The problem that we see a lot with applications
When you join the forces you may be among the majority of people who move to service accommodation at a barracks address. Often this will be a second address for you as you will likely stay off-base on weekends, perhaps at a nearby rented address with your partner or at your previous home address. If you then use these multiple addresses for your finances, and are registered on the voters roll at one or more of them, it may have a negative effect on your credit profile.
What lenders would like to see
When you have a credit agreement such as a bank account, phone contract or credit card, that lender records the address for each agreement on your credit profile. For many members of the Armed Forces it is very common to have credit agreements running simultaneously at a number of addresses, however this is the exact opposite of what a lender likes to see, and will significantly reduce the score on your credit profile. What a lender would like to see is you on the voters roll, together with all your credit agreements, at one address, and to have been so for a reasonable period of time. It may be that you live in barracks or temporary military accommodation, but lender systems can’t cope with that, and usually will not register any information at a barracks address. So, if you go to buy a car or get a loan and you declare your barracks address as your main residence, a lender will find it difficult to search your credit profile accurately. This may lead to your application being declined on the grounds of a poor credit reading. Similarly, if you give a civilian address as your main residence, but your credit profile is linked to other addresses you live at, have stayed at, or have a partner at etc., your score will again be affected because of inaccuracies in your address history and the impression you are at multiple addresses simultaneously.
What you should do
The best way to help resolve this, improve your credit score, and at the same time give yourself the best chance of a fair decision on your application, is to simply do this:
- Choose one civilian address that you stay at, have access to, or is the home of someone you trust to receive your mail
- Put yourself on the voters roll at the address you choose, this can be done online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote-armed-forces – as a member of the Armed Forces you also have the option to register as a Service Voter (more information is available in this PDF download)
- Contact everyone who sends mail (or email) to you that is a bill, or a financial statement of any kind, and change your address to the one you have chosen.
Once you’ve taken the steps above it is then important to remember when you’re making any sort of future financial or contract type applications, to forget your barracks address and only use the civilian address you’ve chosen. That way, when a lender does a credit search, they will see you on the voters roll, along with all your credit agreements at one address, and so long as you are up to date with payments, you should have a better chance of your application being approved
So in short, here are the dos and don’ts;
- Put yourself on the voters roll at one civilian address
- Put all your mail, contract, and credit agreements, including bank accounts and phones at the same address
- Use only this civilian address when making an application, unless your barracks is specifically asked for with a military lender
- Change your driving licence, if you are allowed, to the civilian address
- Apply for anything using your barracks address. Think of it as a work address. You wouldn’t apply for a loan and give your home address as a supermarket or office
- Use any other address as your home address, this will potentially leave links on your credit profile. In particular, the address of your partner, or temporary military accommodation
- Have an address on your licence that isn’t either your barracks or given civilian address
- Ask any company that you have an agreement with to use an address other than your chosen registered address. For example, do not get your bank statements sent to your partners address as a one off, or permanently, as this will leave conflicting information on you file as to where you live, and have lived.
If you have all your information at one civilian address, you are on the voters roll, you pay all the agreements you have and pay them on time, you should find it much easier to access mainstream credit services than if you have multiple conflicting credit information on your file