What is a credit score?
Your credit score is a number that tells you how likely you are to be accepted for credit. It may differ from lender to lender – there is no such thing as a universal credit rating. Each lender will evaluate your financial situation based on the information in your credit file (such as credit applications, late or missed payments, financial links to other people, and whether you have a history of bankruptcy or unpaid court judgments). There are three UK credit reference agencies – Experian, Equifax, and Callcredit, and all lenders will use at least one of these agencies when assessing your file.
How can I find out my credit score?
You can find out your credit score free online through sites such as ClearScore, MSE’s Credit Club, and Noddle. Be wary of sites that try to charge you to access your credit score – there is no advantage to paying for something you can obtain for free.
What is a good credit score?
Every lender has different credit score requirements, and what is acceptable to one lender may result in a rejection from another. Lenders will also take other factors into account when deciding whether to give you a mortgage. As a rough guide, these are considered good credit scores:
- Callcredit: 4 out of 5
- Equifax: over 420 out of 700
- Experian: over 880 out of 999
How can I improve my score?
When applying for a mortgage, it’s important to know what you’re dealing with. Check your credit score before you start house hunting to make sure everything is as you expect. If your score is lower than anticipated:
- Double check everything in the report – if there are any discrepancies or mistakes, contact your credit reference agency immediately.
- Register on the electoral roll – this helps lenders track your history more easily. If you are not eligible to vote in the UK, you can send proof of residency (driving license, utility bills etc.) to all three agencies and ask them to add a note to verify it.
- Show financial responsibility – paying utility bills/phone bills on time and sticking to a monthly budget shows lenders that you are able to manage your finances effectively.
- Close any unused accounts/credit cards/store cards – access to too much credit can negatively affect your application.
- Delink yourself - check that you are not financially linked to anyone (through a joint bank account, mortgage, loan, or utility bill) who might lower your credit score.
- Limit full credit checks - too many applications, especially in a short time period, can negatively affect your credit score. Most lenders can help you avoid this by using soft searches to check eligibility without hurting your score. Getting your finances in order before applying for a mortgage is the best way to maximise your prospects.
Whether you are buying or selling a property, Lillicrap Chilcott offers expert advice and professional service. Contact us today for more information.