Credit Score Capital of the UK

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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 900,000 users from MoneySuperMarket’s Credit Monitor over a 30-day period in October 2020, the data shows that the average credit score in the UK is 5692. 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 Credit Monitor data, those in the south of England are more likely to have a higher credit score, with three of the top 10 areas located in the South East. A further breakdown into the data reveals that people in Kingston upon Thames have the highest credit score in the UK at an average of 586.

Highest credit scores by postcode

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Rank Postcode Area Average credit score 
1 KT Kingston upon Thames 586
2 GU Guildford 583
3 RG Reading 583
4 RH Redhill 582
5 HG Harrogate 581
6 BR Bromley 580
7 AL St Albans 580
8 HP Hemel Hempstead 580
9 SM Sutton 579
10 SW South West London 579

Lowest credit scores by postcode

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Rank Postcode Area Average credit score
1 SR Sunderland 552
2 DN Doncaster 554
3 WV Wolverhampton 555
4 FY Blackpool 557
5 ML Motherwell 557
6 NP Newport 558
7 HU Hull 558
8 KA Kilmarnock 558
9 TS Cleveland 558
10 L Liverpool 559

Seeing a 30-point difference from Guildford, our data reveals Sunderland (552) has the lowest score of any postcode in the UK, followed by Doncaster (554), Wolverhampton and Blackpool - averaging 555 respectively. Looking closer into the regional split, the South East (576), the South West (572) and London (571) make up the top three average credit scores in the country. By contrast, individuals in the North East have an average credit score of 559, with Wales at 561 – representing the lowest credit ratings in the country.

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.3 Of course, regardless of the number of cards you have, you need to ensure you will be able to afford to pay off all balances every month to avoid paying interest and reduce the risk of missing or late payments, which can both incur additional charges and adversely affect your credit rating.

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 600. Those in the 25 to 34 age range have the lowest credit rating across all age groups, of 557.

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

How does registering on the electoral register benefit your credit score?

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 registered.4Although 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.5 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.

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 968,883 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 in October 2020

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

4 Calculated by taking the percentage difference between average scores for those on the electoral register (573) and those who are not (539), according to the Credit Monitor app data

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

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