Long gone are the days when people save up cash under a mattress to buy the items they desire. Credit is a part of life in this higher-purchase society, and few people really live without it. Finding yourself in a position where you have too poor a credit rating to obtain any credit can be daunting. If your credit rating has been damaged, you can find yourself in a position where you will be denied credit from most lenders, and those who will take the risk on you will charge you incredibly high rates. Perhaps worse than this is the fact that certain jobs, for example working in banks or jewelery stores, require credit checks. Being turned down for a job on the grounds of your credit could be a devastating blow.
But if you are in the position of having a poor credit rating, whatever the reasons for that may be, you are certainly not alone and it is not irreparable. Here are ten ways in which you can improve it.
1. The first step on the road to repairing your credit is to find out what the damage is! You can check your credit score free online at www.experian.com. Not only will this tell you what your credit score is, but the information on file will also enable you to see why it is like that.
2. If there is anything at all on your credit file that you do not believe is accurate, you should immediately write to the credit agency and dispute it. They will then investigate.
3. Make sure you are on the electoral register! This simple thing means that credit agencies have a means of verifying you exist and where you live, which makes you less of a lending risk. If you are not eligible to vote in your country of residence, then send proof of your address to the major credit reference agencies and ask them to note this on their records.
4. Consider a prepaid credit card. In using a prepaid credit card that charges a small monthly fee, because the small fee is deemed a “loan,” at the end of a 12-month period your credit file will display a loan paid off. These generally do not require credit checks to obtain.
5. Many banks are now offering credit cards secured against collateral in a savings account. So if you are in a position to put some money into a savings account, whatever this amount is will be the amount of credit you can obtain on a credit card of this type. If you are in a position to do this, it will be very beneficial in the long-term, providing that you pay the card off monthly. This will show positively on your record.
6. If you show defaults on your credit rating, then try contacting your creditors. If you can agree to a payment plan with the creditors and ask them to remove the default from their file, they are often open to discussing this possibility. Of course, you will need to stick to the new payment plan.
7. Do not apply repeatedly for credit in a short space of time. If you are declined for credit based on your credit score, the worst thing you could do is just immediately go out and apply for others. Applying for credit leaves a mark on your credit file. Repeated attempts in a short space of time do not look good.
8. Use savings to pay off debt. Paying debt off, even at the expense of your savings, does show up positively on file. It displays a willingness and ability to honor your debts.
9. Cancel unused credit. If you have never used those credit cards, why have them? Even unused credit that you have shows up on your file and it’s better in the longer term to just cancel them altogether.
10. Read around websites such as http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre13.shtm for information on credit scoring and personal finances.
The important thing is not to panic. A credit rating can be repaired, but aside from the steps listed above, you should also endeavor to figure out where it all went wrong and ensure it does not happen again. This might mean taking financial counseling and personal finance management classes to learn how to keep on top of your spending.