27 September 2023

What to look out for when building a credit score

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Financy* lists the habits that affect people’s credit score, it explains how to correct the bad ones and make the most of the good ones.

Does having multiple credit cards have a negative impact on your credit score?

While we’ve all heard of a credit score — and all have one — there’s a lot of confusion around what actually affects our credit rating.

According to a recent study by digital lender SocietyOne, Australians have divided opinions over what improves or harms our credit score.

Since a good credit rating is the key to securing credit cards, personal loans and home loans, it’s definitely worth knowing the difference. Luckily, once you bust the myths and misconceptions about what affects credit scores, it’s not as complicated as you might think.

Habits and behaviours that can positively affect your score

  • Credit diversity.
    Although 53 per cent of women believe that having more than one credit card will negatively affect their credit score, the truth is often quite the opposite.
    Having different types of credit accounts, like credit cards, mortgages and personal loans, can boost your credit score as it shows lenders that you’re able to manage different types of repayments at the same time.
    It also provides them with more information on your finances, allowing them to get a better idea of your assets and your ability to keep on top of your bills.
  • Repayment history.
    One of the most important ways to improve your credit rating is by consistently paying on time.
    Even one missed payment can have a big impact.
    Despite the importance of paying on time, the younger generation believe it’s less of an issue.
    Nine in 10 baby boomers believe that making repayments on time will improve your credit score (87 per cent) compared to only two-thirds of Millennials (65 per cent), according to research by SocietyOne.
  • Good debt.
    As well as credit diversity, some types of loans, such as home loans, business loans and student loans, can bring your score up by showing that you’re a responsible borrower.
  • Apply for credit only when you need it.
    Don’t make the mistake of submitting too many applications at once.
    It can make lenders suspicious and worried that you’re irresponsible with credit.
  • Credit history length.
    So long as you continue to make the repayments on time, the length of time you hold credit accounts for can positively impact your rating.
    Ordinarily, the longer your credit history, the better your credit score will be.

Habits and behaviours that can negatively affect your score

  • Paying your bills late.
    If you forgot to pay a credit bill — even just the once — it can show up on your credit rating and stay there for two years.
  • Court judgments.
    This can negatively affect your credit score because you’re considered an increased risk. Court judgments generally stay on your credit file for up to five years.
  • Filing for bankruptcy.
    If you become bankrupt, your credit score will drop and you’ll have to wait between two and five years until it’s no longer on your credit file.
  • Making too many credit enquiries.
    As already alluded to, applying for credit multiple times over a short space of time is not a good idea if you don’t want your credit rating to go down. It makes it look like you’re in need of cash and can’t handle your finances.

*Financy creates and publishes a variety of content on women’s money matters.

This article first appeared at financy.com.au

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