Credit report with score on a desk

A strong credit history will improve your chances of getting credit again the future.

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When it comes to credit, the way you’ve managed it in the past helps future creditors decide whether they should grant you credit, or if you’re likely to miss loan repayments.

Ways to build your credit history

If you have credit, use these tips to help you build a strong credit history.

Live within your means. Compare your income to your expenses. Don’t spend more than you earn. Use your income to pay for needs, not wants. Needs are things such as food, education, transport and accommodation or your bond.

Cut down on wants such as gambling, expensive restaurant outings, alcohol or loyalty programs and memberships you don’t use.

Stick to your budget. Your budget is your plan to help you manage you money. If you didn’t budget for credit, don’t take it.

List all your credit. Know all their balances, interest and minimum payments. Close accounts you don’t need.

Save for an emergency fund to protect yourself from unexpected expenses that could ruin you financially and cause you to take credit you possible can’t afford.

Never take on credit you can’t afford, even when things seem desperate. If you can’t pay it back it will reflect on your history and you might not be able to get credit again for a very long time.

Contact your creditors if you think you may have trouble making loan repayments in the future. Don’t wait until you’re in arrears.

Don’t ignore your creditors when they call or send you mail about accounts in arrears. Make arrangements sooner rather than later.

Pay your accounts on time and in full. Late and partial payments will have a negative impact on your credit score. This doesn’t apply to store accounts and loan repayments only – unpaid doctor’s bills can also impact your credit record.

Get your yearly free credit report from the major credit bureaus

What if you don’t have any credit?

If you don’t have any past debt, it’s difficult for lenders to see whether you’ll be a risk or not.

Because you haven’t applied for a store card doesn’t mean that you have no credit history. Creditors also considers things like your gym membership or your student loan.

If you have a store card, how you manage it also contributes towards your credit history. And if you make your payments regularly and in full, you’ll also avoid paying too much interest.

Resist impulse buys on your card. Remember that the purpose of your card is to show that you can manage credit properly. Don’t take on too many store cards eitther, as lenders might think you’re applying for credit because you’re in financial trouble or you’re trying to buy things you can’t afford.

Tip: Don’t take credit you don’t need and possibly can’t afford to build a credit history

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