Are you wondering how to maintain a good credit rating living overseas?
We’ve got you covered.
So, you’ve decided to spread your wings and leave the UK to live out your expat dreams. Congratulations!
In the age of Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, it has never been easier to stay connected with the friends and family you’re leaving behind.
However — a word of warning — it takes a little more effort to maintain your credit score while you’re enjoying life on the French Riviera.
But it’s not impossible — and if you follow our curated tips below, you’ll be able to not only maintain your credit rating, but even improve it.
Let’s get right into it.
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What is My Credit Rating?
First off, what is a credit score?
Essentially, it’s a way in which banks can ascertain how likely you are to pay back any money they lend you.
This data is based on your previous credit history and is known as a credit report. Your score increases according to how much credit you’ve borrowed in the past and how reliably you have paid that off.
They take into account credit arrangements like mortgages, credit cards, loans, mobile contracts, and more.
Ideally, you want a high score as this tells any money lenders that you low risk at defaulting on the credit — i.e. not paying it back.
This will make your application for a credit card easier and they may even shave off a little of your interest rates!
But living abroad can easily have an adverse effect on your credit rating if you’re not careful. Take a look at this video:
Perhaps you’re asking yourself why would I need to worry myself with my UK credit rating when I’m living as an expat thousands of miles away?
After all, most countries that use a credit scoring system will have a different calculation method and your UK credit score cannot transfer over to these systems, so you will be essentially starting from scratch.
So, what’s the big deal?
Well, should the time come that you decide to return to the land of tea and scones, having a good credit score will make for a smoother and less stressful return.
With a good credit score you will find it easier to rent or buy your dream house or qualify for a car loan to name just a few examples.
Don’t panic if this all sounds too much to manage! Here are a few tips that will help you maintain a good credit rating whilst living overseas.
How to Maintain a Good Credit Rating While Living Abroad
Maintain a ‘home’ account
This is perhaps one of the easiest things to do to maintain your UK credit history.
There’s no reason to close your healthy bank accounts simply because you’re moving away.
By keeping a bank account open and active it will continue to record your credit history, contributing to your score. This could be either a bank account or a credit card.
Experts recommend that you only need to keep up a small payment to ensure that these accounts remain active.
This could be paying for a monthly magazine or Netflix subscription, perhaps a weekly charitable donation or even online shopping.
Whatever you choose to do, just keep it simple and make sure that you pay the bills on time each month!
Alternatively, you could continue to use your UK credit card while you live abroad as this will ensure that the card and account remains active. If you do this, be sure to check that your card doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee, otherwise you could be spending a lot of money unnecessarily!
Top tip: make sure you warn your credit card provider that you’re moving abroad so that they don’t suspect your innocent transactions are actually identity theft.
Mobile phone contract
Find a cheap mobile phone contract and keep it active.
This not only has the benefit of contributing towards your credit score, but it will also make it cheaper for you to make phone calls and allow you to save money on those pesky roaming fees when you pop back home to visit friends and family.
Keep a ‘home’ address
It is important that you retain an address back in the UK as it is needed to maintain your credit cards, bank accounts, and voter registration, and if you do eventually return, you’ll need it to kick start your credit rating again.
If you’re in the UK, you can ask the Post Office to set one up for you.
If it’s easier, choose a trusted relative or a friend to have your mail sent to their home address in your name.
Use your contacts
If you’ve been fortunate enough to establish a great relationship with a lender or a bank while you’ve been living oversees then politely ask them to put a recommendation down in writing to certify your reliability and trustworthiness as a customer.
They are not required to do this for you, but if you don’t ask then you don’t get!
This would be a great reference for your return back to the UK as it proves your financial capabilities all over the world.
Remain registered to vote
Make sure that you remain registered to vote when you leave the UK.
For UK citizens, being on the electoral roll is vitally important to your credit score as it appears as the first entry on your credit report.
This will not work for all expats, especially for those readers looking to take up citizenship or residency overseas. However, this is essential if you’re planning an eventual return back home.
Switch to E-Statements
This last tip isn’t so much a direct way to improve your credit score, but it will help you keep your affairs in order if you’re planning to live abroad: go digital with your banking (if you haven’t done so already).
Unsubscribing from those pesky paper statements that come through the letterbox each month and switching out to efficient e-statements gives you all the flexibility you will need to effectively organise your finances from your new tropical paradise or anywhere else in the world.
This is also an important step in reducing your risk of identity theft.
So stop panicking, kick back, relax and order yourself another Pina Colada.
By following these six easy and simple steps you are putting yourself and your credit score in good stead should you return home to the UK.
For those of you reading swearing that you’ll never return home (and, really, with all this bad weather who can blame you!) consider following these steps regardless as you never know what the future holds.
But for now, rest assured that maintaining and even improving your UK credit score while living overseas is far more manageable and simple than it first seems.
Any more tips for maintaining a good credit rating living overseas?