How to Improve Your Credit Score in 6 Months or Less
I. Intro – Improve Your Credit Score
If you’re like many Kiwis, you may not be paying much attention to your credit score. I mean, who does? But here’s the thing, your credit score is an important three-digit number that can ruin your financial life. It can impact whether you get approved for loans, credit cards, apartments, and even jobs. If you’ve just moved to New Zealand, you’ll understand how having no credit history is a pain in the backside, so here’s an article to assist.
With the right strategies, you can see a significant improvement in as little as just six months. In this post, we’ll share six key strategies that can help you improve your credit score quickly and easily in Aotearoa.
First up, we’ll cover how to check your credit report for errors and dispute them. This isn’t as uncommon as you might think! Then, we’ll dive into strategies for paying your bills on time, reducing your debt, increasing your credit limit, and opening a new credit account. Finally, we’ll discuss why it’s essential to monitor your credit score regularly and recommend some useful tools for doing so.
By the end of this post, you’ll have a clear roadmap for improving your credit score and putting yourself on the map for getting access to capital. So, whether you’re planning to apply for a mortgage and need a bridging loan, or a car loan, a loan for renovations, or business finance, keep reading to learn how you can improve your credit score in six months or less.
II. Check Your Credit Report
- When it comes to improving your credit score in New Zealand, the first step is to check your credit report. Your credit report is a record of your credit history, and it’s used by lenders to determine your creditworthiness.
To get a copy of your credit report, you can visit the website of one of New Zealand’s credit reporting agencies, such as Centrix. Once you have your report, it’s essential to review it carefully to ensure that all the information is accurate. If you find any errors or discrepancies, you can dispute them with the credit reporting agency to have them corrected.
According to the Sorted website, “The key to good credit is to have a clear credit history with no defaults or missed payments. If you do have a poor credit history, it’s important to take steps to improve it as soon as possible.” This sentiment is echoed by many financial experts, including Auckland-based financial advisor Sarah Verrall, who advises her clients to “keep a close eye on their credit report and take action to correct any errors or discrepancies as soon as possible.”
Take the time to review your credit report and dispute any errors, immediately. If you’d had a hard run, and you need to clean things up, then do this and you’ll be well on your way to improving your New Zealand credit score.
III. Pay Your Blimin Bills on Time
- Now let’s be real – debt is a heavy burden to bear. But in New Zealand, reducing your debt is kind of important. In facts, it’s finance 101 if improving your credit score.
One simple strategy for reducing debt is to pay more than the minimum payment each month. It may not seem like much, but those extra payments can add up saving you stacks on interest, and of course, you’ll get a big green tick for paying off any loans ahead of time.
- Another option that’s an addition to our last point is to consolidate your debt into a single loan with a lower interest rate. This bundles your debts into one simple, easy t0 manage repayment. This means you’ll avoid penalties and interest charges if you’re missing payments.
Here’s a quick list to get you on track
- Pay more than the minimum payment each month. This can help you pay down your debt faster and save money on interest.
- Consider consolidating your debt into a single loan with a lower interest rate.
- Create a budget and stick to it. This can help you identify areas where you can cut back on spending and put more money towards paying down your debt.
- Avoid taking on new debt while you’re trying to pay off your current debt. This can make it harder to make progress and improve your credit score.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed by debt. There are plenty of support services available in New Zealand that can help you manage your debt and get back on track.
Here are two resources that can be of assistance.
- Sorted.org.nz: This is a free online platform that provides financial resources and tools to help Kiwis get sorted with their money. They offer a variety of tools and calculators to help with budgeting, debt management, and retirement planning.
- MoneyTalks: This is a free helpline service provided by the New Zealand government that offers confidential financial advice and support to individuals and families in need. They can help with debt management, budgeting, and financial planning.
IV. Reduce Your Debt
- Building good credit is needed for securing loans, credit cards, and mortgages with favorable terms. To build your credit, you need to use credit responsibly and make timely payments. Here are some tips that can help:
- Pay down high credit card balances. They have a negative impact on your credit score. Consider using a debt snowball or debt avalanche method to pay down your debts faster.
- Keep credit utilisation low: Try to keep your credit card balances low and avoid maxing out your credit limit.
- Use credit responsibly: Only use credit for purchases you can afford to pay back, and avoid opening too many new accounts at once.
- Monitor your credit report: Check your credit report regularly to ensure there are no errors or fraudulent activity.
If you’re struggling with debt, negotiating with lenders can help you lower interest rates or create a payment plan. Contact your lenders and explain your situation. Many creditors are willing to work with you to find a solution that works for both parties.
Remember, building good credit takes time and effort, but it’s worth it in the long run. By using credit responsibly, paying down debt, and negotiating with creditors, you can improve your credit score and secure a stronger financial future in New Zealand.
V. Increase Your Credit Limit
Now this needs to be considered carefully and seems a contradiction to what we’ve written previously. You don’t want to wind up owing more in the long term. Instead, increasing your credit limit can be a tool to lower your fees. Having a higher credit limit doesn’t mean you have to use it, and it can provide a range of benefits, from increased purchasing power to improving your credit score. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re considering requesting a credit limit increase:
Benefits of a higher credit limit:
A higher credit limit can give you more flexibility to make large purchases or handle unexpected expenses. It helps you avoid your overdraft limit and avoid penalty fees. It can also improve your credit utilisation ratio, which can positively impact your credit score. What is a Credit utilisation ratio? Simply, it’s the amount of credit you’re using compared to your total available credit limit. It’s a measure of how much of your available credit you’re currently using. It reflects your credit management skills and how much risk you pose to lenders.
How to request a credit limit increase:
Contact your bank or lender and ask if you’re eligible for a credit limit or overdraft increase. You may need to provide information about your income, employment status, and credit history to get this, and it’s always best to ask for this increase when financial times are good.
Be sure to consider your ability to manage a higher credit limit and avoid overspending. Also, keep in mind that a credit limit increase may result in a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can temporarily lower your credit score. Remember, a higher credit limit can be a valuable tool, but it’s important to use credit responsibly and avoid overspending.
VI. Open a New Credit Account
Opening a new credit account can be a positive move for your credit score in New Zealand. It feels counter productive, but there are benefits.
How opening a new credit account can improve your credit mix:
Lenders like QuickLoans like to see that you can manage a variety of credit types, such as credit cards, loans, and mortgages. By opening a new credit account, you can diversify your credit mix and demonstrate your creditworthiness.
Be sure to consider the interest rates, fees, and rewards offered by different lenders. You’ll also want to choose a credit account that matches your needs and financial goals, whether that’s a low-interest credit card or a personal loan.
Tips for using your new credit account responsibly:
Once you’ve opened a new credit account, it’s important to use it responsibly. Be sure to make on-time payments, keep your balances low, and avoid overspending. Also, consider paying in advance, and setting up automatic payments or reminders to help you stay on track.
By opening a new credit account and using it responsibly, you can improve your credit mix and build a stronger credit history. Remember, credit is a valuable tool, but it’s important to use it wisely and avoid overextending yourself.
VII. Understanding 5 Important Credit Score Factors
- Payment history: Your payment history is the most significant factor in determining your credit score. Late payments, missed payments, or defaulting on a loan can have a severe impact on your credit score. To maintain a positive payment history, set up automatic payments, make payments on time, and communicate with creditors if you are experiencing financial difficulties.
- Credit utilisation ratio: Your credit utilisation ratio is the percentage of your credit limit that you are currently using. To keep your credit utilisation ratio low, pay down your balances, increase your credit limit, or use different credit accounts. Experts recommend keeping your credit utilisation ratio below 30%.
- Length of credit history: The age of your credit accounts also impacts your credit score. A long credit history shows that you are an experienced borrower, making you a lower risk to lenders. To maintain a long credit history, keep old credit accounts open and active, and use them responsibly.
- Types of credit accounts: Your credit mix refers to the different types of credit accounts you have, including credit cards, personal loans, car loans, and mortgages. A diverse credit mix can improve your credit score. It shows that you can manage different types of credit accounts.
- Recent credit inquiries: Each time you apply for credit, a hard inquiry is placed on your credit report. Too many hard inquiries can lower your credit score. Try to limit your credit inquiries, and only apply for credit when you need it.
- In conclusion, improving your credit score in New Zealand is not an overnight task, but with the right strategies, tools, and mindset, it’s achievable in six months or less. Here’s a quick recap of the key strategies we covered:
- Check your credit report regularly, and dispute any errors or fraudulent activity.
- Keep your credit card balances low to maintain a healthy credit utilisation ratio.
- Pay down debt using the debt snowball or debt avalanche method, and negotiate with creditors for lower interest rates or payment plans.
- Consider requesting a credit limit increase, but only if it won’t tempt you to overspend.
- Open a new credit account strategically, considering the impact on your credit mix and payment history.
Remember, improving your credit score is a journey, not a destination. It takes patience, discipline, and a willingness to learn and adapt. But by taking action and implementing the strategies we’ve discussed, you can start seeing results and achieve your financial goals.
Ash is a professional content writer with extensive experience in business development in the financial services. Ash has founded businesses from the age of 19, including franchising ventures, and working alongside some of the largest retailers in the world.