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What is a good credit score?

Credit scores and ratings explained


Lenders use credit scores to check you can manage debt. This useful information reflects how you’ve used credit in the past

By Tim Heming

Published: 20 July 2021

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What is a good credit score?

There’s no single answer to ‘What is a good credit score?’ because the three main UK credit referencing agencies (CRAs) - Experian, Equifax and TransUnion - all score consumers differently.

Experian scores run from 0 to 999 and a good score is anything from 881. With Equifax, scores generally run from 300 to 700 with anything over 420 considered good.

Our Credit Monitor service uses credit information from TransUnion, where scores range from 0 to 710 and a good score would be anything from 604 and above.

The following table shows the range of Credit Monitor’s scores and what they mean:

 

 

Why is my credit score important?

A credit score is calculated based on the way you have managed your debts in the past – making repayments on time, for example. It is how lenders judge our credit-worthiness and ability to pay back what we borrow.

If you have a good credit score, you're more likely to be offered the best deals on credit cards and loans – giving you access to higher credit limits, lower interest rates and ultimately saving you money. 

If you have a bad credit rating you're likely to be offered high interest rates and worse deals, or fail to qualify for credit at all.

How is my credit score calculated?

Various information about your debt and payment history is compiled and then used to calculate your credit score. We’ve listed them in order of importance here. 

  • Payment history - If you’ve a history of paying bills on time, it’s good for your credit score. On the flipside, if payments are made over 30 days late it will typically be reported by your lender and could harm your credit rating. Any accounts in arrears, CCJs against you or a bankruptcy will all seriously dent your score. Most negative marks – including late payments – stay on your file for seven years

  • How much you borrow - The main consideration isn’t the amount borrowed, but how much of your available credit lines you’re using. This is called your credit utilisation ratio, which sounds like complex jargon but is simply a percentage calculated by dividing the amount you are borrowing by your credit limit. Lower utilisation ratios are usually better because it shows you’re not financially stretched. To lower ratio pay down credit card balances or increase card limits

  • Length of credit history - Boost your credit score by showing you can manage credit accounts well over a long period. While there is no quick fix, becoming authorised on another existing account the primary holder has held for years could help

  • New credit - When you apply and open a new account your credit history is reviewed. This leads to a hard search on your credit file. Numerous inquiries in a short space of time can lower your credit score because it could indicate you’re desperate to borrow and keep getting turned down  

  • Type of credit – Having a mixture of credit accounts, such as cards, loans and a mortgage can improve your score. This is because it shows lenders you can responsibly use credit. It doesn’t mean you should take out a loan to boost your rating though!

 

What are the benefits of a good credit score?

It’s easy to underestimate how many times in life we need access to credit. Credit cards, loans, mortgages and even a current account with an overdraft facility give us a means of borrowing money – and a good credit score helps get the best deals in every case

With a good credit score you can benefit from...

  • The ability to borrow more if you need to: Lenders will typically grant higher credit limits

  • Lower interest rates: Every pound borrowed will be less expensive to pay back

  • More options: The best deals are usually offered to those with the highest credit ratings

How to get a good credit score

While there is no quick fix to improving your credit score, there are various ways to nurture your rating over time. Here are our top tips:

1. Register on the electoral roll

One of the easiest ways to boost your score is by getting on the electoral roll. It’s free to register on the About My Vote website.

2. Demonstrate financial stability 

The best way to improve your credit rating is to manage your debts well. Don’t miss any monthly repayments, stick to the payment deadline, and stay within your credit limit.

3. Check your credit report annually

Review your report regularly to check all the information held about you is correct. Amend any errors if you spot them. 

4. Close old accounts 

You might owe nothing on a card, but the lender will look at all your available credit lines before it makes a decision on your application.

5. Cut financial links with previous partners

If you have any joint financial products they might influence a lender’s decision. Ask credit rating agencies to add a ‘notice of disassociation’ to your file if you have cut ties with an ex-partner.  

6. Consider a credit builder card 

Prove you can manage your debts sensibly and it should grow your credit score. Interest rates on credit cards for low credit scores are generally high so only consider this option if you can keep your borrowing under control. 

What credit cards can I get with a good credit score?

A good credit score usually opens the door to a range of different types of credit card - purchasebalance transfercashback and rewards – and means that you get the headline or advertised rate when you apply.

What if I have bad credit?

If you have bad credit or a low score and you need a credit card, you may have to accept that you will have less choice of products. You’re also likely to be offered a lower credit limit and a card with a higher interest rate. 

However, there are credit cards designed for people with bad credit. These are called credit builder cards and allow you to show you can act responsibly with your finances to help build your credit rating. 

If you apply for a bad credit credit card with MoneySuperMarket, we’ll perform a soft search so you can see the cards you’re likely to be accepted for before you decide to make your decision. And searching won’t harm your credit score.

How to keep track of your credit score

You can keep track of your credit score by checking your credit file regularly. Get your credit file for free today and see your latest credit score with Credit Monitor.

You can also request a free copy of your credit file from all three credit reference agencies – TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. It’s worth checking all three because they're likely to be slightly different.

The Consumer Credit Act gives you the right to obtain your full statutory credit report at any time for free, either online or by post. 

If you spot a mistake on your file, contact the relevant agency and ask for a correction, explaining why it is wrong and supplying any appropriate supporting evidence.  

Other helpful guides

Can I get a credit card

What type of card is best

Choosing a credit card

Compare credit cards with MoneySuperMarket

Comparing credit cards with us is quick and simple. By giving us a few details about you and your finances, we’ll put together a soft search of the market so you can see results without harming your credit score in the process. 

We’ll also show you your chances of being accepted, so you aren’t left disappointed. If you see ‘preapproved’ you’ll know you’ll be accepted and will get the deal you see. 

This means that the interest rate and interest-free period are confirmed. The only thing we can’t guarantee is the credit limit you’ll get. That way, you know where you stand, so you can apply with confidence.