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What is a good credit score?

How do I know if my credit score is good?

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Written by  Joe Minihane
8 min read
Updated: 24 Oct 2023

A good credit score usually means lenders will offer you better deals and lower interest rates. But what is a good score and how can you improve yours?

What is a good credit score?

In the UK, the three main credit rating agencies - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion - all have different ranges for their credit scores. Because of this, there isn’t a number that can be said that represents a good credit score. However, simply speaking, the higher the number on the credit rating agency’s range, the better the credit score.   

Experian scores run from 0 to 999 and a good score is anything from 881. With Equifax, scores run from 0 to 1000, with anything over 531 considered good. TransUnion scores rate from 0 to 710.  

MoneySuperMarket’s Credit Monitor uses TransUnion to show you your current credit score. The table below explains Credit Monitor’s scores and what they mean. 

What are the benefits of a good credit score? 

A good credit score signals to lenders that you’re a responsible borrower. That means it can be easier to take out credit cards, loans, mortgages and mobile phone contracts and it will cost you less to repay.  

Here are some of the benefits of a good credit score:  

  • 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, for example, you may see a loan advertised at 6% APR, but someone with a poor credit rating will be offered the same loan at 30% 

  • More options: The best deals on credit cards, loans, mortgages and even current account overdrafts are usually offered to those with the highest credit ratings  

How can I get a good credit score? 

While there is no quick fix for improving your credit score, there are various ways to improve your rating over time. These are our top tips for getting a good credit score: 

1. Register on the electoral roll:

One of the easiest ways to boost your score is making sure you’re on the electoral roll. It takes minutes and it’s free to register on the Electoral Commission website.  

2. Demonstrate financial stability:

One of the best ways to improve your credit rating is to manage your debts well. Try to avoid missing repayments, pay your bills on time, 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 and amend any errors if you spot them.   

4. Close old accounts:

You might not owe anything on a card, but the lender will look at all your available credit lines before it decides 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 are the benefits of having a good credit score? 

A good credit score signals to lenders that you’re a responsible borrower. That means it can be easier to take out credit cards, loans, mortgages and mobile phone contracts.  

Here are some of the benefits of a good credit score:  

  • The ability to borrow more if you need to: Lenders will typically grant higher credit limits, helpful if you need a new mortgage or loan 

  • Lower interest rates: Every pound borrowed will be less expensive to pay back, especially good at a time of rapidly rising interest rates 

  • More options: The best deals on credit cards, loans, mortgages and even current account overdrafts are usually offered to those with the highest credit ratings  

What affects whether I have a good credit score? 

When you apply for a credit card, loan or mortgage the lender calculates your credit score based on your credit report, details on your application form, plus any information they already have about you (if you’re an existing customer, for example).    

Whether you have a good credit score or not is affected by several factors. These include: 

  • Payment history: Paying your bills on time consistently, can strengthen your credit score. But if you don’t keep up with your payments, your credit score will go down. Late payments, CCJs, bankruptcy and accounts in arrears are considered a negative and can stay on your file for up to seven years.  

  • Credit utilisation ratio: Your credit utilisation ratio is expressed as a percentage and is calculated by dividing the amount you’re borrowing by your credit limit. A lower utilisation ratio is usually better because it shows you’re not financially stretched.   

  • Length of credit history: A limited or non-existent credit history can contribute to a low credit score, as lenders don’t have anything to determine how well you use credit. Whereas a long history of using credit cards responsibly can give you a good credit score.  

  • New credit: When you apply and open a new account, your credit history is reviewed - which leads to a ‘hard search’ on your credit file. These ‘hard searches’ show up on your file and other lenders can see them. If you have lots of searches on your file in a short space of time, it can lower your credit score because it could indicate to lenders that 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 use credit responsibly. But this doesn’t mean you should take out a loan just to boost your rating.

Do I have to have a good credit score to get a mortgage or credit card? 

It is usually easier to get a mortgage or credit card with a good credit score, although lenders may assess your finances in greater detail, especially when it comes to applying for a loan to buy a home. Having a good credit score for these products, however, will certainly help your cause and should make the process of approval smooth and quick. 

However, if you do have a bad credit score or have not been able to improve it, you may still be able to take out a credit card, personal loan or mortgage. 

Unlike when you have a good credit score, lenders will need to do a deeper dive into your finances, assessing payment history, your current financial situation and your previous ability to meet loans and debts and payments.  

This will mean that the process of getting approved may take longer and that you will need to hand over more documents in order to get the loan, card or mortgage over the line. 

How long will it take to get a good credit score? 

How long it takes to build a good credit score varies depending on your starting position. 

If you have no history of any credit, it can take around six months from opening a credit account, such as a loan or credit card, before you get a score. From there, you will need to show you can repay any credit used responsibly and take out further lines of credit to boost your score. 

Building a high credit score can take a few years. It will also be improved by paying back a mortgage over time and ensuring you always pay your credit card bill on time. 

Other helpful guides 

For more information about managing your credit score, have a look at more of our useful guides, including... 

Check your score for free with MoneySuperMarket 

With MoneySuperMarket’s free Credit Monitor, it’s free to check your credit score, as well as being quick and easy. It can help you stay on top of your score and work out how you can boost it as high as possible 

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