Building a good credit history in the U.K. is important if you want to rent a flat (apartment), finance a car, get a mobile (cell) phone contract, start a business, set up a utility account, get a mortgage or even obtain employment in the country. You may have a low credit score because you have credit problems. Or you may have a low score because you had no need for credit in the past, have an irregular income, or are new to the U.K., among other reasons. If this is the case, follow these steps to build a good credit history.
Request a copy of your credit report to learn about your current credit history. This can be ordered for a small fee from one of the three main credit reference agencies in the U.K. These are Experian, Equifax and Call Credit.
Strengthen or build your credit history by applying for credit products tailored for people with poor credit ratings. Lovemoney.com recommends four credit cards if you are in this position. These are Aqua Mastercard, Barclaycard Initial, Capital One Classic and Vanquis Visa. You could also apply for a store card to build your credit rating. Be warned: these four credit cards and all store cards have very high APRs.
Use your new credit card or store card a little every month. But keep within your spending limit and repay your balance in full every month. This way you avoid penalties and worsening your credit rating. You also avoid paying interest.
Open only a few credit accounts. If you have many open, close those you will not use. Future creditors are detracted by a large combined limit, which may tempt you to spend above your means and into financial trouble. Having a few open accounts with zero balances proves to creditors that you can use credit responsibly.
Tell lenders and credit reference agencies where you live. Do this by contacting your local council to register your permanent address details on the electoral roll.
Review your credit report at least once a year to make sure it is correct. Check that all accounts listed belong to you.
Do not shop for credit. Every time you apply for credit, this is shown on your credit report. Too many applications suggests to potential lenders that you are a risky customer. Beware of credit repair companies offering to clean up your credit file. They often charge a substantial fee for information that can be obtained for a small fee from credit reference agencies or debt counselling services. For help with debt management, contact the National Debtline or the Consumer Credit Counselling Service. National Debtline Tricorne House 51-53 Hagley Road Edgbaston Birmingham, B16 8TP 011-44-808-808-4000 nationaldebtline.co.uk Consumer Credit Counselling Service Wade House Merrion Centre Leeds, LS2 8NG 011-44-0800-138-1111 cccs.co.uk