What it means to have a CCJ against you
County Court Judgments (CCJs) are an Order by a Court saying that you do have a debt and you must repay that debt and how much you should pay, usually monthly. That amount can be agreed between you and your creditor or a payment fixed by the court. A Court Order is legally binding and failure to comply with it is technically a criminal offence. If you have at least one CCJ and owe money (less than £5,000 in total) to more than one creditor (the people or company you owe money to) the court can combine your debts and make an 'administration order' to make a single payment every month to be shared by all your creditors. There is a cost to obtaining an Administration Order and a service fee for administering the arrangement. For further information you should consult HM Court Service (HMCS) or ask advice from bodies such as the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).
Wiping the slate clean
When you first get the letter from the County Court telling you that someone is making a claim against you, there is an option to pay the full amount in full within 28 days. If you do this, then judgment is cancelled and it will not appear on your credit file and there will be no adverse record at all. If you couldn’t afford to pay the debt in full at the time, but have since paid it off completely, you can apply to the County Court for something called a “Certificate of Satisfaction” for which you have to pay a court fee. The debt will then be marked as “Satisfied” on your credit file but will remain there for six calendar years from the date of the original judgment order. You can contact the Credit Reference Agencies after six years and ask them to remove the satisfied CCJ entries from your credit records.
Checking your records for CCJ information
The significance of CCJs, even if they are marked as “Satisfied”, for many lenders lies in the fact that they suggest you’ve had pretty severe problems in the past with managing your debt and borrowing. Getting control of your finances will help to avoid these issues in future and it’s worth periodically checking your own Credit Report using Internet-based services like Credit Expert to make sure that the information concerning CCJs is accurate and up to date. CCJs are not good to have, but if you have paid them off and they are “Satisfied” that looks much better than having amounts unpaid and outstanding. If you don’t have email or access to a computer, you can write to the Credit Reference Agency which must reply to you in seven working days. If the information is wrong you can demand that it is changed or removed (see How to Check Credit Score: A Guide for more details).
Specialist lenders could help
There’s probably not much point in approaching the “regular” card providers as they will almost certainly turn you down (and that rejection will go down on your credit file). Instead, approach some of the companies that specialise in the provision of “bad credit credit cards”. These providers will still carry out a credit check, but they tend to take an individual’s circumstances into account and are willing to consider people with a poor credit rating, especially if you have satisfied CCJs on file. Nothing is guaranteed with these providers. If it’s less than six months from the date you contact them since the original judgment order was made or some CCJs remain unsatisfied, there’s not much chance of a successful application. If it’s six months or more after the original judgment order was made and your credit history has been satisfactory, it’s possible that they may be able to help.
Although interest rates on these “bad risk” credit cards are higher than usual and credit limits tend to be lower, approaching these specialist lenders is a far better option than risking rejection from mainstream credit card providers. These cards can also help you to build your credit rating back up over time by demonstrating that you can manage credit successfully.↗
Prepaid credit cards
The other option for people with CCJs on file is a Prepaid Credit Card. There’s no need for a credit check as they do not have a line of credit to tempt you to overspend. In that sense, they are not really “credit cards” at all, since it’s your own money you are spending, and are more like a bank account “cash card”. Their biggest advantage is the fact that it’s impossible for the card to go over limit. Prepaid credit cards offer the security, flexibility and convenience of a credit card, especially if you are making purchases on the Internet, without the worries of debt or overspending.