How can returning expats rebuild their UK credit score?
Figures show that over a third of British expats plan to return to the UK. If you’re one of them, follow these six simple steps to fix your finances after life overseas – from the experts at LOQBOX.
Before we start, some basic background. Depending on how long you’ve lived away, you’re likely to have a limited – or completely blank – UK credit history. Rebuilding it is all about getting yourself back on the financial radar. As Experian’s James Jones puts it:
When a lender reviews your credit report they are essentially looking for information to help them check three things: 1. Your identity, 2. Your past borrowing record, 3. Your current commitments. … So your first aim should be to re-establish a credit record at a UK address as quickly as possible.
And here’s how you’re going to do it:
1. Get yourself on the electoral roll
Do this right away. As well as letting you vote, it acts as an important financial ‘anchor’ that really helps your credit score. It only takes a few minutes, and it’s completely free. Just head to www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.
2. Get a copy of your credit report
You don’t have to pay to see your credit report anymore. Each major credit reference agency (CRA) offers a free service online – Clearscore (uses Equifax data), Credit Club (uses Experian data), and MSM Credit Monitor (uses TransUnion data). It’s a good idea to check all three for inconsistencies or mistakes.
If you want to monitor your UK credit report while it’s coming together, a [free online] service … might be a good option. This would also give you a credit report score, whenever you log in, to help you track your progress.
James Jones, Experian
3. Don’t worry if they can’t find you
Credit histories only last six years, so the CRAs may not have much data on you – or maybe none at all. This is OK. The other steps here will help establish your ‘financial presence’ with them.
[Experian] hold information on closed accounts for six years, so when moving back from a spell abroad there may still be information on your credit report, depending on how long you have been away.
To check for any old information, make sure you supply your old UK address in your application when it asks for a previous address.
4. Get bills in your name
Utility bills won’t help you get credit, but they help to build a digital identity. Whether renting or buying, if you pay the bills, make sure they’re in your name so they count towards a credit history.
5. Get a mobile account
A mobile phone contract is another way of building your digital identity with the Credit Reference Agencies. You’ll need to pass a credit check, which could be tricky, but don’t let that stop you trying.
6. Get yourself a credit card
Getting a credit card and making full payments each month will build your credit history and prove creditworthiness to lenders. You’ll need to pass a credit check. Use a ‘soft search’ tool from totallymoney.com or moneysupermarket.com to see how likely you are to be accepted before applying.
Some card companies (like Luma and Capital One) offer credit cards specifically designed to help those with bad credit build up their history. Money Saving Expert even has a handy page all about them.
7. Make your rent count
If you’re renting, using a service like CreditLadder can help build your credit history by reporting your rent payments to Experian.
LOQBOX itself is completely free. If you’re struggling to get a foot on the credit ladder – or you just don’t want a credit card – you can sign up to LOQBOX and rebuild your credit history just by saving as little as £20 a month.
Transparency is important to us, we choose our partners very carefully, and only present financial products we think will work for you. If you sign up to Clearscore or CreditLadder using the above link, then they will pay us commission for this. This income helps us to continue to improve our service for our users and keep LOQBOX free.
This post was written and compiled by the credit experts behind LOQBOX. To sign up for free or read more about the clever way LOQBOX works, head to LOQBOX.co.uk.