In this brief blog, we are going to talk about adverse credit history and how it can affect your financial life.
What is adverse credit history?
Adverse credit history is a term used o define credit that isn’t good. adverse credit history essentially means bad credit, this can include bankruptcy, county court judgements, a home repossession, individual voluntary agreements, mortgage defaults, missed credit repayments and mortgage arrears. These are all negative credit markers which will be on your credit file.
Adverse credit history essentially means any bad credit on your credit file but it could also mean those with little or no credit history. You may have little or no credit history if you have just moved to the United Kingdom or maybe you have never had a credit account such as a bank or you have never registered to vote.
In some cases, it’s a catch 24 scenario as those without credit may not be able to get credit or open credit accounts such as bank accounts but they need credit to be able to get credit. There are some Uk companies now addressing this issue. One notable company is Pockit. It is a bank account for those with bad credit or no credit.
Subprime lenders for bad credit
If you have an adverse credit history you will find it hard to get credit products such as personal loans, home improvement loans, credit cards, car finance or mortgages at a desireable APR or at all as credit providers may view you as risky and find it more likely that you will default on any credit agreement.
In fact, most lenders will mention in their policies that they will not lend to people with adverse credit history as those with adverse credit history are statistically more likely to default on a loan, personal loan, car finance or other credit agreements.
There are specialist lenders out there who focus on the adverse credit history market and will be willing to loan to consumers who fit this criterion. These are more commonly known as subprime lenders.
The interest rates they will offer will be substantially higher(These charges help to cover the additional costs of default, and of managing the accounts of those statistically more likely to miss payments) and you may need to use a broker to find these sort of lenders. E.g a bad credit mortgage broker may be able to assist you in finding a mortgage lender willing to lend to you if you have been declared bankrupt or have had a home repossession in the past.
When you have an adverse credit history you will also notice that your credit score will fall due to the adverse credit history you have.
Typically you will lose the below points based on the type of adverse credit history you have
Default – 350
County court judgement- 400
Missed payment- 150
Adverse credit history markers such as the above will stay on your credit file 6 years unless you are able to remove them by contacting the relevant court, credit provider or credit bureau. There are strict guidelines on when and how a negative credit marker which has been put on your credit profile can be removed so you should not ignore any warning letters from lenders or ignore your debts as they can come back to hunt you in the long run.
As the adverse credit history markers on your credit profile get older, they will begin to have less relevance (provided the rest of your credit file is okay) although they may still hold your score down.
Credit providers who perform a manual underwriting when considering a credit application from you may be more likely to offer your credit. Once the six years have passed you should begin to see your credit score rise again, provided you haven’t received more negative markers on your credit profile.
Why you need good credit?
Aside from preventing you from being able to get credit products such as mortgages, loans, credit cards, homeowner loans etc at a desirable rate or get these credit products at all, adverse credit history can also prevent you from renting as most landlords will check your credit report to see your credit score and history. This will give them insight into whether you usually repay your credit obligations and if they can rely on you to pay your rent on time every time.
Some landlords now report your rent to the credit bureaus. This is known as “rent reporting”.
This can help boost your credit score as it shows you have good repayment behaviour. On the other hand, if you miss your rent repayments then this could lead to more adverse credit history and ruin your credit history.
Your landlord will inform you and seek your consent before reporting your rental payment performance data to the credit bureau. Unlike other credit providers who have an obligation to report your credit repayment behaviour, you can opt-out of having your rental payment performance data from being reported if you feel it will do more damage than good.
Check your credit score
If you think you have adverse credit history then you should check your credit file before making any credit applications to avoid being rejected for credit and compounding the issue further.
You can check your credit file to see your credit score and history by signing up with any of the four credit bureaus in the United Kingdom. The four include Crediva, Equifax, Transunion and Experian.
Some of the credit bureaus will charge you to view your credit file, you don’t have to pay any of the credit bureaus to get your credit file you can simply request your statutory credit report (which is a free credit file that each of the four credit bureaus must provide to you once a year, upon request). Your statutory credit report will display any adverse credit history which is on your credit file and you can then investigate the matter further.
It is advisable to sign up to all of the four credit bureaus and get your credit report from all of them as in some cases, they will hold varying data on you. If the data any of the credit bureaus hold on you is an error then you should contact them and ask for it to be changed.
The credit bureau will place a notice of correction on your credit file (this lets any lenders or entities which coma across you during the time the data entry is being investigated know that the specific information on your credit file is being challenged and could be incorrect) and then contact the entity which supplied the data to validate their entry on your credit file.
The credit bureau will have 28 days to come to a resolution and will write to you within this time.
You don’t have to get your credit report from the credit bureau, you can get it from other companies such as CreditKharma UK, clearscore or Checkmyfile. Clearsocreand Credit Kharma UK are free but checkmyfile does charge a fee although there is a free trial period and Checkmyfile does display all credit reports from the four credit bureaus.
Tips on improving your credit score
You can improve your credit score by doing the below things but you should be aware that improving your credit score will take at least a few months.
Open a bank account or credit account
The simplest thing you can do to establish or improve your credit score is to open a bank account or any other credit account.
By opening a bank account you open an account which gets reported to the credit bureaus as an account on your credit report.
The longer you have this account open for the longer you will have a credit history. It usually takes 3 years from you opening an account which gets reported on your credit file before you will have any credit history which can be seen by others.
Opening a bank account also allows you to have an account on your credit file with a verified home address. This means it will be easier for you to access credit products in the future.
A bank account might also be the easiest way to a credit card as banks are more willing to offer credit cards to account holders as they can view your account history and see how credit worthy you are even if you have a low credit score.
Ask your bank for a small overdraft facility
To Build credit you need credit so one of the ways to improve your credit score or build credit is by having an overdraft. You then need to show good behaviour when you have access to this credit.
By asking your bank to give you an overdraft facility you will have a credit account open on your credit file which boosts your credit score.
You will also have the ability to use your available credit, sticking to the 30% maximum credit utilization golden rule per credit account and thereby showing good credit behaviour which should boost your credit score even further. Always repay your overdraft as soon as you can to avoid any fees.
Get a Household Utility in your name
Some utility accounts are now being reported on your credit file and having one in your name is a very good way to improve your credit score. This means that your payment history on your gas, electric and telephone service will affect your credit score.
By getting yourself named as the account holder on these services you can establish and improve your credit score if your bills are paid on time and there are no balances or defaults on the Utility account.
If you live in a shared accommodation be sure to avoid any disputes and get payment for utilities well in advance so as to avoid any of your house mates holding you hostage and ruining your credit file.
Do you live with your parents? Ask them to put your name, date of birth and address on the utility bill. This will open a new account on your credit file and ensure you begin to get credited for the regular payments being made on the account.
If payments are missed on the account this could negatively affect your credit score so you must ensure payments are not missed.
You can also simply get a cheap phone on contract. A £5/month contract will be achievable with little or no credit history as the risk of default is very low and making regular repayments to your phone contract will boost your credit file.
You should avoid applying for more expensive phones with no credit file or score as this could damage your credit score even further even though you don’t have one.
Not all utility providers report your payment history to the credit bureaus so you may want to inquire with the utility provider before opening an account.
Keep your credit utilization below 30%
Your credit utilization is one of the factors that affects your credit score. The golden rule is to use no more than 30% of your available credit. If you are currently using above this then reducing your credit utilization below this limit will help improve your credit score
Pay down your credit card balance & other debts
Credit card balances and credit debts are recorded on your credit file. These balances have a negative impact on your score(especially when your revolving debt is over 30% of your available revolving credit) as well as costing you in interest rate charges and fees.
Paying down your credit card balances, loan balances or any default you have on utility and credit accounts will help improve your credit score.
Paying your credit card balance in full each month
Making only the minimum payment on your credit card means you have an outstanding balance which is recorded on your credit file.This negatively influences your credit file. Paying your credit balance on time full in each month will help improve your credit score
Make your credit repayments on time
Missing credit repayments negatively impacts your credit score. Keeping up with your monthly credit repayments will see your credit score improve gradually.
Making your credit repayments on time will also ensure you avoid negative credit markers such as:
- County court judgments
- Missed repayments
Get on the electoral roll
The easiest way to improve your credit score is to register to vote as this data is recorded on the public register which the credit bureaus check and include in your credit file. This is the first way to prove your identity and by far the easiest.
In the future when you apply for credit or a credit check is done, this will be the basis of their verification method for you and helps make you seem more creditworthy. You should check with your local council here if you are already on the electoral roll and if not you can register to vote here.
If you are not eligible to vote in the UK you will not be able to get on the electoral roll. In this case you can get a similar benefit by submitting a document to either Experian, Equifax or callcredit proving your identity and address. You can then ask them in writing to confirm that they have verified your identity on your credit file
Get a credit builder card
To improve your credit score you could get a credit builder card. Credit Builder cards are similar to secured credit cards as they are targeted towards people with low or no credit scores.
Credit Builder cards do not require security deposits but as with secured credit cards they will have low credit limits and high APRs.
A student credit card will likely be available on the same terms as a credit builder card. The best place to get this might be from your bank as they will be more likely to approve you for this type of card due to already having an idea of your income and expenses.
Store credit cards are usually easy to get approved for too.There are also credit builder prepaid cards which charge a monthly fee which is then recorded on your credit file as repaying a debt. This helps you build your credit score.
Get a secured credit card
Secured credit cards can be used to improve your credit score as they allow you to show you can make credit repayments, they add to your available credit which will improve your score and they allow you to show a low credit utilization which will improve your credit score.
Getting approved for most credit cards will be difficult if you have a low credit score but a secured credit card can help you overcome this.
Secured credit cards will approve you if you pay a deposit as part of your secured credit card application.
This deposit is usually your credit limit or a percentage of your credit limit. Secured credit cards aren’t very common in the Uk.
Capital one was known to offer one and you should contact them to see if this is still available.
You should be aware that secured credit cards will have low credit limits and high APRs. This can lead you to fall into serious debt if you fail to keep up your monthly credit repayments.
Get a credit builder loan
Another way to improve your credit score is by using a credit builder loan.
Credit Builder loans, just as they sound, help you build credit. The idea is you take out a loan but rather than receiving the loan funds these are deposited in an account(usually to earn interest) and you make repayments to the loan provider every month.
As you make these loan repayments on time your credit file records this and your credit score improves. At the end of the loan term you get all your loan repayments and whatever interest you have gained.
Loqbox is a credit builder loan provider in the UK.
Get a cosigner for a credit card or loan or become an authorised user
If you can’t get a credit builder loan, credit builder card or secured credit card then your next bet to help you improve your credit score will be to get yourself a cosigner on a credit card or loan.
You should really only do this if you are likely to repay your credit cards or loans on time and in full every month.
If you fail to make your credit card repayments on time then this may affect your co signer’s credit score too. If you make these repayments on time your credit score will rise and the payments will be registered on your credit file for at least 6 years.
Getting a cosigner on a credit card or loan creates a financial relationship between yourselves. This means any negative behaviour from them might affect your credit score negatively and vice versa.
A cosigner essentially allows you to qualify for credit and in some cases cheaper credit. A cosigner will also be legally responsible for any debt owed on the account if you default.
Another way to help improve your credit score is by becoming an authorised user on someone else’s credit card.
The difference between authorised users and cosigners isn’t that much. Becoming an authorised user on someone else’s credit card will help you improve your credit score if the main card holder makes all their repayments in full and on time each month as well as keeping their credit balance low.
some credit card companies might not take you into account and may not collect this data and hence report it on your credit report.
You should contact the credit card company asking them to report the fact that you are an authorised user on the credit card to the credit bureaus.
Becoming an authorised user does not give you any liability, so if the main card holder defaults you won’t be held liable but it does affect your credit score if the account is mismanaged or goes into default.
Keep your credit accounts open as long as possible
Closing credit accounts can negatively impact your credit score as this reduces the number of accounts with a credit history. This is especially worse if the credit account you close is one with a long history. The account will no longer be open and will therefore not count towards the majority of your credit score.
Unused credit accounts which don’t have long histories can be closed as they do not add to your credit score. Having access to too much unused credit may also be seen as negative.
Avoid payday loans
Most lenders look down on payday loans as they view people who take out these loans to be desperate and hence financially irresponsible.
Paydayloans will therefore have a negative influence on your credit file and you should avoid them.
Avoid making too many credit applications
Making applications for utility or credit can reduce your credit score. This is because everytime a utility or credit provider is about to open a new account they will do a hard credit search. You should only apply for credit or utility which you are pre-approved for. If you make multiple credit applications then multiple hard credit searches will be done on your credit file.
This means your credit score will go lower as the credit bureau will view too many credit applications as you being desperate. If you stop making blind credit applications then your credit score will likely improve.
You should always use an eligibility checker to see if you will be approved for credit or utility accounts before you apply. These checks are done with soft credit searches which only you can see.
Report your rent to the credit bureau
Another way to improve your credit score is by reporting your rental payments to the credit bureaus.
If you currently pay rent or paid rent within the last 3 years you will be able to report your rental payments to the credit bureau and this will be an account on your credit file showing your payment history.
Paying your rent on time will ofcourse improve your credit score whilst missed payments will reduce your credit score. The scheme is known as the rental exchange scheme and is currently only being offered via Experian.
Increase your available credit limit
Increasing your credit limit will reflect on your credit file and improve your credit score as it shows lenders are willing to trust you with more money as well as reducing your current credit utilization (how much you spend in relation to how much credit you have available. The golden rule is a maximum of 30%).
You can ask your current card provider to increase your credit limit or let you know if you will be eligible for a credit limit. Also ask if they intend to run a hard credit search on you and do not consent to this unless they will pre-approve you for a credit limit increase.
Open a new credit card account
Opening a new credit account will be your next option if your current credit card provider will not increase your credit limit. You essentially accomplish the same things as your available credit limit increases.
You must repay your balances on your credit card account every month and avoid using over 30% of your available credit. This is a good option if you want to improve your credit score.
Have a good credit mix
Mix things up a little by having a varying degree of accounts on your credit file. Like your partner, credit bureaus like to see you mix things up a little bit. By this, we mean that a proportion of your credit score is ranked by how diverse the different types of credit you have been utilizing is.
Revolving accounts (i.e. credit cards, store cards)
Installment accounts (i.e. home equity line of credit, auto loans)
Open accounts (utility accounts)
Increase your variety and your credit score will increase.
Ensure your registered address is the same on all your credit accounts
Any active accounts on your credit file should display your correct address. You can check the addresses on your accounts by viewing your credit file. Make sure all active accounts list your current address. This may improve your current credit score.
Check your credit score regularly
Checking your credit score regularly is one of the ways to ensure that the information on your credit score is indeed up to date.
It also informs you on what your credit score is and this allows you to have an idea of which credit providers may lend to you.
If you find any errors on your credit score or report you can contact all of the credit bureaus or the specific credit bureau where the error is mentioned and ask them to make the necessary corrections.
The credit bureaus will check and investigate the matter but in the meantime put a notice of correction on the record entry so that any third parties who are checking your credit score will be aware that the entry may be incorrect.
The credit bureau will usually let you know the outcome of their investigations within 28 days.
Some of these credit bureaus may charge you a fee to view your credit report so what you can alternatively do is request a statutory credit report which is a free credit report which each credit bureau must provide to you upon you requesting it.
Alternatively, you can also use credit score services such as Checkmyfile and clearscore to check your credit report.
Remove negative financial links
You should check your credit file for financial links that you don’t recognise. Some financial links can reduce your credit file as this might mean your credit score is going down due to someone else’s bad credit behaviour.
Any financial links which seem out of the blue can be removed from your credit file. Financial links can be generated by just sharing apartments with someone else, getting a loan with someone else etc. You should ask the credit bureaus to correct this.As you remove these negative financial links your credit score should improve.
How do I know if I have adverse credit history?
To know if you have adverse credit history you should simply get your credit report from all the four credit bureaus which include Crediva, Transunion, Equifax and Experian. You don’t have to pay for this report. You can get a free statutory credit report to check for adverse credit history.
What is considered an adverse credit history?
An adverse credit history could be when any of the negative markers below are in your credit history:
Missed credit repayments
Late credit repayments
Individual voluntary agreements
County court judgements
What is an adverse account?
An adverse account could be accounts which may hurt your credit score and history. This could be accounts such as payday loans. An adverse account could also be an account that is in arrears or is now in default and is being sent to a debt collection agency. This could be the case if you fail to make any repayments on your credit obligations.
What is an adverse credit history check?
An adverse credit history check is when a check on your credit file is to determine if you have adverse credit history. This could be missed credit repayments, late credit repayments, bankruptcy or a home repossession. Lenders will usually conduct an adverse credit history check before providing you with credit. This includes mortgage lenders, car finance lenders, personal loan lenders etc.
How long is adverse credit history?
Adverse credit history will usually stay on your credit profile for 6 years. There are some cases where you can remove it.
How do I fix my adverse credit history?
You can fix your adverse credit history by doing the below:
Get your credit report from all bureaus
Make a note of all adverse credit history
Dispute any adverse credit history which you can dispute with the companies and credit bureaus
Come to agreements with credit providers in other to remove the negative markers
Get on the electoral roll
Get a credit builder loan
Get a secured credit card
Get a credit builder credit card
Keep a credit utilization of less than 30%
Increase your credit limit
Keep credit accounts open for as long as possible
Avoid any missed payments
Pay off your debts (outstanding balances) which are displayed on your credit file
Open a credit account
What does no adverse credit history mean?
No adverse credit history means that your credit history does not contain any negative markers such as missed credit repayments, late credit repayments, bankruptcy or a home repossession which may indicate that you may not pay for your credit obligations in time in the future.
Is a CCJ adverse credit history?
Yes, a CCJ(country court judgement) is adverse credit history which will stay on your credit file for 6 years and reduce your credit score by at least 200 points.
You can remove a CCJ from your credit file if you pay it off within 14 days of receiving the claim letter. You can mark it as satisfied on your credit file if you pay it off after this time.
How can I get adverse credit history removed?
Adverse credit history will be removed from your credit file after 6 years. If it is inaccurate then you can get it disputed by with the credit bureaus and then removed.
How will it affect my credit report?
It will cause your credit score to fall and stay low until the adverse credit history is removed after 6 years or before 6 years by you.
In this brief blog, we discussed adverse credit history. If you have any questions or comments please let us know.
If you need financial advice and you live in the UK then you could contact the Money Advice service over the phone or via chat for impartial advice.
You can also contact the debt charity “Step Change” if you are in debt and need help.