I’ve been thinking a load about money recently. I’m on quite the savings kick and have been watching my spending, we even made a big purchase with the car. And, I got my very first credit card. And you know, this was quite the achievement. Ever since I moved to the UK I’ve been battling with this little thing called your credit score.
A credit score basically shows how reliable you are when it comes to credit. It’s based on a huge heap of things, from how much you make, how often you don’t pay your bills on time, to whether you move house a lot. And what’s it used for? Well, when you want some credit, your credit score will usually determine your interest rate. So if you have a low score, your interest rate will be higher, or you won’t even be able to get credit at all. If you have a high one then you will hopefully get a low interest rate alongside.
But when I moved to the UK, well I had 0 credit. Yep, nothing. And the main reason was that I had no history in the UK – no spending, no credit, no nothing. I thought this was madness, I had moved to the UK, almost straight into a job with a little bit of savings and absolutely no debt to my name. But despite all this, until I had some proof either way, I would start at the bottom.
And this drove me mad! I couldn’t get a bank account as I had no score, so how was I meant to even build one? Eventually, with my grandma in tow, I managed to open one at Halifax, but they wouldn’t even give me a proper debit card – only one which allowed me to get cash out, I couldn’t even use it online! The same thing happened when I popped over to try and get a phone contract, nope. My phone was in my Grandads name for the first two years I lived here.
It was a pretty long hard slog to then build this score up – after 18 months I had more proof of address so could finally get a proper bank account. Soon after that, I got my first phone contract and could start paying direct debits out of my account. But it’s taken me almost 4 years to get my head together and actually get a credit card. To me, I didn’t see the point in them, why do I need to spend money I don’t have? But in reality, credit cards are the best way to build your credit score – as long as you pay them on time they show you can pay back credit regularly and reliably.
But you know, what I wished was that I had taken some advice on credit scores before now. I recently finally got a credit score check with ClearScore. It’s free (which is what has put me off in the past), and it’s nice to see that my credit score is finally on the way up. It’s not perfect yet, but give it a couple of years and I’m hoping it will be pretty shiny by the time I want a mortgage.
They have a really awesome coaching service too, where you can get advice on how to repair or build your score. I’m using their shape up one at the moment which has been fab to get some advice on some more tweaks to finally build it up even higher. It’s fun to use too – it’s like you’re chatting on iMessage to a friend, full of emojis and gifs. Just what I need to keep me interested!
I’m trying to make more changes now in all of my financial world. It’s something that is so easy to ignore, but I’ve been sorting out credit cards with the best deals. I’ve been hunting out the best deals to try and decrease my utilities and all of those silly adult bills. I’ve been devouring articles on Money Saving Expert to try and cut down – which I highly recommend for all those times where something financial is making your brain hurt. Hopefully, with all these changes and my focus on savings – I’ll be well on my way to the housing ladder in no time!
I have a few things in the works up my sleeve on this area of money and finance – keep an eye on the blog and more will be revealed in no time!
Do you know your credit score? What are your tips for shaping it up?
*Post written in collaboration with ClearScore, but I only work with brands I really think offer an awesome service – and this is definitely the case!