What can make your credit score go up or down?

Your credit score is a rating that reflects how well you've managed your finances in the past and having a good score can give you more options when you're looking for a credit card, loan or mortgage. But do you know what could make your score go up or down? Take our quiz to find out what affects your credit score.

Choose which of the following could nudge your credit score up or down, or have no change at all.

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How does this affect your credit score?

Question 1

Using up more than 50% of your overall credit available

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Using a high proportion of the total amount of credit available to you can make lenders think you might be relying on credit, and that you're at risk of over-stretching yourself as a result. As a general rule of thumb, aim to use no more than 50% of your total available credit.

How does this affect your credit score?

Question 2

Moving to a new address

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When you move to a new address, and you let all your providers know your new details, credit reference agencies will use these new details next time they search for your credit report. Lenders value stability when they're considering how risky you are, and this includes the length of time you've been at the same address.

So, when you move to a new address, your score can go down.

This is usually temporary, and your score recovers as time goes on and your history builds up at your new address. It's a good idea to make sure you update your details on the electoral roll when you move, as this will help to reduce the impact on your score.

How does this affect your credit score?

Question 3

Changing your name

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When you change your name (e.g. after getting married), and you let all your providers know your new details, they will update your name on your accounts. Credit reference agencies will use these new details next time they search for your credit report.

Provided your account numbers stay the same, your history with those accounts will still be there, so changing your name is unlikely to have an impact on your credit score.

How does this affect your credit score?

Question 4

Opening several credit accounts in a short space of time

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When you apply for credit several times, and open several credit accounts, in a short space of time, it can give lenders the impression that you're relying on credit. This can make you seem at risk of over-stretching yourself, and make lenders more reluctant to have you as a customer.

How does this affect your credit score?

Question 5

Checking your credit score regularly

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Checking your credit report or credit score doesn't have any effect on your actual score, or your chances of being accepted for credit, so you can check as often as you like.

How does this affect your credit score?

Question 6

Getting quotes for insurance on a comparison site

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Running quotes and comparing prices for insurance on a comparison site doesn't harm your credit score. When you get a quote, insurance companies may do a soft credit check – this is a background check to confirm your identity. You'll be able to see these when you look at your report, but they don't have any effect when you apply for credit.

How does this affect your credit score?

Question 7

Missing a repayment

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If you miss a payment, it can give lenders the impression you're unreliable, and this can make them reluctant to lend to you.

How does this affect your credit score?

Question 8

Late payment

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If you make a payment late, it can give lenders the impression you're unreliable, and this can make them reluctant to lend to you.

How does this affect your credit score?

Question 9

Getting rejected for credit

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Lenders can see whether you've applied for credit elsewhere, but they can't see the outcome of those applications, so it shouldn't form part of their decision whether to lend to you or not.

However, if you make lots of applications in a short space of time, it can give lenders the impression that you might be desperate for credit, at risk of over-stretching yourself as a result. This can make lenders more reluctant to lend to you.

How does this affect your credit score?

Question 10

Registering to vote

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It's a good idea to register to vote, because being on the electoral roll shows that you're at a stable address and can be easily contacted. Lenders will also use the electoral roll to confirm your address when you apply for credit.

How does this affect your credit score?

Question 11

Closing credit cards you don't use anymore

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This is a bit of a grey area, because different lenders are looking for different things. Whilst it can be beneficial to have long-standing accounts with good credit histories, it's not a good idea to have lots of unused credit available.

Plus, when you close a credit card, your overall total available credit will go down, so the percentage of your total credit you're currently using will go up. If you do close a card, your credit score will go down slightly, but should then recover fairly quickly over the next few months.

How does this affect your credit score?

Question 12

Having the same bank account for several years

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Having long-standing accounts with the same provider shows stability, which is a positive. It also helps you build up a credit history, so lenders have got something to base their decision on when you apply for credit.

How does this affect your credit score?

Question 13

Getting a pay rise

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Your credit score is a reflection of how you've managed your finances during the past, but your income doesn't form part of this. So whilst it's nice to get a boost to your income, it doesn't affect your credit score.

How does this affect your credit score?

Question 14

Having some savings set aside

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Your credit score is a reflection of how you've managed your finances during the past, but any savings you've built up aren't taken into account. So whilst it's a good idea to build up some savings for a rainy day, it doesn't affect your credit score.

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