Reasons why you might not have a credit score in the UK

Having a credit score is important if you want to borrow money, now or in the future. But not everyone has a credit score - here’s why.

Without a credit score, you’ll find it harder to get accepted for loans, credit cards and mortgages. That’s because lenders won’t have evidence of how reliable you are as a borrower and how likely you are to pay back what you owe.

Here, we explain some of the reasons why you might not have a UK credit score, along with why it matters and what you can do about it.

5 reasons why you might not have a UK credit score

These are some of the main reasons you might not have a UK credit score:

1. You’re too young

You’re unlikely to have a credit score until you’re at least 18 years old. That’s because this is the minimum age when you can apply for credit such as an overdraft, loan or credit card. Even then, it can take a while to build up a credit score.

2. You’ve never used credit

If you’ve never borrowed money before or you don’t have any bills, such as water, energy or a mobile phone contract in your name, you won’t have built up a credit score, as there won’t be anything for credit reference agencies (CRAs) – the organisations that keep everyone’s credit records – to report on.

3. You’re new to the UK

If you’ve recently moved to the UK, you might not have a credit score here. Credit scores and reports aren’t transferred between countries, so even if you’ve built up a credit score in your home country, you won’t have done so in the UK. Different CRAs use their own scoring systems.

Registering to vote and getting your name on the electoral roll can be a good first step to building your credit score in the UK. You could also open a bank account and ensure some utility bills are in your name.

4. You’ve not used credit in a long time

Having credit accounts open over a long period can be good for your credit score.

When you close an account, it stays on your credit report for around 6 years. This means if you closed an account more than 6 years ago and haven’t used credit since, you might not have a credit score anymore.

If this applies to you, it can be worth opening a new credit account so that you can start to rebuild your credit score. You could apply for a credit builder credit card, for example, which is designed for those with a low credit score. Credit limits are usually fairly low and interest rates are high, so you’ll need to pay back your balance in full each month. But used carefully, they can be an effective way of rebuilding credit.

5. You’ve used few credit accounts

Similarly, if you’ve used very few credit accounts, there might not be enough information about you on your credit report, so you might not have a credit score.

What does it mean to have a credit score?

Having a credit score usually means you’ve borrowed money in the past, perhaps through a loan, a credit card or mortgage. Your credit score is a number that can range between 0 and 1,000 depending on the CRA, and the higher it is, the better.

Having a high credit score means that you’ve borrowed responsibly in the past – in other words, you’ve kept up with your repayments and repaid the amount borrowed in full and on time. As a result, if you apply for credit again, you’re more likely to be accepted because lenders consider you a safer bet.

Bear in mind that no one has 1 single credit score. The 3 CRAs, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, can all hold different information about you, and they have their own way of scoring. That means you could have a different credit score with each agency.

What’s more, lenders complete their own credit scoring when you apply for credit, using information from your credit report and factors such as affordability to help them.

Why you might need a credit score

If you want to take out a loan, a credit card or a mortgage, having a good credit score means you’re more likely to be accepted and you’re more likely to be offered the best interest rates.

On the flipside, if you don’t have a credit score or your credit score is low, lenders are more likely to turn you away because they have no evidence that you’re good at managing credit.

What does it mean to be “credit invisible”?

Being credit invisible means there isn’t enough information in your financial track record. This means you have a “thin” credit file and either have never used credit in the past or have very few credit accounts.

Put simply, lenders will find it difficult to assess how well you manage credit, so you might struggle to get accepted for certain financial products. Or, if you’re accepted for credit, you’ll pay a much higher interest rate because you’ll be considered a higher risk.

Some people classed as credit invisible also have problems accessing important public services. This is because some organisations use your credit report to verify your identity and may struggle to confirm this if you have no credit history.

What can I do if I have no credit score?

There are several steps you can take to help you to start to build credit. These include:

  • Register on the electoral roll. This simple step helps lenders verify your identity and also helps combat fraud.
  • Get your name on bills. Adding your name to utility bills, such as water, energy and mobile phone contracts, can help to improve your credit score, as these are a type of credit agreement.
  • Pay debts and bills on time. Always ensure you meet your monthly repayments on time, as this will help to demonstrate to lenders that you are good at managing money.
  • Use a credit builder credit card. If you can get accepted, a credit builder card can help you to build up your credit score over time. However, interest rates are high, so make sure you pay off your balance in full each month.

Bottom line

Without a credit score, you’ll find it very difficult to qualify for loans and credit. The good news is there are plenty of ways to build your credit score and boost your chances of being accepted for competitive rates in the future.

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