Being turned down for credit can often seem like a personal affront especially if you have a relatively inoffensive financial past. However, there are many reasons why applications for credit can be declined and it may not just be because of a 'black mark' on your file.
If you're having difficult getting credit approved, rather than continuing to apply for different financial products you should take a step back and examine the reasons why your applications may have been rejected. Addressing any issues you find will help to improve your credit rating and your eligibility for market leading offers. We explain how to improve your credit rating in 10 simple steps.
Step 1 - Check your report
Whenever you make an application for a new financial product the lender will obtain a credit report detailing your financial history from at least one of three UK based credit reference agencies (Experian, Equifax and Callcredit). As the decision to accept or reject you will be largely based on this report it is essential that the information contained within is detailed correctly. You can check your credit report at each of the three agencies so that any mistakes or fraudulent applications are identified and corrected as soon as possible.
Read our article How to Check your Credit Report for more information.
Step 2 - Amend any errors
If you do find any inaccurate information on your credit report its important to get it amended as soon as possible as it could be blighting your credit score and making it harder for you to get the financial products you want. To do this you'll need to contact the credit reference agency in question and inform them of the error. They will then mark the disputed information as such and take steps to resolve the issue.
Step 3 - Start with the basics
If you're relatively new to credit, financial providers have very little information to base your creditworthiness on and so may turn you down simply because they have no idea whether you're going to be a safe bet or just default at the first hurdle.
If you're having difficulty being accepted for 'best buy' products you could try applying for a 'credit building' card such as these; they tend to charge high rates of interest but are much more flexible about who they will lend to. By spending a little each month on a card of this type and repaying the balance in full and on time, you will begin to build a much stronger credit history. After 6 months to a year of making payments in this way you should be in a much better position to apply for market leading offers.
Read our article How To Get Your First Credit Card for more information on applying for your first credit card.
Step 4 - Say goodbye to credit overload
If you already have a number of credit cards, regularly make payments on time but have been turned down for a new application it may well be that you simply have access to too much credit in relation to your means to repay. By cancelling some of your unused cards (do this officially by contacting the card provider and requesting card cancellation) you may increase your chances of being accepted for new credit.
Step 5 - Register to vote
It is very unlikely that you'll be granted new credit if you're not on the electoral roll as this is the primary source of information lenders use to verify your address. If you are unsure as to whether you are listed you should contact your local council office who will be able to advise you where you can access the relevant records and will also provide you with a registration form if you need one. Local records tend to be updated monthly so check that your name appears before making a new application.
Step 6 - Make yourself look 'stable'
Evidence of stability in your life makes providers more confident about lending to you. In practical terms this means applying for credit before you move house, change job, go on maternity leave or make any other drastic alteration in your way of living. Home owners are seen as more stable than those renting or living with their parents and employed individuals more than the self employed. On the same thread, detailing landline contact numbers on your application form looks more 'stable' than mobile numbers as it fixes you to an address.
Step 7 - Bide your time
Each time you apply for credit, a search is performed and recorded as part of your financial history. This is seen by prospective providers each time you make a new application and not only relates to applications for credit cards and loans but also for pay monthly schemes for car insurance, mobile phones and the like.
Lots of applications in a short space of time can give the impression that you're desperate for money and will make lenders wary about extending credit to you. For this reason it's important to space out your applications - one or two every couple of months should be fine. In particular if you have been declined credit you should avoid applying for a different financial product straight away as this can lead you into a downwards rejection spiral whereby you are rejected simply because you have been consistently rejected before.
Step 8 - Be independent
Your credit report links you financially to anyone you have shared credit with in the past. Potentially, this could adversely affect your credit score as if they are deemed 'financially unreliable' lenders may tar you with the same brush. The best way to overcome this issue is firstly to avoid sharing new credit with anyone who has less than a 'rosy' credit history, or, if you have shared credit in the past but the agreement no longer stands (be it current account, credit card or mortgage) ask for a note to be added to your report asserting your independence.
Step 9 - Make payments on time
Late or defaulted payments can do real damage to your credit rating so it is really important to be on time with the minimum repayments of any credit agreements you have. If you are struggling to meet your minimum repayments the best thing you can do is to contact your lender; they may be able to change your schedule of repayments to spread out the financial burden and make being on time more manageable. While a history of late or missed repayments will be detailed on your credit report, several months of making payments on time will help to reduce the impact.
Step 10 - Check again
Your credit report is continually changing based on the way you manage your finances. By checking these reports at least once every 12 months you'll know where you stand financially and will be in the best position to apply for the financial products you're likely to get accepted for.