Quick ways to improve your credit score

A poor credit score can make it difficult to get credit cards and loans at affordable interest rates. Getting on the electoral roll, having a pay-monthly mobile, and paying your household bills on time are all quick ways to improve your credit score.  

5 min read
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How can I improve my credit score? 

A low credit score can make it difficult to be approved for loans, credit cards, and mortgages at competitive interest rates. Fortunately, there are numerous ways you can boost your score. 

Before you start, check your credit report with all three of the credit reference agencies: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. You can then check back in a few months and see what’s changed. 

The exact course of action you should take depends on your circumstances. If you’re young or new to the UK, you’ll need to build your credit history from scratch. If you’ve had credit problems in the past, different actions are required to get back on track. 

How to build credit fast 

Credit reference agencies begin monitoring your credit when you turn 18, or when you move to the UK. In either situation, having no credit history can be as detrimental as having a poor credit history.  

Here are some easy ways to get your credit score up.  

  • Register to vote 

Apply to be added to the electoral roll online at Gov.uk. Being on the electoral register boosts your credit score as it makes it easier for lenders to check your identity. 

  • Open a bank account 

Having a current account will help your score, as lenders can use it to check your identity. It will also mean you can set up Direct Debits which will help you make payments on time.  

  • Get a ‘credit building’ credit card 

Credit building cards have higher APRs and low credit limits. Making regular, small transactions and paying off your card in full each month will boost your credit score. Use an eligibility checker before you apply.  

  • Pay your rent on time 

Rental payments will improve your score if your landlord is signed up to the Rental Exchange Initiative. Alternatively, you can use Canopy or Credit Ladder, which both track your rent payments and report them to the credit reference agencies. 

  • Get a pay-monthly mobile contract 

Paying your mobile bill on time will improve your credit score. Even with a thin credit history, you might be able to get a cheap handset and airtime deal or a SIM-only tariff. 

  • Have your name on a household bill 

If you live with other people, make sure your name is on at least one of the household bills, such as broadband, energy, or water, and make sure the bill is paid on time.  

  • Sign up for Experian Boost 

Experian Boost is a free tool that builds your credit history by taking previously unreported bills such as entertainment subscriptions and council tax into account. It will only affect your Experian credit score (not Equifax or TransUnion) and may or may not be considered by lenders using Experian. 

  • Pay insurance monthly 

When you pay for car or home insurance monthly, the insurer essentially gives you a loan for the year’s premium, and you repay it (with interest) each month. As this is a type of credit, paying on time will boost your score. However, it will cost more than if you paid the whole year’s insurance premium upfront. 

How to fix your credit score 

If you have a poor credit score due to past financial difficulties or missed bill payments, there are several things you can do to get your credit score up. 

  • Set up Direct Debits 

Setting up Direct Debits for regular bills and debt repayments will ensure that you never forget to make a payment again. However, be aware that if you don’t have sufficient funds in your account to pay a Direct Debit you could be charged a ‘returned Direct Debit fee’. 

  • Pay down your debts 

Decrease the total amount you owe by making regular payments and not borrowing more money elsewhere. 

  • Reduce your credit utilisation ratio 

Try to keep your credit card spending to 30% or less of your available credit limit. This percentage is known as your ‘credit utilisation ratio. 

  • Check your credit report for mistakes 

Search all your credit reports (from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) for errors concerning your name, address, date of birth, duplicate or closed accounts, errors on open accounts, and fraudulent activity.  

If you spot any inaccuracies, get in touch with the relevant lender to ask them to update their records, and this will feed through to your credit report in time.   

  • Check your associations 

A financial association is someone you're linked to through joint finances. An association will only be formed if you take out joint credit like a mortgage, loan, or bank account together – simply sharing an address doesn’t count. If you are associated with someone with a poor credit score, it can bring your score down. 

Once any joint accounts are closed, you can request a ‘notice of disassociation’ from each of the credit reference agencies.  

  • Avoid multiple credit applications 

Too many credit applications indicate to lenders that you might be struggling for money. You can use an eligibility checker to see if you’re likely to be accepted before applying for credit. These use ‘soft’ credit searches, which aren’t visible to lenders when they view your credit file (only you can see them).  

  • Be consistent 

Avoid moving home a lot if you can – frequent home moves could suggest you’re having trouble paying your rent. Sticking with the same bank and having a landline phone number can also improve your credit score. 

  • Add a ‘Notice of Correction’ 

This is a short statement that you can use to add further information to an entry on your credit report. For example, you might use it to explain that you missed loan repayments due to a bereavement or illness. Contact the relevant CRA to add the notice.  

While this won’t directly increase your credit score, it may help you get accepted for credit as lenders will be able to factor this notice in their decision. 

What not to do… 

The following will have a negative impact on your credit score. 

  • Making multiple applications for credit in a three to six-month period 

  • Missing bill payments 

  • Defaulting on debt payments 

  • Taking out cash on your credit card 

  • Only making minimum payments on credit cards 

  • Borrowing close to your credit limit 

  • County court judgements (CCJs), individual voluntary agreements (IVAs), or bankruptcy 

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Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.

Emma Lunn, Personal Finance Writer

Emma Lunn

Personal Finance Writer

Emma has been writing about personal finance for 20 years. She's passionate about helping people make better money decisions so they have the time and money to focus on the things they love. For her, that's racket sports, hiking, and travel.