There's a lot of competition out there for your custom, not just from shops and online retailers, but also for financial and credit deals such as credit cards and mortgages. So how can you make yourself as attractive as possible to lenders, in order not to rule yourself out of being accepted for the best deals?
Here are seven tips that could help you position yourself to get the financial deals you're looking for:
1. Check your credit rating before you apply for new credit, as this can give you the best chance of knowing whether or not you'd get accepted -and get into the habit of reviewing your Experian credit report on a regular basis. Make sure everything is accurate and up to date, and query anything that isn't. Even small details like the way your name and address is recorded could have a significant impact.
2. Try not to take on more than you can afford. If you take out a new card or a new loan, do try and stay within the agreed credit limits - though using some credit is better than none at all, as without a track record of managing credit, lenders may not be able to assess you fully.
3. Make sure you always make your repayments on time, ideally paying more than the minimum off your credit cards each month if you are able to. One good reason is because missed or late payments stay on your credit report for at least six years, and it can have a big impact on whether lenders will accept you or not. If you can't make the minimum payment, speak to your lender as soon as possible.
4. Try to avoid bunching up too many applications for credit close together even if it's just to see if you could get one. Each application is likely to cause the lender to check your credit report and leave a credit application search footprint, which can alarm lenders into thinking you're in financial trouble if they see many of these.
Trial available to new members only. Monthly fee applies after 30-day trial ends. Trial period starts on registration further ID verification may be required to access full service, which may take up to five days.
5. Check what financial links to other people are on your credit report, and ask for any outdated links to be broken for example an ex-partner you shared accounts with, or even your son or daughter whose loan you guaranteed. If you don't do this you could find that any credit applications you make in the future may be affected by your ex-partner's financial situation.
6. Get registered to vote at your current address, as lenders use the electoral register to help confirm who you are and where you live. Showing you're settled in one place can also be a factor in making you look reliable to them.
7. Finally, watch out for unfamiliar or suspicious entries in your credit report as that could indicate identity fraud. Because it lists your credit accounts and what you owe, you can spot applications and spending that are nothing to do with you.
Once you're confident that your credit is in good shape, you can apply for the financial services you need. If you are looking for a personal loan, you can compare the best loan rates through the Save section of the Money Dashboard website. Remember to keep on top of repayments, and use Money Dashboard budgeting software to keep your spending in check.
Experian Credit Expert: A monthly fee of £14.99 applies after your free trial. You may cancel during your 30-day free trial without charge. New customers only. Free trial period starts on registration - further ID verification may be required to access full service which may take up to 5 days.