Top 10 ways to improve your credit score

The 10 best methods for getting your credit rating in top shape and boosting your credit score.

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Any time you apply for credit, from a personal loan to a mortgage, a lender will look at your credit score. Also known as your credit rating, it’s the numerical value that is assigned to you based on everything that appears on your credit history.

Credit scores are calculated by credit reference agencies such as Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. They’re used by lenders and credit providers to determine if you’re a good candidate for a loan or other credit product.

Here are our expert tips to improve your credit score and get it in top shape.

Quick overview of how to improve your credit score

If you’re looking to give your credit report a boost, here is a summary of the top 10 ways to improve your credit score in the UK:

  1. Register on the electoral roll
  2. Always pay your bills on time
  3. Make sure your credit file is correct
  4. Check for identity theft or fraud
  5. Avoid county court judgments (CCJs)
  6. Reduce existing debt
  7. Staying at the same home
  8. Maintain a good credit utilisation ratio
  9. Consolidate your debt
  10. Open a credit account

What is my credit score?

Throughout your life, your ability to manage various types of credit will be recorded on your credit report – and that activity forms the basis of your credit score. It will include any application you make for credit and also any missed or late payments.

If you have a low credit score, lenders may view you as a borrower who is less likely to repay what they owe, which can result in you being denied credit or getting approved with more unfavourable rates and terms.

There are 3 main credit reference agencies that calculate your credit score. You might find that your score varies depending on the CRA you’re using because they all have their own unique scoring software.

How do I improve my credit score?

If you have a poor or fair credit score, there are a number of things you can do to boost your credit rating. However, there’s no quick fix and if you want to boost your credit score you’ll need to view it as an ongoing process.

Your financial history plays a big part in determining your credit score but it’s also important to make sure your personal information is up-to-date, correct and accessible by lenders.

Here are the top 10 best ways to boost your credit score:

1. Register on the electoral roll

This is possibly the easiest way to help build your credit rating. Being on the electoral roll gives lenders proof that you are who you say you are when you apply for a credit product and helps them ensure that you’re a real person. It’s free to register, via the website.

2. Always pay your bills on time

Whether it’s for your phone, broadband, energy or credit card, paying your bills in full and on time shows potential lenders that you’re responsible with your finances and capable of managing ongoing debts. Setting a direct debit for regular bills is an easy way to avoid forgetting a payment.

3. Make sure your credit file is correct

It’s important to regularly check your credit report for any errors in your personal details or financial history. Even relatively minor mistakes like having the wrong date of birth or the wrong address can have a negative impact on your ability to get credit.

4. Check for identity theft or fraud

You should check your credit file regularly for potential fraudulent activity, such as someone applying for credit using your name or details. If you find anything suspicious, you should contact the credit reference agency directly as soon as possible. If you think you’re a victim of fraud or identity theft you should also contact your bank and report the crime to the police via the Action Fraud website or phone number on 0300 123 2040.

How to protect yourself from identity theft and impersonation scams

Liz Edwards profile pic
Liz Edwards


Identity theft is when someone uses your name and personal details to apply for credit or buy items in your name, and you're landed with the bills. In an impersonation scam, a frauster pretends to be a trusted organisation such as your bank or HMRC, and persuades you to move money to their account. Here are some ways to protect yourself:

  • If you get a call or message from an unknown number from someone claiming to be from an organisation you know, be wary and call back on the official number. The same goes for messages from people who claim to be friends or family - call back on the number you know, to check.
  • Never feel under pressure to act. Fraudsters create a sense of urgency to rush you into complying, but a legitimate company should allow you time to consider.
  • Watch out for attachments and links in emails or text messages from anyone you don’t know, even if they look legit. Links can allow malicious software to access your device. Instead, go through a company’s official website directly.
  • Guard your personal information and never share your full birthday or address publicly online. Fraudsters can use basic personal details to get more, which could then be used to impersonate you.

5. Avoid county court judgments (CCJs)

Receiving any county court judgments for debt, or any other form of bankruptcy or default, will seriously affect your credit score. It will also make it much harder to get a loan or credit product in future. If you are struggling to make debt repayments, contact your lender and don’t put this off. It should be able to offer you a repayment plan. There are also free, confidential debt charities including StepChange which can offer help and advice.

6. Reduce existing debt

If you’re still paying off a loan or credit card, you should prioritise getting these debts down as much as possible or paying them off in full if you can. Ideally, you should pay off most or all of your existing loans before applying for a new one.

7. Stay at the same home

While it’s not always possible, having a stable address for an extended period of time, whether you’re an owner or renter, reflects well on your credit file and may make lenders more likely to consider you for a loan. But if you do move, make sure you update your address on all of your financial records.

8. Maintain a good credit utilisation ratio

Your credit utilisation ratio is the amount of credit you use compared to your overall credit limit. For example, if the total of your combined credit limits is £1,000 and you’re using £400, then you’d have a credit utilisation ratio of 40%. You should always try to keep your ratio below 25% if possible.

9. Consolidate your debt

If you have multiple debts, it may be a good idea to try to consolidate them using a debt consolidation loan. This can make it easier to manage your debt payments and show potential lenders you’re responsible about paying off your existing debt. You may even be able to reduce your repayments if you can find a loan with a lower interest rate.

10. Open a credit account

If you have a limited credit history, you should consider opening a small credit account, such as a credit-builder credit card, to help build your credit. Just make sure you pay off the card on time each month, otherwise you may end up negatively affecting your credit rating. Interest rates on these cards are generally high, so repaying your balance in full will ensure you avoid these charges.

Credit services that can help you boost your credit score

Name Product Score Reports to Savings requirement Credit limit Fee How it works
Pave Plus
Finder rating
Experian, Equifax, TransUnion
Not specified
£9 per month
Build your credit score with all major Credit Reference Agencies by paying your membership fee on time. Subject to eligibility, Pave may open a credit line that you can use to top up your bank account periodically.
Pave Lite
Finder rating
£5 per month
Build your Experian credit score by paying your membership fee on time (reported to Experian as loan repayments).
Loqbox free
Finder rating
Experian, Equifax, TransUnion
£20 - £200 per month
Decide how much you can save over 12 months and LOQBOX will handle each deposit as a payment on a 0% APR loan – helping build your credit score. Receive all your savings back into a new bank account for free.
Loxbox flexi
Finder rating
Experian, Equifax, TransUnion
£20 - £200 per month
£30 (one-off)
Decide how much you can save over 12 months and LOQBOX will handle each deposit as a payment on a 0% APR loan – helping build your credit score. Receive all your savings back into an existing account for £30.
Pave Spotlight
Finder rating
£3 (one-off)
Identify the best fixes for your score and check if Pave Plus could help you build credit.
Bits Basic
Finder rating
Experian, TransUnion
£4 per month
Build your credit score with Experian by paying your monthly subscription fee. You can also opt into Bits’ “Rent reporting” service to start reporting your rent payments to Equifax.
Tymit Booster secured credit card
Finder rating
Not specified
Your credit limit will equal the cash deposit amount
£9.95 per month
Improve your credit score by making a cash deposit to get a credit limit of the same amount. Tymit will report your repayment behaviour to Experian each month.

What is a good credit score?

Unfortunately there’s no universal credit rating system, so a good credit score could be defined as one that doesn’t negatively impact your ability to get approved for credit and ideally helps you get access to the best interest rates and credit products.

Different credit reference agencies use their own ratings systems to calculate your credit score, so what’s considered a good score with TransUnion, for example, won’t necessarily be considered a good score with Experian and vice versa. The credit ratings systems of the 3 major credit reference agencies are:

Experian credit scores and ratings

Experian scoreExperian rating
0–560Very poor

Equifax credit scores and ratings

Equifax scoreEquifax rating
671–810Very good

TransUnion (formerly Callcredit) credit scores and ratings

TransUnion scoreTransUnion rating
0–550Very poor

What lowers your credit score?

  • Applying for too many loans or credit products. Each time you apply for credit, the lender will perform a hard credit check, which will be recorded on your credit file and be visible to other lenders. If you apply for a lot of credit products in a short period of time, you’re likely to suffer a hit to your credit score, and providers will see you as a higher risk.
  • Using too much of your available credit. While your credit limit is there to be used, lenders will consider it a red flag if you’re constantly using most or all of your available credit limit. It’s important to try to keep your credit utilisation ratio below 25% if possible.
  • Failing to repay debts on time. Any late or missed payments will be recorded on your credit file and have a negative impact on your credit rating. They aren’t permanent but will stay there for 6 years.
  • Taking out too many short term loans. This will generally be seen as a red flag by lenders as it suggests you have problems managing your money.
  • CCJs or bankruptcies. Any form of default on an existing debt or loan will naturally have a huge effect on your credit rating and is likely to make it a lot harder to be approved for credit going forward.
  • Incorrect information on your credit file. If your credit file contains lots of errors or mistakes it will make you appear less trustworthy to lenders and impact your credit rating.
  • Opening a joint account with a friend or family member with a poor credit score. Although this won’t directly impact your own credit score, it can make it harder for you to get accepted for credit. That’s because you might have to cover the other person’s share of your joint financial obligations which can affect your affordability.

If you no longer share a joint account with someone, make sure this financial association is no longer on your credit report as it could affect your chances of getting access to credit. You can remove the link by asking the 3 credit reference agencies to add a ‘notice of disassociation’ on your credit record.”

Rachel Wait, financial journalist

Why should I improve my credit score?

Your credit score is fundamental to getting credit, from car finance deals and credit cards to mortgages or personal loans. Any time you apply for credit lenders will look at it so it’s important to improve your score if it’s low.

That’s because the higher your score, the higher the chance you will be approved for credit. Lenders will also decide what interest rate to offer you based on your credit score. Most of the cheapest rates are only available to people with good credit scores. The amount of credit you’re approved for will also depend on your credit score.

How long does it take to improve your credit score?

Unfortunately you can’t improve your credit score overnight, and it can take some time, especially if you already have some black marks on your credit file. Black marks and defaults stay on your credit report for 6 years, but the impact on your credit score should diminish over time. Improving your credit score is a matter of repairing any existing negative marks and also building a positive credit history, both of which can take anywhere from a few months to a couple of years.

In addition to making payments on time and not getting yourself into lots of debt, you need to consistently show you’re able to manage your debt repayments and that you’re on top of your personal data. If your credit score is low, it’s a good idea to focus on maintaining healthy credit habits and wait until the black marks reach their expiration age on your credit report.

Can you boost your credit score fast?

There is no tried-and-tested way to quickly improve your credit score. It’s better to think of your credit score as ongoing and instead focus on building good credit-building habits that you can sustain over time. This includes making sure you always pay your bills and debts on time and regularly checking the details on your credit file.

Frequently asked questions

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Written by

Tom Stelzer

Tom Stelzer is a writer for Finder specialising in personal finance, including loans and credit, as well as small business and business loans. He has previously worked as a freelance writer covering entertainment, culture and football for publications like FourFourTwo and Man of Many. He has a Master of Media Arts and Production and Bachelor of Communications in Journalism from the University of Technology Sydney. See full profile

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