5 tips to improve your credit score

5 tips to improve your credit score

It’s not a number you may think about often, but your credit score defines your creditworthiness to a lender.

In other words, reputable lenders evaluate how likely you are able to pay back a loan based on your past financial conduct. Generally, big banks have stricter criteria when assessing loan applications, especially in slower economic times.

The lower your credit score, the more likely a lender may decline you, as they may believe you could have trouble paying off a loan. Lender rejections contribute to a lower credit score, making it difficult for some to escape the cycle of weak creditworthiness.

The higher your credit score, the higher your chances of getting approved for a loan. Not only that, those with stronger credit records may be able to save money in the long run as reliable borrowers are coveted by reputable lenders.

If you don’t know what your credit score is, it might be a good idea to find out, as one day you may find yourself urgently needing to improve your rating for a loan application.

Here are some tips to give your credit score a boost and ensure your future loan applications are rock solid.

  1. Check your credit report – As your credit score is based on the information in your credit report, it’s worthwhile to understand it. Look through and make sense of how each listing might have contributed to your credit rating. There’s also the chance that errors have been made by either a lender or the credit reporting agency. If that’s the case, get in touch with the relevant body and request an amendment.
  2. Don’t make too many loan applications – Refrain from making multiple loan applications in a short span of time. Every loan application you make and every rejection you receive will appear on your credit history. These listings can make you look unreliable to future lenders.
  3. Work on your existing debts – Being debt-free or having fewer debts is a plus to lenders when assessing loan applications. If you’re in a position to, try getting rid of any existing debts you have. You can do this by making contributions on top of your minimum repayments. Keep in mind some lenders may charge fees when you make extra repayments.
  4. Build your savings – Another thing that will give lenders a positive impression is having a nice stash of cash in the bank. As lenders usually need to see your bank statements from the past three months, a track record of consistent savings will pay off when you apply for a loan.
  5. Don’t make late payments – You might think you’re safe by not missing any payments, but late payments may still weaken your credit score. If being tardy can cost you money in the long run, it could be worth your time to be punctual with your mortgage repayments, rent, credit cards and utility bills.

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Fact Checked -

This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Alex Ritchie before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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Learn more about personal loans

What is a credit rating/score?

Your credit rating or credit score is a number that summarises how credit-worthy you are based on your credit history.

The lower your score, the more likely you are to be denied a loan or forced to pay a higher interest rate.

Does refinancing a personal loan hurt your credit score?

Personal loan refinancing means taking out a new loan with more desirable terms in order to access a more competitive interest rate, longer loan term, better features, or even to consolidate debts.

In some situations, refinancing a personal loan can improve your credit score, while in others, it may have a negative impact. If you refinance multiple loans by consolidating these into one loan, it could improve your credit score as you’ll have only one outstanding debt liability. Your credit may also improve if you consistently pay the instalments on time.

However, applying to refinance with multiple lenders could negatively affect your credit if your applications are rejected. Also, if you delay or default the repayment, your credit score reduces.

Is it hard to improve your credit score?

It can be hard to improve your credit score, as it usually requires sacrifice and discipline, but hard doesn’t necessarily mean complicated. Some simple ways you can give your credit score a boost include closing extra credit cards, reducing your credit card limit, pay off any loans and make loan repayments on time.

As a general rule, the lower your credit score, the more remedies you can apply and the greater the scope for improvement.

Can students with no credit history get loans?

It is possible for students with no available history of borrowing or managing money to get a personal loan, though it may be more difficult as well as expensive than for borrowers with a good credit history.

Having no credit history means having no credit score. While many lenders may consider having no credit score to be better than having a bad credit score, they may still consider it riskier to lend to an unknown borrower and may charge higher interest rates or fees than to borrowers with good credit scores.

What causes bad credit ratings/scores?

Failing to repay loans and bills will damage your credit score. So will falling behind on your repayments. Your credit score will also suffer if you apply for credit too often or have credit applications rejected.

How can I improve my credit rating/score?

Your credit score will improve if you demonstrate that you’ve become more credit-worthy. You can do that by minimising loan applications, clearing up defaults and paying bills on time.

Another tip is to get the one free credit report you’re entitled to each year – that way, you’ll be able to identify and fix any errors.

If you want to fix an error, the first thing you should do is speak with the credit reporting body, which may take care of the problem or contact credit providers on your behalf.

The next step would be to contact your credit provider. If that doesn’t work, you can refer the matter to the credit provider’s independent dispute resolution scheme, which would be the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).

AFCA provides consumers and small businesses with fair, free and independent dispute resolution for financial complaints.

If that doesn’t work, your final options are to contact the Privacy Commissioner and then the Office of the Information Commissioner.

Which lenders offer bad credit personal loans?

Several dozen lenders offer bad credit personal loans in Australia. These are generally smaller lenders that aren’t household names.

How long does it take to get a $5000 loan?

Depending on the lender, personal loans and medium-amount loans for $5000 can sometimes be approved in under an hour, and give you access to the money the same day. Other loans may take 24 hours or longer to assess your application, and you may not get the money for a few days.

What do I need to get a fast loan?

Most lenders will need to you provide the following information in your application for a fast loan:

  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of residence
  • Proof of income
  • Details of any assets you own (e.g. car, home etc.)
  • Details of any liabilities you owe (other personal loans, credit cards, mortgages etc.)
  • How much you want to borrow
  • Over how long you want to pay it back
  • Purpose of your loan

Are there any interest-free emergency loans?

The No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS) allows low-income borrowers to take out no-interest loans for up to $1500 to purchase essential goods and services.

There are also similar low-interest loan schemes available to borrowers in financial hardship who are having a tough time getting finance approved.

Are there alternatives to $2000 loans?

If you need to borrow $2000 or less, alternatives to getting a personal loan or payday loan include using a credit card or the redraw facility of your home, car or personal loan.

Before you borrow $2000 on a credit card, remember that interest will continue being charged on what you owe until you clear your credit card balance. To minimise your interest, consider prioritising paying off your credit card.

Before you draw down $2000 in extra repayments from your home, car or personal loan using a redraw facility, note that fees and charges may apply, and drawing money from your loan may mean your loan will take longer to repay, costing you more in total interest.

Can I get a self-employed personal loan with bad credit?

It may be much more difficult for a self-employed borrower to successfully apply for a personal loan if they also have bad credit. Many lenders already consider self-employed borrowers to be riskier than those in full-time employment, so some self-employed personal loans require borrowers to have excellent credit.

If you’re a self-employed borrower with a bad credit history, there may still be personal loan options available to you, such as securing your personal loan against a vehicle of equity in a property, though your interest rates may be higher than those of other borrowers. Consider contacting a lender before applying to discuss your options.

Should I get a fixed or variable personal loan?

Fixed personal loans keep your interest rate the same for the full loan term, while interest rates on variable personal loans may be raised or lowered during your loan term.

A fixed rate personal loan keeps your repayments consistent, which can help keep your budgeting consistent. You won't have to worry about higher repayments if your rates were to rise. However, on a fixed loan you’ll also potentially miss out on more affordable repayments if variable rates were to fall.

What is the average interest rate on personal loans for single parents?

Like other types of personal loans, the average interest rate for personal loans for single parents changes regularly, as lenders add, remove, and vary their loan offers. The interest rate you’ll receive may depend on a range of different factors, including your loan amount, loan term, security, income, and credit score.