A Bag Don’t Come For Free

platsic-bag-fruit-300Yes, it’s now 5p for a ‘free’ bag! As you may know, from Monday 5 October that’s how much it’s likely to cost you for a single-use carrier bag at the supermarket.

It’s been in force for some time in the rest of the UK, but a change in the law in England now means that any shop that employs over 250 people full-time nationwide has to charge 5p for one of those plastic carrier bags – the ones many of us take for granted we’ll be given free.  Smaller businesses won’t be obliged to do so, but will be encouraged to start their own system for charging for bags. Continue reading

First Time Buyers: 5 tips to check your credit history

Visit Experian’s Experts and ask questions in person at the First Time Buyer Home Show, Saturday 10 October at the Business Design Centre, London N1. #FTBHomeShow

Could your credit history prevent you from getting a mortgage? Experian research has found that more than a quarter of people in the UK looking to buy their first home before 2016 –  around 1.81 million people  – have missed credit repayments, defaulted accounts and CCJs currently listed on their credit report*. And all of these could prevent them from securing a mortgage.

Managing credit accounts such as credit cards, mobile phone contracts and even some utility services can be important in order to build and maintain a good credit rating.

So if you’re looking to get on the housing ladder, how can understanding your credit history prepare you for a mortgage application?  Here are our 5 top tips.    Continue reading

All winners at the 2015 MAD Blog awards

Best Thrifty Blog winner Gina Caro with Experian's Jill O'Connor

Best Thrifty Blog winner Gina Caro with Experian’s Jill O’Connor

It was a great night at the 2015 MAD (Mum and Dad) Blog Awards last week as Gina Caro won Best Thrifty Blog, an award sponsored by Experian, for her marvellous Cold Tea and Smelly Nappies blog.

The Mum and Dad (MAD) Blog Awards are the UK’s biggest and most exciting awards for parent blogs, and this was the seventh edition, with around 300,000 nominations being cast from all over the country. Continue reading

Why your credit score matters – and 5 tips to improve it

Your credit score is often seen as the key that could unlock access to better credit deals, mortgage approvals & more. But who decides your credit score? And what are the factors that most affect it?

When you make an application for a loan, credit card, mortgage or other type of credit (such as a new utility contract or mobile-phone account), lenders look at your credit report to work out a credit score for you.  They do this so they can judge for themselves if they think you’ll be a responsible borrower and likely to repay what you owe them.

There is no ‘one’ universal credit score. Different lenders can score differently, using their own formulae based on their own factors – there really is no ‘magic number’.

The Experian Credit Score is a guide to help you understand your credit report, and how the way you’ve managed the credit you’ve had in the past might affect applications you’re making now, and can give you an indication of what kind of loan you might get. Usually, a higher score means you’re seen as lower risk – meaning you’re more likely to get credit, and at better rates.

Your Experian Credit Score is not set in stone – it’s a living, breathing thing and it changes along with your own financial behaviour. Getting your credit score up could open up the potential chance to get better loans – and at better rates.

5 tips for improving your Experian Credit Score

  1. Do try to stay within your credit limits and do try to pay your credit bills on time. Missed or late payments stay on your credit report for at least six years, and this can have a big impact on your score.
  2. Credit scoring can also look at the average age of your accounts, awarding extra points for longstanding relationships, so try not to chop and change all of your accounts on a regular basis.
  3. Review your credit report regularly: make sure it’s up to date, and that the information on it is accurate. If you do find anything that needs correcting, contact the relevant lender and ask for an amendment – Experian can also raise a dispute on your behalf. Even small details like the way your name and address is recorded could have a significant impact.  
  4. Don’t resort to a scattergun approach to credit applications, as each application is recorded on your credit report and if lenders see lots in a short period, they could think that you’re desperate or suspect a fraud.
  5. Make sure you register to vote at your current address, as lenders use the electoral register to help confirm who you are and where you live.

Talk to us
If you have questions you’d like answered about your Experian Credit Report and Score, our Twitter and Facebook customer service teams are online Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm. Saturdays 9am to 5pm.

You can also send in general credit or ID Fraud questions to James Jones, our Head of Consumer Affairs, who regularly answers queries on his popular Ask James column – a selection of which we regularly feature in this blog.

First time buyers: How you can get on the property ladder

Guest blog post from Stephen Dwelley, Director, sharetobuy.com

Visit the London Home Show - 26 September, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, 10am-5pm

Visit the London Home Show – 26 September, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, 10am-5pm

There are many challenges faced by first time buyers trying to get on the housing ladder, particularly for those without the help of the Bank of Mum and Dad.

First time buyers should not lose hope, however, as there are now a wide range of affordable housing schemes to help people get onto the housing ladder and progress to a larger property. These include:

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10 key finance tips for freshers

Sometimes I wonder if I got lucky when I was a student back in the olden days, with cheap accommodation, council grants and no tuition fees.

£23,187 was the estimated average student expenditure for the 2013/14 academic year* -so budgeting is one of the key skills freshers need to pick up.  So we’ve put together ten tips for this year’s crop of new students.

  1. To start with, it’s worth dividing your outgoings into what you need and what you like doing, while working out what you actually don’t need and can probably live without.
  2. What you need:  basic living costs like share of rent, utilities, TV licence, council tax & food plus unavoidable university costs like tuition fees, books, and a bit of spare cash for emergencies.
  3. What you like: things like gigs, clubbing, bars, clothes, general entertainment and going out. Try to set a budget for the week or month, and stick to it if you can…
  4. Also work out how much money you’ve going to have at your disposal before allocating a budget – besides any loan or grant you might have got, there might be earnings from part-time or temporary holiday jobs to consider. Once you’ve factored that in, it can be easier to plan how much you’ll have left.
  5. Got a long reading list? Share books with your classmates, borrow long-term from the library, or plunder second-hand book shops where past students will have deposited their old copies.
  6. Used items can be a very financially savvy way of buying the things you like too – things like laptops. DVDs, new or vintage clothes will be in good supply in any well-travelled university town.
  7. Students can be eligible for large discounts on all manner of products and services. NUS Extra is one of some websites worth signing up for.  Then there are gyms, cinemas and more that offer cheaper prices with NUS membership. Young person’s railcards and coachcards can also provide big discounts if you’re travelling around the country.
  8. Student bank accounts will invariably offer interest-free overdrafts, usually over £1000, and can also offer other useful services like free or discounted contents insurance.
  9. If you watch TV you’re going to need a licence, but remember you don’t have to pay the whole year up front – you can pay it quarterly or monthly, which can help with regular budgeting.
  10. Finally, food shopping needn’t be last-minute visits to big-name supermarkets – buying in bulk and freezing food, as well as sharing food and meals with your housemates, is a fun and sociable way to save money!

Experian also has a Credit Guide for Students and Young People, aimed at helping students & graduates understand how to use credit wisely to get the things they want in life.

*NUS estimated average student expenditure for the 2013/14 academic year

Matt’s story – how he turned his credit rating around

Matt managed to turn his credit rating around a short space of time and now owns his own home – here he tells us how he took control of his credit history to achieve what he wanted.

After running up huge balances on credit cards, mobile phone bills and being hit charges through missing payments, Matt found that it seriously affected his chances of getting a first mortgage.

Checking his Experian Credit Report and Score allowed him to see how he could sort out his finances, eliminate his defaults and ultimately help him get that first home.

Now much more money-savvy, he works for TopCashback and is dedicated to helping people get deals that could help them save money.

You can also check out Becci’s story of how she is using the Experian Credit Report and Score to help her save towards a mortgage here.

Twitter Q and A
Join Experian Expert Joe Green at @ Top_CashBack for a Twitter Q&A on improving your Experian Credit Score, between 12:30 – 13:30 on Friday 25 September.

Use #AskExperian when asking your questions. There are 3 chances to win a £100 gift voucher – full terms and conditions here

Helping children better understand the value of money

Although financial education became a compulsory part of the secondary-school curriculum in England in 2014, some pupils are still missing out, particularly in primary schools.

Research commissioned by Money Advice Service shows that by the age of seven children have developed their attitudes and values towards money, which are likely to stay with them for life.

Watch our new Credit Café video below, where we discuss financial education in primary schools

Indeed, children are likely to get their first mobile phone by the age of eight and begin online shopping by the age of 10.  So we can see it’s increasingly important to help children better understand the value of money at the earliest opportunity.

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How your credit report can help you get the best car finance deal

Guest post from Danielle Mannus, Social Media Manager at Zuto

Buying a car is one of the biggest purchasing decisions most people make and, with 75% of new car purchases involving finance, getting the best car finance deal available is really important.

As with most types of borrowing, car finance lenders review applicants’ financial records with credit reference agencies when deciding whether to offer finance, how much to lend and what interest rates to charge.  This means that viewing your credit report before applying for car finance, and making any changes that you can to improve your creditworthiness, will help you to get the best car finance deal available.

Watch Zuto car buying expert Ed Lewis discuss the impact of credit reports on car finance options further with Experian experts Darren Beach and James Jones:

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9 tips for buying a home with a partner

Buying a home with your partner or friends can be a much needed boost to get on the property ladder – helping to raise a bigger deposit and making your dream that extra bit more affordable.

Checking your Experian Credit Report can also help you see if and how you are financially linked. It can also help you understand if you need a little work to tidy up your credit history before a joint mortgage application is made. Here are some key tips we’ve put together to help you, if that’s what you’re about to do.


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