Applying for credit can be daunting, but here are some steps to boost your chances of success.
No one likes rejection, but what if it’s a credit card company that you’re hoping won’t say the dreaded “No”?
And how can you minimise the chances of this happening?
When it comes to applying for a credit card it’s vital to tread carefully. Make a wrong move and you could make matters worse.
Kevin Mountford, head of banking at website MoneySuperMarket says: “It’s essential to understand your credit profile first, to help minimise the risk of rejection or being offered higher rates than expected, and to take action to improve it if needs be.”
Our appetite for taking on credit appears to be on the increase as the economy picks up. According to figures from the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) annual growth in borrowing by consumers on credit cards, overdrafts and personal loans has recently been increasing at the highest rate seen in six years.
So here are some tips from MoneySuperMarket on how to avoid pitfalls when applying for credit:
1. Check that the information on your credit report is correct. The major credit reference agencies are Experian, Equifax and Call Credit.
Make sure you understand your credit profile and check for any errors. If you find a mistake, contact the credit reference agency immediately and ask for it to be corrected. Even minor inaccuracies could count against you when a lender uses your credit file to weigh up whether they want to lend to you.
2. Pay on time.
A late bill payment could be marked on your credit file as missed, so even if you just make the minimum repayments, this will show that you can manage your bills effectively. Perhaps set up a direct debit so you don’t forget.
3. Think about closing unused accounts.
Financial firms look at the total amount of credit you have available to you, not just how much you owe, which means you might want to consider closing any accounts you no longer use.
4. Avoid a high balance.
Maxing out your credit card can be seen as a sign of financial stress. Try to remain within 30% of your credit limit.
5. Register to vote.
Companies use the electoral roll to combat identity fraud. Make sure you are registered at your current address.
6. Prove that you have a credit history.
When you apply for credit, you’ll be assessed on your previous behaviour, so showing that you have a history of paying back money in a responsible way is vital. Having too much – or too little credit – can lead to rejection, so the trick is to build up your history slowly.
7. Be honest.
Always complete credit applications accurately and honestly. Lenders can discover half-truths easily and turn down your application.
If you have had a recent change of circumstances, perhaps due to a redundancy or a divorce, it’s important to say so rather than to struggle to keep up your credit payments in silence.
You can also request a “notice of correction” on your credit file, explaining the background to any arrears, for example if you missed payments because of illness or unemployment.
8. Show that you are stable and secure.
Moving home or switching jobs can have an impact on the chances of successfully applying for credit. If you have moved around a lot, lenders could see you as a greater risk than someone who has been at the same address or in the same job for a period of time.
9. Aim for a target rather than taking the scattergun approach.
Finally, when you apply for credit, you leave a footprint behind. Multiple applications made in a short space of time could make lenders more nervous about your situation as they could be a sign of financial stress.
There are online tools which can help you to work out where you are more likely to be accepted for credit, without leaving a footprint behind on your credit file.