How good is your credit rating? That’s an individual score given to you to help lenders understand whether they should lend to you, and if so, it helps determine the amount they’ll give you.Your entire credit rating is founded on – unsurprisingly – your past credit history. There are plenty of ways to negatively impact your rating – and you might not have even considered their impact until you apply for further credit and discover the damage has been down. These include:

• Unpaid credit card bills
• Multiple credit applications
• Late payments
• Not being on the electoral register
• Holding accounts alongside someone with a poor credit rating

You can find out what your exact credit rating is from a variety of companies, most notably Experian and Equifax, who will give you a report on your credit history. This will allow you to know whether your credit history is accurate, and what may be causing issues for you.

Because honestly, when your credit rating looks particularly grim, it can feel like the whole world of finance is against you: You’re turned down by credit card companies, you can’t even get a store card. The money worries stack up and there’s nothing you can do.

Well, that’s not strictly true. Actually, there are a few actions you can take to give a low credit rating a boost.

Check your history for mistakes

So, once you’ve got your credit report, don’t just use it to see what they have on your name – also use it to look at anything that shouldn’t be there. A single mistake on your report can drag your entire credit rating down, and according to the Federal Trade Commission, this affects one in every 5 people. If you spot a mistake, get in touch with the credit reference agency. They’ll have 28 days to remove incorrect information or dispute the claim.

Stop applying for credit

Every time you apply for credit – whether it’s from a bank, a store card, a catalogue company, wherever – that application is logged. And lenders will be able to see a desperate flurry, at which point alarm bells will already be ringing. If you’re in the market for credit, it’s best to first search comparison websites for the best credit rates, and stagger your applications over time.

Pay off the biggest bills

Ok, it might sound obvious, but if it’s possible, try to pay off the bills – especially the biggest ones first. That’s because they can alter your credit utilisation ratio, which is calculated by comparing your existing debt to your total credit, so it’s best to rebalance that ratio as quickly as possible. A recommended ratio is a debt below 30% of your total credit.

Apply to be an authorised user

If you know someone with a good credit rating, and if they’re feeling particularly generous, you could ask them to approve you as an authorised credit card account user. The best part is, despite not being the primary users, you gain all the advantages of using that credit card, which can boost your credit rating.

Pay on time, every time

The absolute best way to maintain a strong credit rating is by simply paying off those loans and bills as soon as you can. And just because you have a history of unpredictable repayments doesn’t mean changing that now won’t work. By making consistent repayments that are on time, you’re showing lenders that you’re responsible and reliable – and that’s exactly what lenders want to see.

Rebuilding your credit rating is a vital step in improving your financial status. It may take some time – poor credit decisions can stay on your file for up to six years – so know that boosting your credit score means playing the long game. But it is possible to do, and you can start doing it today.