How to improve your credit score

Find out your credit score and pick up some tips if you're looking to improve it.

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Improving your credit score

Improving your credit score doesn't happen overnight, but there are a bunch of actions you can take right now to give your score a bit of a boost in the future. Start with paying your bills on time, lower your limits on any credit cards and make frequent payments to existing loans. Rest assured, we'll guide you through these actions in this article.

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First things first, how do you build credit?

In order to improve your credit score it's key to understand how credit builds, as these are some of the factors that will influence your score.

Simply put, credit is when you owe money. Having no credit history is not necessarily a good thing. However, not all credit is positive and not all credit is negative.

There are different types of credit, including:

  • Loans: personal and home
  • Credit cards
  • Buy now, pay later services (like Afterpay)
  • Rent to buy (for example, for a laptop, television or fridge)
  • Interest-free deals
  • Payday loans
  • Mobile phone plans
  • Internet, electricity, gas, water services

When you apply for credit, including signing a mobile phone contract or agreeing to a contract with an electricity company, this goes on your credit report and becomes part of your credit history.

Once you have agreed to repay credit, you have an obligation to pay back the money you owe under the contract terms. It's important to pay on time, too. If you don't, there could be late fees, and this could show up on your credit report and negatively affect your credit score if it's really late.

Everyone has to start somewhere. If you think you have a credit history already, you can check it using the free Finder app.

How can I improve my credit score?

If your credit score is low, there are plenty of steps to follow to improve it and get your credit history back in shape:


1. Pay your bills on time

Making sure you pay all your bills on time each and every time will contribute to a record of punctual payments. This can boost your credit score, particularly with "positive" credit reporting. While you can't undo past mistakes, it will show you're on the right track. Just make sure the bills you're paying are under your own name, so it shows up on your own report.

You could even consider paying your bills and credit card debts early each month. It lowers your debt-to-credit ratio and makes you look more dependable to lenders. However, paying off any personal loans or mortgages earlier doesn't actually help your credit score. The rules and regulations around credit reporting mean that your balance won't be shared with credit reporting bodies, so they won't know if you've made payments early.

If you realise you've accidentally missed a payment, call the creditor immediately to organise a way to pay. You could set up direct debits on your payday to ensure you never forget.


2. Make frequent payments to existing loans

Consider paying small and more frequent payments throughout the month to reduce the debt quicker. You could also pay a little bit more with your monthly payment to have the same effect.

It shows you can plan, take control of finances and be responsible, plus your outstanding balance will be reduced.


3. Fix credit report mistakes

If you've found any incorrect listings in your report, contact your creditor or the credit reporting bureau that you ordered your report through to have them removed. If it is a mistake, they'll then change it with the credit reporting body, who will adjust it on your report. This could significantly improve your overall score. By carefully checking each entry against your own records you can ensure your report accurately reflects your history.

Occasionally mistakes can happen if your repayments weren't accurately recorded by a bank or lender, when you are mistakenly credited for a family member's history, or potentially in a case of identity theft.


4. Apply for new credit only when necessary

Try not to apply for new credit more than once every three months. Whenever you apply for new credit it will show up on your credit report, and it's known as a "hard enquiry". One hard enquiry isn't concerning, but if many are made in a short period then this could reduce your credit score. A lender might perceive too many applications as a sign you're desperate for credit, or careless with money.


5. Keep credit cards if you're paying them down

If you have a credit card that you consistently and reliably can repay, there's nothing wrong with keeping it to build on your good credit and show lenders you can be trusted. Paying it off each month shows you are responsible and gives banks and lenders a clear history to draw on.


6. Lower the limits on your credit cards

If you have a card with a high limit that you never get close to hitting, consider lowering the limit. This will lessen your risk of racking up debt and will be a positive action on your credit report to impress lenders. It's a good idea to keep a good gap between your credit limit and how much you actually use.

By ensuring your debts stay down, your credit score will gradually improve, too.


7. Demonstrate stability

Where possible, try not to move house or job too much as lenders want evidence that you're a stable person. They want to know you can be relied upon and sticking to your current residence and workplace is one way this can be displayed.

Is there a quick way to improve my credit score?

In short, there's no super-quick fix for your credit score – repairing a low credit takes time. But it's not impossible.

Don't rely on any credit repair companies that promise to have black marks removed from your report as quick-fix efforts are most likely to backfire. Advice that claims to instantly fix your credit history should not be trusted.

The best thing to do is follow the steps above and be consistent over time. You could be surprised at how quickly your score improves after a few tweaks to your financial behaviour. Be patient, disciplined, and keep checking your score to stay on track. The Finder app can help you stay on track: we'll update your score regularly each month and let you know if anything changes.

What to avoid if you're working on your credit score

When you're actively working on your credit rating, make sure you don't fall into some of the common booby traps that would have contributed to your poor score in the first place.

Here are a few things to avoid when you're trying to boost your credit score.

  • Don't apply often for a lot of new loans or credit cards. These show up in your credit report and you risk being rejected, which reflects badly in your score.
  • Avoid making late payments on your credit card or mortgage. A missed payment is if it's more than 14 days late. It could be recorded on your report for up to two years.
  • Avoid paying bills late. Payments of $150 or more that are overdue by 60 days or more remain on your report as a default for two years.
  • Don't cancel your credit card. It's tempting to cancel a card as soon as you pay it off but keeping a card without building on debt can reflect well.
  • Steer clear of payday loans. Credit reporting bodies usually look at the type of providers you've applied for credit with and payday lenders have a different level of risk than a bank. These loans also come with large fees and could make it trickier to pay back.
  • Don't forget to change your personal details. When you move house or change phone numbers, let any accounts you have know so they can re-direct bills. You want to avoid missing a payment and having it appear as a credit infringement or overdue debt.
  • Don't forget to keep on top of your score. Don't be in the dark about your finances. Keep up to date with where you're at and check your score regularly – the Finder app is a great help, sending you notifications when something changes!

If you feel you need a little more help to get on top of your score, consider speaking with a professional financial counsellor. Some financial advice could help you get back on the right track financially and your credit score could be improved as a result.

And if you don't yet have your credit score, you can receive it through the free Finder app – and you can keep up to date with your score as it changes. By seeing this monthly, you'll stay committed to a new financial you.

Dig in deeper with our credit score guides

More guides on Finder

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150 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    GEOFFREYOctober 4, 2019

    How long does a credit card application stay on you report?

      Default Gravatar
      AshOctober 4, 2019

      Hi Geoffrey,

      Thanks for contacting Finder.

      Credit enquiries which are applications for credit card, loan or any credit assistance will stay on your report for up to 5 years. You may read this page to know more about the listings on your credit report and for how long with they stay there.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Ash

    Default Gravatar
    GeorgeSeptember 5, 2019

    Hi, I have checked my credit history and it’s too bad. I got one negative off Vodafone bills of $800 approximately. I paid that amount before 6 months ago. And it also shows many credit cards and personal loans applied. I don’t have any deft to pay but still my credit history is too bad. Could you please suggest me how do I follow and the procedures to make my credit history excellent.

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiSeptember 6, 2019

      Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch! Sorry to hear about your credit score. It’s helpful to know that all credit accounts even if paid off, closed or not or stays on your file for a certain amount of time until it’s erased. You may refer to this page to see how long listings stays on your credit report. Generally, repairing or improving your credit score isn’t a quick and easy process. It may take a significant amount of time and require a long period of financial responsibility on your part.

      You may find useful tips to make your credit score better on this page.

      Hope this helps and feel free to reach out to us again for further assistance.

      Best,
      Nikki

    Default Gravatar
    AaronApril 29, 2019

    Hi! I’m wondering how badly would voluntary surrendering a vehicle on a loan affect my credit score rating. Can you repair the credit score rating once it’s been damaged by surrendering on the loan?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaMay 1, 2019Staff

      Hi Aaron,

      Thanks for getting in touch with Finder. I hope all is well with you. 😃

      Regarding your question, there’s no doubt that defaulting on your car loan or stopping payment would cause a dip in your credit score. How bad it is, I can’t tell for sure. However, the fact that you have a car loan default on your credit report would mean that you will have a hard time applying for any type of loan in the future.

      Defaults may stay on your credit file for up to five years. If it is a legitimate record, then you won’t be able to remove that from your file directly. You need to wait for it to be removed.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

    Default Gravatar
    StevenApril 4, 2019

    Hey. I’ve been trying for a few years now to improve my credit. I have no defaults but credit inquiries dating back 5 years and I keep making the mistake of applying for low interest cards that pop up and would save me money. However denied instantly. My credit was around 690 now dropped back to around 650.
    I’m never late for my repayments and have a $30k personal loan active and a $7500 CC. Both have around 27k and $500 owing.
    Can you give any tips on how I could improve either my finances or credit score.

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiApril 5, 2019

      Hi Steven,

      Thanks for reaching out! I understand it’s quite challenging to have a lower credit score. Your credit score is not the only factor that a bank reviews when applying – there are other things that goes through an application and though we don’t have any idea how the bank assessed your application – here is a page that may have influenced it. Oftentimes, they look at your payables on a monthly basis and if you can make payments timely so if you have a loan and another credit card with a high limit – that influences their decision to approve you or not. Hope this helps!

      Best,
      Nikki

    Default Gravatar
    JoanneMarch 29, 2019

    Who do I call to request something removed or added to my credit score please

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiMarch 30, 2019

      Hi Joanne,

      Thanks for getting in touch! There are ways to improve your credit position through credit repair. You can do this yourself or through a credit repair company and you can read your options by visiting this page.

      Hope this was helpful. Don’t hesitate to message us back if you have more questions.

      Best,
      Nikki

    Default Gravatar
    neededMarch 21, 2019

    I have no Australian ID. How can I get a credit score?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaMarch 21, 2019Staff

      Hi Tiger,

      Thanks for getting in touch with Finder. I hope all is well with you. 😃

      When it comes to getting a credit score, it is important to identify formally your identity. Thus, you would need to provide personal information and an Australian ID is among the important documents you need to get a credit score. If you don’t have an Australian ID, you may want to first find a way to get one.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

    Default Gravatar
    SteveMarch 19, 2019

    I would like to fix my credit rating. It is at 107. How do I get it back to 700+?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaMarch 19, 2019Staff

      Hi Steven,

      Thanks for getting in touch with Finder. I’m sorry to hear that you have a low credit score.

      Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to improve your score. The guide above will show you how to improve your credit score in 5 steps. Aside from these, you need to avoid applying for loans and credit cards for now. This is because frequent applications for credit raise your risk index and lower your credit score.

      Make it a point as well to make repayments on time. Moreover, consider lowering your credit limits and consolidating debts.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

    Default Gravatar
    MaddiMarch 13, 2019

    Hi I was wondering how I can improve my rating,
    I’m only 19 and never had any debt, I moved out last year.
    Would my low rating be because I’ve applied for a few loans or just because I’m too young?
    How can I improve it?

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiMarch 14, 2019

      Hi Maddi,

      Thanks for reaching out and it’s nice to know that you are looking to improve your credit score. The information above shows how you can improve your credit score. It’s helpful to know that applying/inquiring with lenders shows in your report as well so it’s important to do some thorough research before actually contacting the lender. You can see on this page what influences the increase or decrease of your score. Hope this helps!

      Best,
      Nikki

    Default Gravatar
    JulieFebruary 27, 2019

    I have a debt collector chasing me for a personal loan debt from over 10yrs ago, I cannot pay and have been contemplating Bankruptcy open to suggestions

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JohnFebruary 28, 2019Staff

      Hi Julie,

      Thank you for reaching out to Finder.

      Though the debt is 10 years old already, debt collection companies would still be able to contact you to have a settlement or a repayment plan set up to cover the debt. You may learn more about this by clicking this link to be routed to our page on “The debt collection process”. Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Reggie

    Default Gravatar
    BrendaFebruary 26, 2019

    If a have a “very good” score of 710, how do I make it excellent? I have never missed it or defaulted any payments etc.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniMarch 1, 2019Staff

      Hi Brenda,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      You’re currently at the right page to learn some tips on how to improve your credit score.

      Please note that your credit score is calculated using a range of information from your credit report like the age of your credit file. If your credit file has been recently created you may be seen as more of a risk than someone with a longer-standing credit file. However, this depends on the type of listings on your file.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

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