send a postal order.
These companies usually offer a free report in return for opening an account to monitor your credit activity to prevent fraud tec. Be very wary of this as it can cost around £8 per month. If you do take up one of those ‘free trial’ offers on a credit report site, make sure you cancel the direct debit if you don’t want to continue to use the service.
You can also request a free copy of your Call Credit report by registering on www.noddle.co.uk.