7 steps to a great credit score
By Lucy Burgess
A higher credit score could help boost your chances of being approved for the best financial products (e.g. bonds/home loans, credit cards and loans). So it's always worth trying to work on your credit score and make it the best it can be.
If you want to get on with improving your score, here are 7 simple steps you can follow to boost your credit score:
Keep your credit utilisation low
For a better credit score, try not to use too much of your total available credit. Keeping your credit card utilisation low, preferably always under 50%, shows lenders that you can manage your credit sensibly.
Forgetting to pay bills can damage your credit score. Setting up direct debits to pay your utility bills, phone and credit card payments means you can relax, and your credit score will be all the better for it.
Fix mistakes on your report
If you have any mistakes on your report (such as a typo in your name or a wrong address) then it can affect your credit score. For example, if your name is wrong on your credit report, some of your credit accounts may not be correctly matched with your report. This means your credit score won’t benefit from any positive behaviours associated with these accounts.
By checking your credit report, you can spot (and fix) any mistakes
Look out for fraud
By regularly monitoring your credit report, you can check for signs of financial fraud. If you have been a victim of identity theft, there will be evidence of it on your report, such as new credit accounts you didn’t set up or enquiries on your report you don’t recognise.
Actively monitor your score
Lenders share all sorts of information about you with credit bureaus, who store this data so it can be used to assess your credit risk. ClearScore partners with Experian, which is one of four major credit bureaus in South Africa. The other three are called TransUnion, Compuscan and XDS. It’s worth checking in with all four companies to get a good overall view of your finances. Some provide access to your data with a free trial (but remember to cancel your subscription before the free trial ends).
Plan ahead when you need credit
Credit applications result in enquiries on your credit report, and too many could negatively impact your score. By planning in advance, you get your credit report in shape before making an important credit application. This will improve your chances of being accepted, which will help keep your credit score intact.
Build your score – use a credit card little and often
Using credit responsibly is a key element to building your score. Keeping your credit card active, by spending small amounts and paying them off each month, makes you appear more attractive to lenders. This is because it shows you can reliably pay back the money you borrow.
Lucy Burgess is a financial content mangager at ClearScore