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If your credit score is less than ideal, then managing your life and finances can be difficult. While the implications of a poor credit score were once only felt in a financial sense, the modern world has turned to credit scores when considering applications for a variety of other services too. For example, you may find that your application for a smartphone contract is declined if you have a poor credit score, and you may even struggle to rent a property if your file is marked by previous defaults.
Unfortunately, if you are living with a poor credit score, there is relatively little you can do to resolve the issue. There are ways and means of improving your score – such as ensuring you are on the electoral roll – but these are rather limited; they cannot remove existing issues that are keeping your score low. Given that it can take up to six years for a default or mark to be removed from your credit file, you may well find yourself struggling with this issue continually, constantly being denied credit and services as a result.
If you are struggling to live a normal life with a poor credit score, you may be heartened to know that there are a few important facts to keep in mind to make this experience as simple as possible.
1 – Look to smaller companies when seeking financial products
If your credit score is less-than-perfect, it can often feel like much of the world is shuttered against you. You can’t obtain approval for credit cards, loans, mobile phone contracts, or even a new broadband provider, which can leave you feeling vulnerable and restricted.
However, it is important to note that there are plenty of financial products that are specifically designed for people in your situation. You will usually need to turn away from well-known financial institutions for these products – high street banks, for example, tend to have excessively high credit score requirements. However, smaller lenders are able to offer financial products without any form of credit check; so it’s well worth taking the time to do your research and find out more about loans and cards that may be suitable for your financial situation.
2 – You should make as few applications for credit as possible
If you are applying for credit, it is more likely that you will be turned down if you have a poor credit score – this is a well-known fact. This means that you may often have no choice but to make numerous applications to obtain the funds or services you need.
However, a quirk of the credit scoring system means that repeated applications can actually cause more harm to your credit file. Of course, this feels punitive; you have to make a number of applications due to a poor credit score, but doing so makes your credit score worse – so you can feel caught in a loop. Unfortunately, this is just how the system operates: numerous applications are often seen as a sign of desperation, which in turn lowers your credit score all the more. It may feel unfair, but it is, unfortunately, part and parcel of how scores are calculated.
It is therefore important to space applications for products or services that will run a credit check; keep these applications at least three months apart, though six months is preferable if possible. To do this, you will need to research a company thoroughly prior to making an application, potentially even calling to ask for the possibility of approval with your credit score. The fewer rejections you have, the fewer applications you will need to make – and the happier your credit score will be.
In addition, in order to ensure that your credit file is searched as infrequently as possible, you will want to keep the next point in mind also…
3 – Ask every company if they will have to run a credit check before you apply
We have discussed that it is possible to obtain financial products without a credit check, and the same also applies to services providers.
With services such as broadband and utility contracts, credit checks will be sprung on you as part of the application process. You may find yourself calling, going through the process of providing your details, discussing the services you wish to obtain, and then the advisor will list the terms and conditions – and this can be the first point at which you hear that a credit check is necessary. As you have already gone through so much of the process, it’s often tempting to just agree and hope for the best – but, as we have discussed, too many credit checks can actually harm your credit score further, so agreeing without researching the likelihood of a pass is inadvisable.
Rather than go through a long process only to find out at a later point that a credit check is required, ask if a credit check is required right at the start of the conversation. If the answer is no, then you can proceed. If the answer is yes, you can either end the call to give you time to conduct further research, or ask for further advice regarding the threshold of acceptance.
Living with a poor credit score can be incredibly difficult, restrictive, and – given the degree of research required when making applications – even time-consuming. However, it can be helpful to keep in mind the fact that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and the situation will not last forever. Eventually, the history that is negatively affecting your credit score will expire, and you will be able to forge a new future without the limitations a poor credit score can cause.
In the meantime, focus on the three key tips above, set a strict budget to manage your finances, and be as cautious as possible when considering applications for financial products or services. Credit scores tend to need nurturing; if you know yours is under the weather, then treat it with care.