Levelling up with a new car, house or even taking out a phone contract? Then you’ve probably heard about credit checks and more specifically, your credit score. Here’s the lowdown on what it is and why you need to care about it.
From the moment you laid your eyes on that snazzy new VW Golf, you knew you had to have it. Or maybe you're saving for a down payment on your first home. Either way, you've probably heard the term credit score being used. Did you know that it affects your buying power? Here's everything you need to know about credit scores.
What is a credit score?
Simply put, a credit score is a three-digit number that will determine if you are approved or declined for a loan, store account, credit card or similar – basically in any situation where you’re asking an organisation to pay for something you don’t have enough money to settle in cash. Generally, the higher your score, the better you look to lenders. So, if you're serious about getting that house, it's really important to have a high and healthy score. At ClearScore, for example, the rating is out of 705. A credit score of 650 - 669 or more is generally seen as quite good and puts you in a good light. On the same scale, a score of 670 or more is excellent. You don’t want to be below 602.
How is my credit score calculated?
In general, credit score rating agencies look at how late your payments were, how much you owed, and how recently and frequently you missed payments. By also looking at all your other accounts on file, your credit history will show how many of your credit accounts have been overdue. If you’ve gone months and months without paying and ended up with a judgement against you, that will also show up on your report.
How can I check my credit score?
Checking your credit score is quick and easy. The National Credit Act entitles you to one mahala credit report a year, which can be obtained from the following credit bureaus:
You will pay a minor administration fee per credit report if you want to check it again in the same year. While not all credit bureaus offer a free monthly report, ClearScore does, it’s a good and free service you can use to check your score more regularly.
Why is it important to have a good credit score?
We all splurge a little when we’re young and first get that plastic. But you have to remember that your credit score will follow you around for years, and you know what, a few unnecessarily expensive buys that you can’t afford are not worth losing your good credit over. Best believe, it will catch up with you when you’re ready to make your big buy, such as a home, or new family car.
What to do if you don’t like what you see
If you disagree with something on your credit report or want it amended or erased, you should contact the credit agency where you got your rating, fill out an application form, and submit to the bureau the required signed papers and evidence as soon as possible. After that, your matter will be investigated. If you are dissatisfied with the results of the bureau's investigation, you can contact the Credit Ombud, who will provide you with free assistance to the extent possible.
Tips to improve your credit score
- Pay your bills on time.
- Avoid using credit to cover basic living expenses.
- Use credit for large essentials.
- Avoid signing up for unnecessary accounts.
- Live within your financial means.
- Avoid paying off debt with a credit card.
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