Below are some tips on how to improve your credit score with credit reference agencies. Lenders use the information they hold against you, among other things, to assess if they will agree to lend to you.

Get on the electoral roll

Prospective lenders use this to check you are who you say you are, and you live where you say you live. Ensure your credit record shows correct address details. Living at the same address and having the same bank account for a reasonable period will also help.

Close unused credit cards, store cards, direct debits and mobile contracts

Lenders may consider the amount of credit you have access to, as well as the amount of debt you owe. Close all credit accounts such as credit cards, store cards, mobile contracts and accounts that you don't use or need anymore. You need to physically contact the provider and close the account!

Don't miss or make late repayments

Missed and late payments can stay on your credit file for up to six years. If you've made a late payment due to circumstances beyond your control (i.e. your direct debit wasn't set up in time), so long as you made the payment promptly when you noticed, talk to your credit provider and see if you can get this black mark removed.

Pay off your debts

Pay off more than just the minimum payment. This signifies good behaviour to a prospective lender, especially with credit cards. It shows that you can manage your debt.

Build your credit history with a credit card

If you've never had credit before, it can be difficult for a lender to assess you. Consider taking out a credit building credit card, making a small purchase on it each month and then repaying the balance in full at the end with a direct debit to build a good credit history. This will show that you can responsibly manage credit.

Space out your credit applications

Credit reference agencies don't get told if you are rejected for credit, but a note is made every time a credit search is made by a lender. Don't use a scattergun approach when applying for credit. The more credit searches carried out in a short space of time, the less likely you are to be accepted for credit. Do not apply for products unless you really need them.