Martin Lewis, founder of says: “Everyone should take time to manage and boost their credit score. It's no longer just about whether you can get mortgages, credit cards and loans, it can also affect mobile phone contracts, monthly car insurance, bank accounts and more.”

However, what happens when applicants realise that their credit score is at the lower end of the rating scale?

How do you improve it and how long will this take?

First, what could be impacting your credit score?

Several factors impact credit scores, each contributing to the score credit reference agencies provide applicants.

Not being on the electoral roll

It's pretty easy to rectify if you are not on the electoral register - all you have to do is register with your local council. Lenders like when applicants have an address that confirms where they are. So if you are not on the register, do so as soon as possible.

Taking out too much credit at once

If applicants make several credit applications simultaneously, this does not look great to credit lenders, almost appearing as desperate, suggesting to lenders that you’re relying heavily on credit to manage your finances.

Using too much of your available credit

For some credit lenders, their preference is for borrowers to not use more than 25% of their total credit limit at any one time. For example, if an existing borrower has a credit limit of £2,000, they should not have more than a £500 spend on the account.

Borrowers who wish to improve their credit scores will need to repay some of the used credit limits to sit under the 25% spend. This is not an exact science as other factors still come in to play yet those who adopt this approach, will see their credit score rise.

Having too much available credit

This may sound weird, yet having lots of empty credit cards can adversely impact a score. Newer lenders worry that if they lend to you, you could still take on more credit with your other empty credit cards, thus making it riskier for you to repay them.

The point here is, do you need all that available credit? Keep the ones you use to spend and repay on time regularly, and ditch the ones you no longer use at all. Old balance transfer credit cards are an obvious target for closure.

Having the ‘wrong’ credit

Whilst this may be controversial, those with loans and credit from high-interest payday loan lenders like Wonga, or whopping interest-rate APRs on so-called credit builder credit cards could see their credit scores take a plummet. Lenders see these as the only credit you can receive rather than traditional borrowing like from a bank.

No or little credit history

Again, this may sound counter-productive, yet those who have lower scores are also those that have never used or only borrowed a long time ago. For lenders, this means that they have little credit history of you as a borrower - and thus whether you are actually able to repay in the present.

You will need to demonstrate that you can manage credit over a few months before seeing any improvement. A tip is to get a small balance credit card and pay it off each month.

Debt, Bankruptcy's & County Court Judgements

Debt, bankruptcy's and CCJs will linger on your credit report for six years. There is definitely no short-term fix here - the only option is to ensure that in these six years you remain debt-free and maintain an excellent financial position. Finally, this will be reflected in your credit score, yet it won't happen until the six years are up.

Being financially linked to another person

Being financially tied to someone – something that usually occurs when you share a financial account, like a joint saving or current account, or even a mortgage; will impact your credit score.

Sadly it is a fact, many couples separate or divorce, and if their score is terrible, this will still impact yours. The tip here is to contact each credit reference agency and ask for this link to be removed. Next time your credit report is refreshed - the link should be removed.

How long will my credit score take to improve?

Each bank, building society, online lender, local authority and other relevant organisations have their own timescales for updating credit reference agencies with the latest information. It could be several weeks before applicants notice any changes in their credit report.

Improving credit scores is about ensuring that you make smart choices about your financial situation, and having the determination to see it through.

So, first, check what is impacting your score, and then ensure that you update every credit reference agency. Sadly, there’s no overnight fix but having a good credit score is worth the effort and will set you up for a stable financial future.