What is credit?
Credit is an arrangement that lets you buy things now and pay for them later.
To get credit, you must be able to prove that you can pay back the amount you want to borrow.
Before a company will lend you money they will check your credit history with the National Credit Regulator (NCR). If you have a bad credit record, e.g. if you skip payments or have too much debt, you may not get the credit you want.
On the other hand, if you have a good credit record, it can help you to qualify for credit today – as well as for credit in the future. It can even help you to get a better repayment rate or credit limit.Building a good credit record
Having a good credit record makes it more likely that a company will lend you money. It will also help you to get credit again in future (as long as you can afford it!)
If you want to build and maintain a good credit record, it’s important to use credit in the right way. For example, only borrowing what you can afford, making all your payments on time and paying off your accounts quickly will help you to build a good credit record.
Some credit bureaux, like TransUnion or Experian allow you one free credit report per year. So instead of waiting until you’ve applied for credit to find out that you have a bad credit record, apply for a free credit check!How to fix a bad credit record
Having a bank account does not guarantee that you will get credit. A credit check will be conducted (with your permission) and if you have a bad credit record, your application may be rejected.
So how do you fix a bad credit record? Paying off your debts is a good start, so talk to your bank about the best way to manage your money so that you can pay off what you owe.
Sometimes people borrow more money than they can afford to pay back and then they find themselves in serious financial trouble. Debt counselling can help, but there are pros and cons:
When you are in debt counselling, creditors cannot take action against you
There is no permanent record of having undergone debt counselling
There is only one monthly repayment to be made
Your budget will meet your basic needs first before provision is made for debts.
You will never pay more money than you can reasonably afford
A debt counsellor will suggest ways of cutting costs and saving money
You will no longer get calls from your creditors demanding payment.
You are not allowed to have more credit while undergoing debt counselling
It does cost a little bit of money, but the fees are set by law
Your debts might take longer to pay off as a result of paying smaller amounts each month.