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How your credit score affects you

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage

Your credit rating is a key factor in your application

Your credit score, or credit rating, can be crucial to the success of your mortgage application.

Your credit score explained

Your credit score is a number which a credit agency gives you to show how reliable you are at managing your finances. The higher the score, the better your reputation for financial management. Credit Reference Agencies (CRAs) take information from public sources, such as court judgements and information from lenders about your credit history and create a report which banks or lenders use to help reach a decision on whether to offer you credit. Things which may make up your credit score include:

  • What credit accounts you hold, or have held in the past
  • Any court judgements relating to debt
  • missed or late payments
  • information on any bankruptcy
  • how much of your available credit you are using
  • how long your accounts have been open
  • information about where you live, such as whether you appear on the electoral roll and how long you've been at your current address
  • Your current job and employment history

How will my credit score be used?

Every lender has different criteria when deciding whether to lend money and most of these formulas are secret. It's likely that the lender will look at:

  • your credit score
  • information on your application, such as your income and the length of time you've held your job
  • any previous history you have had with the lender

There are three CRAs which provide credit scores within the UK. It's possible that you could score badly with one but not with another. So if you were to be rejected by a lender, another lender using a different CRA may still accept you, every lender is different. Remember to consider that a number of applications in a short period of time can hurt your credit rating too. Our guide on How much can I borrow has more information on what lenders may be looking for.

Can I check my credit score?

You can check your credit score directly through the credit reference agencies such as Experian or Equifax. Their websites will, for a monthly fee, allow you access to your credit score and any changes that happen to it. They will also let you know when someone else checks your credit score. It's important that you check the information on your credit report is accurate. It is possible for mistakes to be made and these could hugely affect your credit score. The CRA should offer advice on how to report inaccurate information on your credit report to the lender involved.

How can I improve my credit score?

The obvious thing to do is make sure that you are making all payments for any debts on time and in full. Additionally:

  • Make sure you're registered to vote: lenders use the electoral roll as a precaution against fraud
  • Review your credit report regularly and make sure it's accurate and up to date
  • Close unused accounts: lenders may take the total amount of credit you have available into account, rather than just what you owe
  • Space out credit applications: some lenders may view many applications close together as a sign of financial stress
  • Make sure that your name and address details are accurate

Before they offer you a mortgage a lender will make sure that you are able to pay the money back. Your credit score is only a part of their decision but it is an important part. You should be sure that you understand what your credit score is and how you can help improve it.


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