How do short-term loans affect my credit score?
Payday and other short-term loans are typically not the first choice when it comes to borrowing. People generally turn to them if they have a bad credit history or need a quick finance boost and can’t get a loan elsewhere. It’s therefore not unusual to worry about the potential impact on your credit score from taking out this type of loan.
However, if you’re planning on getting a short-term loan, it’s worth knowing that different lenders will view your credit history differently. Lenders normally make a decision on your application for credit based on their own in-house assessment plus a credit search through a credit reference agency (CRA). There are a handful of separate but widely-used CRAs in the UK, so as an individual, you don’t have one single “credit score”.
Will a payday loan application appear on my credit file?
In short, yes. A payday loan will always impact your credit record in some way. Your credit file is a record of your borrowing history, so all applications for credit and all repayments will appear there. It’s normal for lenders to run an “application” search, also known as a “hard” search, before offering you a loan. That search will be logged on your credit file for 1-2 years, depending on the CRA.
However, some actions will hurt your file more than others. Some can even help to boost your credit score.
Below, we explain the scenarios in which your credit score can be helped or harmed by payday and short-term instalment loans.
Can payday loans improve my credit score?
This is down to you. In order to build a positive credit score, you need to show evidence of paying back loans on time.
If you don’t miss a repayment on your payday or short-term instalment loan, you’ll clear it in full and on schedule. This will normally be reported back to CRAs. As a result, this can actually boost your credit score – and therefore your chances of getting another loan in the future. What’s more, credit repayments stay on your file permanently.
Can payday loans hurt my chances of getting loans in future?
The act of applying for credit can have an adverse impact. That’s because any responsible lender should run a “hard” search on your credit history before offering you a loan, and it’s normal for this search to have a slight negative impact on your credit score.
For most of us that’s unavoidable, but provided you then go on to pay off the loan on schedule, that negative impact will be minimal and short-lived. Lenders will be able to see how much you applied for, when and from what source.
Making multiple payday loan applications in a short space of time will almost certainly have a significant negative effect on your credit score, and is a strong indicator of irresponsible borrowing or severe financial difficulties. That means it could seriously harm your chances of being approved for another loan in the future.
Prospective lenders will also want to see how much debt you already have, and how much credit you have access to. If you currently owe money to payday lenders, this is likely to reduce the amount that a lender would be willing to offer you.
Missing a repayment on these loans is an even stronger indicator of irresponsible borrowing. It’ll be reported back to credit reference agencies and have a significant, lasting negative impact on your credit score.
Unfortunately, it is also possible that some lenders could simply be put off by seeing a payday loan in your credit history, even if it was paid back in full and without delay. Regular use of payday loans is more likely to be a red flag.
Compare short-term loans
Use the table below to compare short-term loans from a range of recognised lenders. Simply select how much you want to borrow, and for how long, to compare the best deals.
Please note: High-cost short-term credit is unsuitable for sustained borrowing over long periods and would be expensive as a means of longer-term borrowing.
Mary, James and the different effects of payday loans on their credit scoreMary and James are a couple considering applying jointly for a car finance deal. They check their credit files to see how likely they are to be approved for a big loan.
Mary took out a payday loan five years ago, but made every repayment on time. This had a positive impact on her overall credit score.
James took out a payday loan two months ago and missed his first repayment. This had a disastrous impact on his credit score.
The couple decided that Mary would be better off applying on her own, with James transferring the cash to her.
How to improve your credit score
- Don’t take out too many loans. Once you repay a payday loan, it may tempt you to take out another one. However, taking out several loans for small amounts can be a sign to prospective lenders that you are not in a stable financial position. It doesn’t matter if you repay the loans on time, the fact that you need to take out so many loans may not be a good sign to lenders.
- Make your repayments on time. As mentioned earlier, your repayment history appears on your credit file, which makes it more critical to make your repayments on time. The credit reference agencies will record any payments you miss or are late paying on your file, and any lenders that look at your file can see this for a number of years.
- Don’t make multiple loan applications in a short space of time. As well as taking out too many loans, you should avoid making too many requests within a short period. All applications show on your credit file. Lenders can get a good idea of whether you were approved for loans, based on your applications and how many accounts were opened. Making several requests may indicate that your finances aren’t in good standing.
- Regularly check your credit file. When making loan applications online, it helps to stay familiar with your credit file and also watch for identity theft. It’s essential to check that the records company lists the loan correctly, and to see what your current financial situation looks like to lenders that review your file.
Taking out a payday loan doesn’t necessarily have to have a negative impact on your credit score. However, you should keep the following in mind when deciding whether it’s worth taking out a short-term loan:
- Having payday loans in your credit file can be perceived differently by different lenders.
- Make your repayments on time, and any negative impact to your credit score is likely to be minimal and short-lived. By showing you can borrow responsibly, you’re more likely to improve your score.
- Miss any repayments, however, and you’ll severely damage your credit score. This will make it harder to secure credit for a number of years.
- Some lenders might be put off by seeing payday loans in your credit history, even if they were properly paid off.
Frequently asked questions
Read about how different factors can affect your score
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