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Credit Score Capital of the UK

What is a credit score?

Your credit score is a rating based on your financial history. When you apply for credit, such as a loan, mortgage or credit card, your credit score is one of the things a lender will take into consideration when deciding whether to offer you credit. Therefore, the higher your score is, the more likely you’ll be to get better offers from lenders. Equally, if your score is lower you may find you have difficulty getting accepted for credit at the best rates available.

There is often some confusion around credit scores and why they matter, as well as how you can go about finding out what yours is. You can check your credit score for free using MoneySuperMarket’s Credit Monitor and track your progress monthly. The score you see is out of a maximum of 710 and is provided by the credit reference agency TransUnion1.

Analysing data from over 200,000 users from MoneySuperMarket’s Credit Monitor over a 30-day period in September 2019, the data shows that the average credit score in the UK is 5622. However, individual ratings vary across the country, and many factors can contribute to your score going up or down. 

This report looks at the difference in scores by postcode area to identify which parts of the country have better average credit scores than others, as well as other factors such as age, and being registered to vote.

Average credit rating score in the UK

Credit score by location

According to our data, the postcodes with the highest average credit score are typically found in the south of England.

The EC postcode in London tops the table, with an average of 583 – 21 points higher than that across the whole of the UK. But outside of the capital, those living in Guildford have the highest average credit score – at 578. 

Eastern central London has the highest credit score

Highest credit scores by postcode

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Rank

Postcode

Area

Average credit score 

1 EC Eastern Central London 583
2 GU Guildford 578
3 KT Kingston upon Thames 577
4 RG, W Reading, Western London 576
5 E, RH East London, Redhill 575
6 AL St Albans 574
7 BR, HP Bromley, Hemel Hempstead 573
8 WD Watford 572
9 CB, HG, HR, OX Cambridge, Harrogate, Hereford, Oxford 571
10 SM Sutton 570

Lowest credit scores by postcode

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Rank Postcode Area Average credit score
1 SR Sunderland 548
2 WV Wolverhampton 549
3 KA, DN Kilmarnock, Doncaster 550
4 HU, FY Hull, Blackpool 551
5 WN, TS, OL, ML, L Wigan, Cleveland, Oldham, Motherwell, Liverpool 552
6 WF, TF, BD, BB Wakefield, Telford, Bradford, Blackburn 553
7 SA, DL Swansea, Darlington 554
8 WS, NN, NE, HD, B Walsall, Northampton, Newcastle, Huddersfield, Birmingham 555
9 S, NP, M, DH, CT, CF, BL Sheffield, Newport, Manchester, Durham, Canterbury, Cardiff, Bolton 556
10 RM, PA, LL, KY, DY, BT Romford, Paisley, Llandudno, Kirkcaldy, Dudley, Belfast 557

Seeing a 30-point difference from Guildford, our data reveals Sunderland (548) has the lowest score of any postcode in the UK, followed by Wolverhampton (549), Kilmarnock and Doncaster - averaging 550 respectively. Looking closer into the regional split, the South East (568), London and South West (565 respectively) make up the top three average credit scores in the country. By contrast, individuals in the North West have an average credit score of 557, with the North East - at 553 – representing the lowest credit rating in the country.

Considering the average across all postcode districts within inner London3, the average credit score is 570, but across the wider Greater London region it dips slightly to 565 - on par with the South West. 

Credit card usage

Credit cards can have clear benefits for their users. One way they can be used is as a financial source and method of managing cash flow. Another use could be to build on a credit score if it is possible to pay off any outstanding balances monthly.

One in four users of Credit Monitor hold one credit card, but slightly fewer (one in five) do not hold a credit card at all.

Number of credit cards

Credit card balances in isolation are not directly connected to credit scores – those with high balances on their credit limit can still have high credit scores. Movement on your credit score can be affected by the level of credit utilisation (how much of the credit available to you that you are using), not necessarily the limit amount.

Whilst it can be beneficial to have a credit card, as a method of showing lenders you can borrow credit responsibly, it’s best to have a low number of cards. This is because lenders view this as a responsible use of credit access.

Credit scores by age

Having had more financial experience and time to build their credit score, it is unsurprising that those over the age of 55 have the highest average credit score across Credit Monitor users, at 592. Those in the 25 to 34 age range have the lowest credit rating across all age groups, of 550.

That said, age does not directly impact your score. For example, a 20 year old who is registered to vote and only uses a small portion of their credit availability every month whilst making regular monthly repayments is likely to have a higher score than someone in their 40’s who is not on the electoral register and misses monthly payments.

Credit scores based on age

The data shows that those Credit Monitor users not on the electoral register tended to have lower credit scores on average than those who are registered5.  Although there could be a number of reasons for differences in individuals’ scores, being on the electoral register gives lenders greater confidence that you are who you say you are and that the details you have provided them are accurate.6 However, if you’ve been registered to vote for a number of years you won’t see a continuous improvement in your score, beyond initially registering.

How being on the electoral register impacts your credit score

How to improve your credit rating

There are methods to consider to help you improve your credit rating – here are MoneySuperMarket’s tips:

Download Credit Monitor: The best way to keep on top of your credit score is by tracking its progress. MoneySuperMarket’s Credit Monitor allows you to check your credit score as many times as you like without affecting your rating. It also offers personalised tips on how to improve your score.

Get on the electoral register: Simply by being registered to vote, you could improve your credit rating. It’s quick and easy to register through the gov.uk website.

Debt repayments: Try to keep on top of your repayments for any personal loans, mortgages or credit card balances.

Ensure a sensible use of credit: Make sure you keep spending on your credit card to a reasonable level as if you use a high proportion of your available limit, lenders may view you as being reliant on credit. A lower credit utilisation (for example no more than 25% of your available limit) every month will show a sensible use of your available credit. You also need to ensure that you can afford to pay off any balance on your credit card every month to avoid incurring interest and to ensure that you don’t get charges for any late or missed payments, which can also have an impact on your credit score.

Avoid multiple credit cards: If you’ve got a credit card that you’re no longer using, it could have a negative effect on your credit score. This is because having a large amount of available credit could make lenders think you can’t handle more. It’s advisable to close accounts of credit cards or store cards that you don’t use. Remember it’s not enough to simply cut up the card – you’ll need to contact the provider to close the account. You may find that your credit score drops temporarily when you close an account like this, particularly if it’s an account you’ve had for a long time. This is nothing to worry about, and your score will build up as you continue to manage your money responsibly.

Consider a credit builder card if you want to build on your credit score:  If you have a low or no credit score, and you want to build on or improve it, you may benefit from taking out a credit builder credit card. Credit builder cards typically have low credit limits so you will not be able to borrow much money and higher than average annual percentages rates (APRs). As with all credit cards however, you should only take one on if you are sure you will be able to pay your balances in full on time and every month. Not only will you not incur interest on your debt, paying your balance in full shows lenders you can use credit responsibly.

 

Take control of your credit score

Sources

1 https://www.transunion.com/blog/transunion-expands-to-the-uk-through-agreement-to-acquire-callcredit

2 Data is based on the latest credit reports for 200,000 users of MoneySuperMarket’s Credit Monitor. Reports refresh every 31 days, with the age of the data ranging from 1 to 31 days. The data below represents data pulled on 11th September 2019

3 Inner London represents the postcodes within the central area of Greater London including, Eastern Central London, South Western London, Western Central London, Western London, South East London and East London

4 https://www.fool.co.uk/personal-finance/2019/03/24/how-many-credit-cards-is-too-many/

5 Calculated by taking the percentage difference between average scores for those on the electoral register (566) and those who are not (538), according to MoneySuperMarket's Credit Monitor data

6  https://www.transunion.co.uk/consumer-solutions/help/why-is-it-important-to-register-on-the-electoral-roll

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