Obtaining credit can be stressful. Some people fear that they won't qualify for a much needed loan, and many don't know what they can do to improve their chances of qualifying for a loan. In this blog, we look at credit scores and how they're used to determine who does and who doesn't get a loan. More importantly, we also look at how you can improve your credit score, increasing your likelihood of getting both a loan and a lower interest rate.
Your credit score is calculated using different factors in your credit report, and is used as a prediction of how likely you are to pay back a loan. A high score means you're very likely to repay a loan while a low score indicates that you're likely to default. Lenders are obviously more likely to give a loan to someone who poses less of a risk.
How then do you prove to a lender that you're low risk? In the previous blog, Credit scores: everything you need to know, we took a broad look at credit scores, but in this blog we focus on what you can do to improve your credit score.
PAY ON TIME AND DON'T MISS PAYMENTS
Responsible financial behaviour includes the way you approach your existing credit. Always make your payments on time and try to aim for the same day each month. To avoid missing payments or paying late, both of which have a negative impact on your credit score, consider making your payments via debit order. The more consistent you are in making regular payments, the more your credit score will improve.
If you're struggling to make ends meet and won't be able to make a payment on time, talk to your creditors to find a solution. Responsible lenders don't aim to trap their customers in inescapable debt, and many will work with you to restructure your debt in such a way that you can pay it off.
GET OUT OF DEBT
Borrowers with small amounts of debt might not have any trouble putting aside enough money each month to make their repayments. But those heavily in debt will need a strategy, and some might even need to rely on a debt consolidation loan to make their debt manageable.
A repayment plan
Creating a repayment strategy means assessing all of your current debt and expenses and then working out a strategic plan to pay off your debt faster. This involves cutting all extra expenses, creating a strict budget, and sticking to it until you have reduced your debt drastically or at least made it manageable. Find out exactly how to do this in our blog on getting out of debt.
Debt consolidation loan
A debt consolidation loan can be a good solution if you find yourself with many monthly installments or uncontrollable debt. This strategy involves paying off your smaller debts with a single loan that has a longer repayment period. With lower monthly installments, you can more easily make your repayments, thus avoiding late payment charges and preventing any further damage to your credit score. To learn when you should take out a consolidation loan, read our blog about debt consolidation loans.
GET OFF THE BLACKLIST
The blacklist isn't really a list. Being blacklisted simply means that you have negative listings on your credit record. You could be in arrears or have judgements against you. Regardless of the reason, credit providers are very unlikely to lend you money if you have such marks on your record, and getting off the blacklist is always one of the first things you should do to improve your credit score.
Getting off the blacklist might involve paying off current debts, settling accounts in arrears, checking your credit report for accuracy and making sure your record is updated by a credit bureau. Once you've settled an account, credit providers have to report the settlement to credit bureaus within seven days. Credit Bureaus then have another seven days to remove the negative listing. For more detailed explanation of how to get off the blacklist, read our blog on getting off the blacklist.
Given the way the lenders will scrutinise your spending behaviour and financial history, you need to make sure that there aren't any red flags in your report. Your buyer behaviour needs to show that you are responsible with your money. Responsible spending behaviour means not taking out additional credit when you can't afford to and avoiding unnecessary costs (You don't need both Netflix and DSTV).
These steps may seem simple, but in time they will improve your credit score, helping you qualify for any essential loans and ensuring that you get a lower interest rate. If you know that getting out of debt is one of the steps that you need to take, read our blog on getting out of debt.