Sort fact and fiction when it comes to your credit card
There are lots of misconceptions about credit cards. Our guide can help debunk the myths
Credit cards can be an excellent budgeting tool, but there are plenty of myths and misconceptions about their use and how they can affect your credit score.
Our guide debunks some of the most common myths so you can feel more informed when applying for a new card, using existing cards and building your credit score.
What are the most common myths about credit cards?
There are many misunderstandings about how credit cards work and how they can impact on your credit score. Here we look through some of the most common myths:
Checking your credit score lowers it
Checking your credit score will not lower it – in fact, it will not affect it in any way. When you check your credit score, it is effectively a ‘soft search’ on your credit file – and this isn’t seen by lenders or anyone else. You can check your credit score as often as you like without fear of negatively affecting your score. It is a good idea to regularly check your rating and look at ways to boost your credit score. The higher your score the better the credit card deals you’re likely to be offered should you want to apply for a credit card.
Increasing my credit card limit will affect my credit score
When you get a credit card the provider or lender will give you a credit limit. The amount of your personal credit limit will depend on a range of factors, including your credit score and your monthly income, for example.
Sometimes your provider may increase your credit limit – if that’s something you agree to, or you can request an increase. This might be because you’ve had a pay rise, for example, or you have managed your finances well over a number of months or years.
Having a larger credit limit should not affect your credit score. However, your score could see a dip in the short term. This is because your card provider might do a hard credit search to ensure the new credit limit is affordable. A hard search can cause a temporary fall in your credit score. But if all else stays the same you should see your credit score recover within a few months.
Getting a credit card will lower my credit score
While applying for a credit card could cause a temporary dip in your credit score – because the lender will do a hard search on your credit file. Your score should recover quickly, usually within a couple of months. Getting a credit card should therefore have no negative effect on your credit score.
That said, how you use your credit card will have a significant impact on your credit score. If you regularly borrow up to your credit limit, or miss a monthly repayment this is likely to see your credit score fall.
Conversely, if you keep your credit usage relatively low and always meet your minimum monthly repayments this should boost your score over time. For this reason, if you have a low credit score and you’re looking to improve it – taking a credit builder credit card can be one way to start to grow your credit rating.
Having multiple credit cards will damage my credit score
In this case it depends how you use your credit cards, but having multiple cards won’t automatically mean a lower credit score. In fact, in many cases having a number of cards and using them well can lead to an increased credit rating.
It will depend on how you manage the credit you have available – for example, not spending right up to the credit limit on each card and making monthly repayments on time.
A declined payment on my credit card will damage my score
There can be lots of reasons why you might have a payment declined.
If the payment from your card is declined because you have exceeded your credit limit then this is likely to impact negatively on your credit score.
But if it was declined for another reason, beyond your control, such as a technical problem or a mistake by your card provider – then this won’t affect your score.
And remember if something is recorded inaccurately on your credit file you can have mistakes corrected so it won’t impact on your score.
Other common credit myths...
Here are some more common myths surrounding credit cards and credit scores:
There is a credit blacklist: This is false. While many consumers might talk about being credit blacklisted, there is no such list. Individual lenders and card providers make their own decisions about whether or not to lend to people – based on their own personal financial situation and credit score.
You have one credit score: Not true. There are a number of credit reference agencies (CRAs) in the UK. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion (used by MoneySuperMarket’s credit monitor service), are the largest CRAs. But each has its own credit scoring method and range, so you will have different individual scores depending on which CRA service you use.
Your credit score is affected by the credit rating of the people you live with: This is only the case if you have applied for in the past, or have shared financial products – such as a joint bank account, credit card or joint mortgage. If you had shared financial products with an ex-partner you can tell the CRAs that you want a notice of financial disassociation on your credit file so your credit histories will no longer be linked.
Useful credit card guides
We have a wide range of helpful guides, whether you’re looking for your first credit card or you want to switch a balance to benefit from an interest free card. Find out more:
Compare credit cards with MoneySuperMarket
Looking for a new credit card? Maybe you want to switch an existing balance from a high interest rate to a lower or zero per cent interest rate card? MoneySuperMarket is here to help. When you search for a new credit card with us we’ll show you a wide range of deals and your likelihood of being accepted for each card – all without affecting your credit score in any way.
Comparing in this way gives you greater confidence when it comes to making your full card application.
MoneySuperMarket is a credit broker – this means we’ll show you products offered by lenders. We never take a fee from customers for this service. Instead we are usually paid a fee by the lenders, but the size of that payment doesn’t affect how we show products to customers.