3 steps to a good credit score

Your credit score is a lot like a school report card: it reflects how disciplined you’ve been. Academic marks reflect a commitment to studying, while a credit record shows a commitment to paying off debt. And like school reports, credit scores improve with good behaviour.

 

Be wise: prioritise your repayments

The first step to a good credit score is to make sure you pay your accounts on time. A missed payment or a failed debit order will reflect on your record.

If you see you’re going to struggle to pay a bill, reach out to those you owe it to. You may be able to negotiate new terms to pay your debt over a longer period, so that your monthly payment is reduced.

Or you could consolidate different loans into a single loan that’s easier to manage. If you do this as soon as you know there’s a problem, you may be able to avoid missing that payment or debit order, and the resulting damage to your credit record.

If you have any court judgments for non-payment, then taking care of these is your first priority. Because if you don’t do this, it will always reflect on your credit record.

Here’s a pro tip: you can improve your credit score by keeping your accounts up to date and using less than half of the credit you have available.

Play the long game with your credit

Managing accounts with stores or creditors for a longer time – 1 year and longer – also helps to improve your credit score. A longer history of on-time payments suggests you’re more dependable.

Be careful of making too many applications for accounts or credit, though. This could be a sign of someone taking on a lot of debt that could be difficult to manage down the line, so some rating agencies will lower your score as a result.

Pay off your accounts

While there are no shortcuts to improving your credit score, you can speed up the process by settling all your outstanding accounts – even those like store or credit cards that you could still pay off in several months of instalments.

Remember, court judgements will remain on your credit record for as long as 5 years. Having this on your record doesn’t mean you won’t get any credit, but some lenders might believe you’re a higher-risk client. If you are given credit, the perceived risk could make your interest higher.

A good credit record will make your life much simpler, and allow you to use credit wisely so that it adds value, not stress, to your life.