Experts Blog

Expert advice, information and tools on a wide range of credit-related matters.

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

Identity Fraud hits record levels

To help you spot ID Fraud, we now offer Identity Fraud Monitoring for FREEAnyone can be a victim of identity fraud, whatever your age and status – and as identity fraud reached record levels in 2016, the young are the highest-growing target.

New statistics from fraud prevention organisation CIFAS has found that the overall number of recorded cases of Identity Fraud in the UK in 2016 were almost 173,000, an all-time high level and a 59% increase on the figures just three years earlier.

What’s more, almost 25,000 victims of fraud were aged under 30, and the number of under-21s affected was up by a third.

Did you know that almost nine out of ten (88%) identity frauds are now committed online? With so much personal data on the internet, we are all potentially vulnerable to hacking or phishing.  Your full name, date of birth, current address and national insurance number, and the passwords and PINs to your bank accounts are among the things fraudsters are hoping to get hold of.

Find out more about how Experian can help protect you from Identity Fraud here

Once identity fraudsters have enough of your personal details, they can apply for credit in your name and run up debts without you knowing. In fact, you’re 17 times more likely to suffer a case of fraud than a robbery.*

Continue reading

Budget 2017 – how will it affect you?

Chancellor Philip Hammond has just announced the final Spring Budget, and in it we saw investment in education (some controversial), money allocated towards the crisis in social care, increased NI on the self-employed and much more.

What you said
budget-twitter-poll-2017-400On Monday 6th March we asked our Twitter users to decide which of our choices they thought were the most important factors in the Budget – almost half our 4,265 respondents (47%) said social care, NHS and benefits were, with 25% saying national living wage and 22% income tax rates.

Among the most popular topics mentioned in ‘other’ were the state pension, defence and clamping down on tax havens, while by and large people accepted that tax rises would be needed as long as they could be ring-fenced for NHS and social care. Anyway, here’s a summary of what he said….

Personal taxes

  • The national living wage will rise to £7.50 per hour in April.
  • Personal allowance (how much you can earn in a year before being taxed) will rise to £11,500 – the seventh consecutive annual rise, with a rise to £12,500 the target by 2020.
  • Higher tax rate threshold will rise too from £43,000 to £45,000 (except in Scotland), with the aim being to reach £50,000 by 2020.
  • However, there is more tax on the self-employed – an extra £145m to be raised by 2021-22
  • National Insurance rises for the self-employed: class 4 NICs will increase to 10% in 2018, with a further 1% increase in 2019. Some experts say this goes contrary to the Government’s 2015 manifesto.  

Continue reading

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.

Save money by planning your summer holidays now

Dreaming of a summer holiday?

Dreaming of a summer holiday?

The price of summer package deals is soaring, with places like Mallorca, the Canaries and Portugal in great demand as ‘safe bets’ with a lot of cheaper destinations considered vulnerable to terror attacks. And that’s before you consider the strength of the Euro against the pound.

Google Trends figures show us that web searches for certain hot phrases are higher in January/February now than at any time of the year other than mid-summer, when most people are searching for the best crumbs of what’s left.

The term Package deals was searched more in the week 5-11 February than at almost any time in the previous 12 months, while Flights to Algarve reached a 12-month peak. Other terms to be significantly higher than at other times were Hotels in Spain, Flights to Portugal and Flights to Alicante. Continue reading

How do you manage shared finances?

manage-shared-finance_300x200Managing your finances and your relationship can be quite a balancing act. Share a credit account? Then you share credit report information too.  

It can mean you’re more linked than you think. If you have applied for credit together, lenders will usually look at both of your credit reports when working out any future credit applications, even if it’s only for one of you.  

To mark Valentine’s Day, we asked some of our favourite finance, family and budgeting bloggers to share with us how they’ve managed to balance love and money, and what their tips are to make shared finances – and sharing outgoings in general – as harmonious as the day Cupid’s arrow first arrives.

Joint finances, joint decisions

Emma from EmmaDrew.Info: “My husband and I earn significantly different amounts which we really struggled with. We now put all of our earnings into our joint bank account, which covers our joint spending. What really helped us was that we now both withdraw the same amount of “pocket money” from the joint account, meaning that we have a level footing. This has made such a difference to how we feel about our money and I would recommend it.”  @emmadrewinfo 

Continue reading

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

How could recent inflation rises affect us?

Small changes to the things we do on a regular basis can help cut down costs Did you know inflation in the UK reached a two-year high in December 2016? We look at how this could affect all of us.

With the weaker pound pushing up air fares and food prices, the cost of weekly shopping and jaunts abroad is on the up, not matter what your budget.

The  Office For National Statistics estimates that a basket of goods and services that cost £100 in December 2015 would have cost £101.60 in December 2016.  They put the rise down to “Price movements for the majority of the broad groups of goods and services.”

*Did you know: the most recent figures show that in 2014 the average food shop was £58.80, which would have meant an extra 50p a week in 2016 with these rises.* Continue reading

14 new Garden Villages to be built across the UK

Garden Villages to be builtWe now know where the 14 new ‘Garden Villages’  – new towns to help solve the housing crisis – will be. Their locations range from Cumbria to Cornwall.

Government ministers have backed plans for a brand new wave of ‘garden villages’ with between 1,500 and 10,000 new homes, in an effort to confront the growing lack of good housing stock.

Here’s where they are:

Long Marston (Stratford-on-Avon)
Oxfordshire Cotswold (west Oxfordshire)
Deenethorpe (east Northamptonshire)
Culm  (Devon)
Welborne (Hampshire)
West Carclaze (Cornwall)
Dunton Hills (Essex)
Spitalgate Heath (Lincolnshire)
Halsnead (Merseyside)
Longcross (Runnymede and Surrey Heath)
Bailrigg (Lancaster)
Infinity Garden Village (south Derbyshire)
St Cuthberts (near Carlisle)
North Cheshire (Cheshire)

Each village will include green spaces, good links to public transport and a wide mix of house prices, including affordable homes. Continue reading