Why is credit important?
Even if you've never had problems with debt, you might still get refused for credit. If you've never had any kind of credit arrangement, be that a loan, credit card, or even a mobile phone contract, you're essentially "invisible" to lenders, and a blank credit history can be just as unattractive as one filled with missed payments.
This is because credit reference agencies use your credit history, alongside a number of other factors, to give you a credit score. Lenders then use this score to get an idea of how well you manage money and repay what you owe – if you don't have a credit history, then lenders have no way of knowing whether you’re bad with money, or even a fraudster.
With no point of reference, most lenders will unlikely be prepared to take a risk and will turn you down.
How do I build up a credit history?
It can take several months, or even years, to build a good credit score, so you may want to keep a record of your financial habits.
When building your credit profile, it is good practice to demonstrate that you are able to meet your financial commitments on time. This means never defaulting on any mortgage or rent payments, and paying any bills, student loans, and mobile phone contracts on time.
As well as making sure you can meet all your financial commitments, there are several other things you can do to make yourself more attractive to lenders, including:
- Pay all your bills on time – meeting mortgage, rent, utilities, car finance, store cards, and phone contract payments on time illustrates that you can manage your money.
- Make sure you're registered on the electoral roll – this provides proof of identity, which helps allay any fears of fraud.
- Be conscious of changing jobs or your address – although this can’t always be helped, and might not affect your credit score directly, lenders do tend to ask questions about your employment and living situation. If you have a history of moving around a lot and don't maintain a long-term job, you may seem like a riskier proposition.
- Don’t make multiple credit applications – Multiple applications, especially rejected ones, can put a big dent in your credit score.
- Don’t max out any existing credit – If you do have any other credit lines, such as store cards or an overdraft, being close to the limit on these can also have an adverse effect on your credit score.
Is it better to have bad credit than no credit?
Whether you have no credit or bad credit, either one can have a negative impact on how a lender is willing to deal with you. In both cases, you may need to look for other solutions to build your credit. Some lenders such as Vanquis Bank offer credit builder cards that can be used to build and improve your credit rating.
Once you have bad credit, it may take some time to repair it. If you are looking for help managing your financial problems, you may wish to speak to a professional financial advisor.
In cases where you may have a reliable source of income, having no credit history may be seen as a risk by lenders. If left unchecked, it can result in:
- Trouble finding a place of residence
- Higher utility deposits
- Limited funding in emergency situations
- Higher interest rates on loans
Although having no financial history could also see you struggle to get credit, the good news is that you won’t have misused credit in the past and can essentially start with a clean slate. Taking the steps outlined above means you should be able to steadily build up a good credit score.
How do I get my first credit card with no credit?
If you’ve got no credit history, there are still ways in which you can start to build up a credit score.
When applying for your first credit card, it’s worth considering a credit card for bad credit, which can be used as a way to build your credit score. If you’re a student, it might be worth getting a head start and building your credit score before you enter the world of work, in which case a credit card for student use is worth considering.
If you have never had to use credit before and are unsure which card you may be eligible for, you may want to use our eligibility checker.
Can a student get a credit card?
Student credit cards are available, and are designed for full-time college and university students who don’t yet have the credit score and income to be approved for a standard credit card.
How do student credit cards work?
Credit cards for students generally have a credit limit of between £250 and £1,000. This is a lower credit limit than standard credit cards, to help ensure any debt built up is manageable.
As with standard credit cards, student credit cards allow you to spend up to a pre-arranged credit limit. If you don’t pay the balance off in full, you’ll be charged a monthly rate of interest, which will mean paying off the full balance will take longer.
If you miss any monthly payments, this can have an adverse effect on your credit history.
How to get a student credit card
If you’re interested in applying for a student credit card, check your eligibility online to see if you’re applicable for a Vanquis Bank credit card. We may be able to give you a decision within 60 seconds, so you can start building your credit today.
What is adverse credit history?
Adverse credit describes anyone who has a less-than-perfect record of repaying credit commitments, and is associated with terms like bad credit and poor credit. If you have an adverse credit history, this will usually be because you have missed credit card, loan or mortgage repayments and this will affect your ability to take out finance.
If you default on repayments and the money has to be recovered by a debt collection agency or a County Court Judgement, this information can remain on your credit file for up to six years from the date of account closure, and will continue to have a negative impact. This impact will become less significant over time, as long as you keep up with your current repayments, and will be automatically removed after six years.
How do I check my credit history?
There are three main credit referencing agencies in the UK – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – each of which compile information on how well you manage credit. You can usually get a copy of your credit report through the credit reference agency's website for a small fee.
It’s worth noting that different lenders use different credit agencies to check your eligibility so, before you apply for credit, it’s worth finding out which agency your chosen lender uses and getting a copy of your credit report to see how you measure up.
Alternatively, you could sign up to a free credit-checking service such as Experian or Noddle, or take an eligibility check with your lender before you apply.
What is an eligibility check?
An eligibility check is a tool offered by lenders to help you find out if one of their credit cards is suitable for you, usually without impacting your credit score.
Normally, when you apply for a credit card, your lender will carry out a ‘hard credit search’, which is flagged with the credit referencing agencies and will have an impact on your credit score. But if you use an eligibility checker, this will carry out a ‘soft credit search’ to give you an initial decision without leaving any trace of a search on your credit file.
The Vanquis eligibility checker is a free tool that will give you an instant initial decision, without impacting your credit score. Find out more by checking out our credit card eligibility tool.
How to apply
A Vanquis credit card could be the ideal choice if you’re looking to improve your credit rating, largely because we can help people who have been turned down for credit elsewhere. Our credit cards for bad credit provide a responsible and reliable financial service that offers a sensible way to stay in control of your money. To find out if you could join the 4 million* people we’ve already accepted, go to www.vanquis.co.uk
*correct as of August 2019