Credit Score

7 tips for first time home buyers

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Buying your first home can seem at times like climbing a particularly steep hill – daunting, confusing and with several pitfalls along the way.  Prices are still rising, with the average UK first-time buyer home now costing £184,973, 7% up on that of a year ago1.

And finding the money for a deposit without help from the Bank Of Mum And Dad can be a real challenge – the typical first-time buyer deposit is now £33,222 – that’s 133% of an average salary1. The average first-time buyer borrowed 3.49 times their income, and the average first-time buyer loan was an estimated £136,0001.

But with a few simple steps to prepare yourself financially, and make lenders see you in a positive light, you could approach buying your first home with a lot more confidence.

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5 things to know about registering to vote

Are you registered to vote in the UK? Yesterday Prime Minister Theresa May announced a General Election to take place on 8 June. To be eligible to vote, it’s likely you’ll need to register by midnight Monday 22 May. And did you know that being on the Electoral Roll could also help improve your credit score?

Here are five things you should know about registering to vote:

1.            How registering to vote could help improve your credit score. It’s important that your credit report includes your Electoral Roll details, as lenders use this information to help confirm your name, address and where you’ve lived before. This info usually has to be up to date before they are willing to offer a mortgage, a loan or any other form of financial account. Continue reading

Understanding why you were refused credit

The monthly financesIt can be a real pain when you make an unsuccessful credit application, especially when you can’t see why you were refused.

“But I’ve got a good credit score!”, “But I pay all my bills on time!”, “But I don’t even have a credit card!”, people may say.

When you apply for a credit card, a loan or even a mobile phone contract, it’s up to the lender to decide whether or not to lend to you – and they have varying methods to work out if you’re a risk worth taking.

New research from Experian* has found that 86% of Brits think that lenders should share information on the reasons why they have been refused credit.  If you’ve been turned down, only the lender can tell you why because only they know. If you ask, they should be able to give you the main reason.

Does being refused credit affect your credit score?

Experian’s research also found that 75% of the population think that being refused credit affects your credit score.

Being refused for credit is not, in itself, hazardous for your credit score. While your credit report will show that you applied for a credit card – it stays on for a year –  it won’t actually show whether or not you were accepted.

However, credit refusal can often lead to more attempts to get credit – and making a lot of applications in a short space of time could have a serious impact on your credit score, and your ability to get credit in the future.

That’s one reason why Experian have partnered with Credit Strategy for 2017 Credit Awareness Week, in which the aim is to empower people to improve their financial future.

Some common reasons to be refused credit:

  • You’ve missed or made late credit payments recently, which show up on your credit report
  • You’ve had a default or a CCJ in the past six years, which will show up on your credit report
  • You’ve made too many credit applications in a short space of time in the past six months
  • There are mistakes such as incorrect addresses or other errors on your application form
  • You may not fall into the target bracket for the type of credit you’ve applied for

Understanding the impact of your credit report

Did you know that 61% of homeowners have never checked their credit report? Your credit report is a summary of credit accounts you’ve had in the past six years – and that can include not only credit cards, loans and mortgages but also overdrafts, mobile phone contracts and certain utilities such as gas, electricity and water.

Lenders use it to take note of your repayment records and how well you’re coping with your finances, and use it, along with the info on your application form and info they might already have if you’re an existing customer, to help them make their lending decision.

In our survey, only 56% identified the lender as the one who makes the final decision for a credit card, with loan (61%) and mortgage (67%) not far ahead.

Interestingly, 76% said they would like to see more information on what they can do in the future to ensure they don’t get refused credit again.  Understanding how your credit report works could help you understand the reasons why you may have been refused credit – and help you manage your finances better in the future.

Understanding your credit score

We also found that the young don’t check their credit score. 85% of Brits aged 18-24 don’t know what their current credit score is, and almost three-quarters (73%) have never checked their credit score.

Your Experian Credit Score tells you how lenders may view you, which is useful when you apply for credit – and is FREE FOREVER. The higher your credit score, the more chance of being accepted for credit, at the best rates.

* Conducted by YouGov on behalf of CFA, 10th – 13th March 2017

Car finance: how to get the deals you want

Making memoriesDid you know that new car registrations are on the up? They were higher than ever in 2016, with over 2.6 million cars registered throughout the year.

And from 1 March, all new cars for the next six months now have the new 17 number plate. However, the forecast is not all rosy. The chief executive of the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders), Mike Hawes, said on 5 January that he thought this may have been a peak, and that 2017 would see a 5% decline due to the weak pound and the effects of Brexit.

Car finance is one of the most common examples of how we pay for ‘large ticket’ items, and a good credit rating can be the difference between getting a good interest rate or not, or sometimes getting any deal at all.

What are your car finance options?

If you decide to borrow credit to buy a car, the marketplace is vast, with plenty of rate and payment options. It’s worth comparing different loans and methods of finance so you get the one that’s best suited to your needs.

How could joint finances affect your credit rating?

Share a credit account? Then you share credit report information too.  Sharing finances can mean you’re more linked than you think, as lenders will often look at both of your credit reports when assessing your credit. 

If and when you apply for credit together, lenders will be able to see your partner’s financial information too and may use this when they make a decision about you when you next apply for credit. So we’ve put some tips to help you get up to speed with shared finances and credit.

Five top things you need to know about love and money

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  • Financial association means that your credit report can become linked to someone else’s through joint financial activity. This could be applying for a mortgage, opening a joint credit account, or in some cases even being on the same broadband or utility contract.

 

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  • Your credit report will only contain your financial information, but will show the name of anyone you share a financial connection with. If you share a credit application, each of you would see the other’s name in the section of your Experian Credit Report entitled ‘Financial Associations’.

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How often do you use your credit card?

Credit cardsIn January we asked our Twitter audience how often they use your credit card, and over 3500 of you replied.*

Over half of those who responded (53%) said they use their credit card at least once a week – with over one in four (27%) saying they use it every day.  Just over one in five (21%) said they use it monthly, while just over one in four said ‘other’.

We also asked How much of your credit card balance do you pay off every month?**
41% said they pay off the full balance of the card , while 18% told us they make sure they pay the minimum payment. A further 29% said they pay only what they can afford.

Finally, we asked What’s your priority when deciding to switch or compare cards***.
43% told us that reducing the interest they pay was the biggest priority, while 32% said that it depended on which rewards and benefits were available.

A wide range of responses such as this could mean that different credit cards may suit different people.  Think about what you actually want a credit card for. Is it for doing the weekly shop? Making a large purchase?  Or paying off a current debt at a better rate? Continue reading

Would a missed gym membership payment affect my credit report?

Gym membership and your credit reportIt’s no surprise that gym memberships rocket in January. Resolutions to shed the pounds in the new year are not uncommon, and gyms and fitness centres know full well that a high number of new members will find it hard to keep up their commitment beyond the end of the month, let alone the full year.

Even with introductory offers, gym membership can still be costly if you’re committed for a year upfront and are loathe to cancel.

Spending some time balancing out your income against your outgoings can be beneficial in the long run, and can also make you feel like you’re in control of your finances.  And the start of the year is often a good time to think about if there are any costs you can do without – outgoings you may no longer need or use.   

Besides gym membership, it might be satellite TV channels you never watch.  An extended warranty you didn’t really need to buy. It can all add up! A budget calculator may help you work out if you could live without it.

Would a missed gym membership payment affect my credit report?

Neil Stone from our Social support team says:  We’ve recently been contacted by a worried customer who was being chased by a debt collection agency over a missed gym membership payment and were concerned that it would impact their credit report. Continue reading

Credit card jargon buster – 10 top terms

Credit cardsEver wondered what some of the key credit card terms really mean? Here are our top ten.

  1. APR – The annual percentage rate is the price you pay each year for money you’ve borrowed, including interest and fees.  The representative APR is an advertised rate that a minimum percentage of customers will pay, usually 51% of those accepted.  If you’re not given the advertised rate, you’ll get a personal APR.
  2. Balance Transfer – This is when you choose to move credit card debt you already have to a lower or  0% interest credit card balance, usually for a transfer fee.  With a 0% balance transfer deal you can potentially give yourself longer to pay off an existing credit card debt, without having to pay interest. This is as long as you make the minimum monthly payment and stick to any other Ts and Cs. More about balance transfer cards here
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What you need to know about credit builder cards

For those who maybe haven’t got the credit history they’d like to have, the options for credit cards may be fewer.

But there are credit cards around which are aimed at helping you get your credit history back on track.

How do they work?

These no-frills cards are aimed at people who need to help build their credit history.  They often have low credit limits to start with and a high APR, but paying off the bill each month can help show lenders that you’re reliable.  Applying for too many cards at once can hurt your credit score even more, so it’s an idea to choose a credit card you’re more likely to get, and one that suits your needs best.

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How well do you know yourself?

How well do you know yourself? We decided to try and find out, one day last month in Nottingham.

And it turns out that while there’s a lot we do know about ourselves, one thing not many of us know is our credit score.

We set up a booth where people could pop in and answer some simple questions in our quiz – but one question above all foxed them.  Watch the video to find out how and why!

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