Given the fragile state of the economy in recent years, a good credit rating is no longer just a nice-to-have – it’s a must. As a result, we often find ourselves asking the golden question: how can I check my credit rating?

But what is a credit score? Simply speaking, they are three-digit numbers that lenders use to determine your ‘credit worthiness’. Until the dreaded recession set in, lower scores would have sufficed to secure good loan terms – but this is no longer the case.

So how do we level the playing field with lenders?

There are ways that you can get a Free Credit report, but before we explore this further, we should note that universal credit ratings don’t actually exist. In spite of common misconceptions, individual lenders will score you based on their own ‘ideal customer’ checklist. And we dare say you’ve heard of the dreaded ‘blacklists’, but would you be surprised to hear that these don’t technically exist, either? But don’t worry, to make it easier to understand, we’ve come up with a definitive guide to how you can make the right changes to support your application.

Check your history thoroughly

If you haven’t already, we recommend that you register with an established credit report agency such as Credit Expert. In doing this, you’ll have access to your credit score at the click of a button. As well as this you can also have your details sent straight to your door.

But why should you do this? There have been a worrying number of cases involving people who have been rejected for mortgages and loans because they have outstanding mobile phone bills, for example. In fact, reports in the Guardian this month have named one particular mobile network provider as a repeat offender, and discusses two cases where seemingly trivial issues like a small, unpaid mobile phone bill was enough to have a negative influence on a mortgage application.

So, with this in mind, could there be instances where you changed your address but failed to notify your mobile phone provider? Had you thought you’d ended a contract, but hadn’t? The same could also be said of old bank accounts – do you have an unused overdraft that might be affecting your rating? There might be any number of small blemishes that you’d have otherwise been unaware of, so it’s best to check, and even more important to get these errors amended.

Reassess how you pay your credit card bills

If you’re the type of consumer who settles your card bill in full, then believe it or not, you might actually be damaging your chances of securing a mortgage. While it might seem odd, if your bank spots that you tend to pay your bill like this, then you’re likely to be rejected for a mortgage. But why? Well, what we often fail to consider is that banks are out to make money, and not to help us out as individuals. So what does this mean? To put it simply, banks can give a better grade on your credit report to people who are still in debt, but are always able to make the minimum payments. This said, we certainly aren’t suggesting you get yourself into any debt, we are merely pointing out that you needn’t bust a gut to pay it all off in full every month, because it could actually be to your detriment.

So, you now you know how you can help to improve your credit rating, you’ll be in a stronger position when you come to submitting your application for a homebuyer’s loan. These are just a few suggestions, and if you have any further queries, credit experts are at hand to offer guidance.