Your credit score is a three digit number that gives an idea of the health of your credit file. Lenders use your credit file to understand your credit and loan history so they know whether you are reliable enough to pay back a loan. If you have a good credit score, you’re more likely to be accepted for loans or credit cards. Learn how to improve your credit score with

Skip to our top tips to improve your credit score or read more information about what credit scores are and how they work.

What Is A Credit Score?

Lenders or credit companies look at credit scores to assess whether you’re likely to be a reliable borrower. They want to know that if they lend you money, they are going to be repaid on time. Credit scores and credit files give an indication of your history of borrowing and your reliability.

It’s important to note that you don’t have one set credit score. They are created by credit reference agencies (CRAs). There are three main CRAs in the UK: Experian, Equifax and CallCredit.

While lenders should share information with all three of these CRAs, you might find that there are slight differences between each one that means your credit score varies. Each one will also use a different scale to create their ratings.

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Credit score vs credit file

A credit score is a number that indicates your reliability as a borrower. The CRA from which you request your credit score looks at your credit file and gives you a number based on the information found there. Your credit file is a record of your past loans and credit accounts, as well as other credit applications.

Equifax, one of the UK’s top three CRAs, says that they look at four main factors in your credit file to create your credit score:

  • Information on your credit report (such as credit cards) including how much of your available credit you use and your total debts

  • Credit account payment history

  • Credit searches (such as those completed during loan applications)

  • Public records (electoral roll and county court judgments)

Really, it’s the credit file and not the credit score that’s important, but your credit score helps you to understand whether your credit file looks good or needs to be improved.

Why is A Good Credit Score Important?

Having a good credit history helps you to secure loans and credit cards, as well as get the best deals on credit cards.

Credit cards can be helpful in spreading the cost of various things to make paying for them more affordable. At certain stages in your life, you might find you want to buy a car through monthly payments on car finance, or want to buy a house and need a mortgage. It’s important to have a good credit score in order to be approved for these loans.

Having a good credit score also increases your chances of being approved for short term loans. These are useful in circumstances when you’re temporarily tight on money, such as just before your first payday at a new job, and know that you’ll be able to pay back the loan shortly. Find out more information about short term loans with

What Is A Good Credit Score?

Some credit scores have a rating out of 999, but most range between 300-850. The higher your score, the better your credit. Generally the numbers can be graded as ‘excellent’, ‘good’, ‘fair’ or ‘poor’, but there is not a set number that fits into each range as different organisations vary on what they consider good and poor.

For example, Experian, one of the UK’s top three most used CRAs, provide credit scores out of 999:

  1. Excellent: 961 - 999

  2. Good: 881 - 960

  3. Fair: 721 - 880

  4. Poor: 561 - 720

  5. Very Poor: 0 - 560

Thin Credit

While you could have a bad or good credit score, you could also have a thin credit file. This means that you don’t have much information at all in your credit file so a bank or lender can’t tell whether or not you’re going to be a reliable borrower. Having a thin credit file can make it harder to access loans or credit cards.

You might have thin credit if you’re young or haven’t had any experience using credit previously. If you want to stand a better chance at getting a mortgage or another variety of loan, it’s a good idea to build up your credit file and history.

14 Tips To Improve Your Credit Score

In the same way that showing someone you’re trustworthy doesn’t happen overnight, improving your credit score takes time. However, there are some things you can do to improve your credit score.

1. Register For The Electoral Roll

You need to be registered on the electoral roll in order to vote, but it also helps to verify your identity, which is really important if you’re wanting to appear trustworthy to a lender. If you’re not already, make sure you register.

2. Add Proof Of Residency

If you’re not eligible to vote in the UK, it’s still important that lenders can verify your identity. Send proof of residency to all three credit rating agencies and ask them to verify it. This could be a copy of your driver’s license, utility bills or other official documentation.

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3. Check Your Credit Reports

Check your credit reports across all three CRAs and make sure there’s nothing there that shouldn’t be. If you spot something that’s wrong or inaccurate, make sure you report it so it can be corrected.

4. Make Payments On Time

The most significant way to improve your credit score is to ensure that you always make your credit card or loan payments on time. If you can show that you have a history of borrowing money and reliably repaying, then lenders will understand that you’re likely to be trustworthy for future loans.

5. Sign Up To Rental Exchange

If you’re a homeowner, paying your mortgage each month helps to improve your credit score. Experian have launched a scheme to help make it easier for tenants to get the same benefits. Their ‘rental exchange’ scheme allows regular rent payments to be added to your credit file. You can use one of Experian's partners, Credit Ladder or Canopy, to sign up.

It’s currently just your Experian credit file that this will affect, but it’s an easy way to harness the payments you’re already making to help improve your credit score.

Of course, this only works if you are always reliable on your rent payments. If you miss a payment, this is recorded and could count against you.

6. Build Credit History

If you have a thin credit file, getting a phone contract or opening a credit card can be a great way to improve your credit score as it shows that you can borrow money and pay it back reliably. It’s always best to start small. The best tip is to spend little and often on your credit card so you’re spending a small amount each month and paying it back every time.

It’s very important that you are aware of how credit cards work before using one. You should only borrow what you can afford to pay back to avoid getting into debt.

7. Stay Within Your Credit Limit

Every credit card will come with a limit on what you can borrow. When you first get a card, this is often much lower and it increases in time. It can harm your credit score to get too close to your credit limit. Experian recommend trying to use less than 25% a month of your credit limit: if you have a limit of £1000, try to use less than £250.

8. Watch For Credit Limit Increases

Where possible, it’s best to wait until your bank offers you an increase in your credit limit rather than asking. Asking for an increase can indicate to lenders that you’re in financial difficulty.

However, depending on your personal situation, it can still be beneficial to ask for an increase if you need one -- this will prevent you from frequently reaching your credit limit -- but try to wait at least 6 months after opening your card.

9. Close Old Lines of Credit

If you have old credit cards you no longer use or don’t use regularly, it’s best to close the accounts. Lenders still take these into consideration so it’s better to have a few well-maintained accounts than lots that aren’t used.

However, be careful with this as closing accounts will change your overall credit limit. If old accounts are no longer costing you money, you could consider keeping them open so your credit limit doesn’t change. Before closing accounts, consider if you’ll suddenly be coming much closer to your monthly limit -- as discussed in point 7!

10. Limit Loan & Credit Applications

Sometimes loans are unavoidable, but you should try to limit the number of times you apply for a loan in a short space of time. Lenders can see loan applications (although they can’t see whether or not you have been successful) and too many in a short period could indicate financial difficulties.

With this in mind, try to only apply for loans for which you are likely to be accepted. Read the lender’s criteria and only apply if you meet it.

The same applies to credit cards. When you apply for a credit card, a hard check is done on your credit file and this is recorded. Too many of these and it could indicate that you’re struggling financially which will negatively impact your score.

11. Update Addresses

If you have old credit accounts that hold old addresses, then it’s important that you update these or close the accounts. If you have credit accounts with the wrong address, it can lead to rejections in loan applications, including mortgages. Not only is this a hassle, it might mean you need to reapply again and too many applications can affect your credit score.

This can happen if you have an old phone contract or credit card that is technically still open even if it’s no longer in use. You might not think to update the address, but a check on your credit report will still flag it as part of the ID check and could result in a rejected application.

12. Prevent bankruptcies, CCJs and IVAs

These can have a serious impact upon your credit score, so where possible try to prevent them from happening. If you have experienced bankruptcy, a CCJ or an IVA, then make sure you work to resolve it as soon as you can. If you’re struggling and think you might come into trouble soon, you should always seek help.

13. Keep Financial Responsibilities Separate

The only information that appears on your credit report is your own. Even if you’re married, your spouse’s information isn’t included. However, if you’re financially linked to someone on any product, then this could appear on your report.

For example, if you and your housemate have a joint bill (in both of your names) then that information will be included on your report. If they’re unreliable with paying bills, it could affect your credit score. Try to keep financial responsibility seperate where possible if there’s a risk that the other person is unreliable or has bad credit.

There are only four examples of this: a joint mortgage, joint loan or joint bank account (except savings accounts), and, in certain circumstances, utility bills.

If you move out, or otherwise separate financial responsibility, then once the accounts are closed or seperated, you should ask the credit reference agencies for a notice of disassociation to ensure that the other person’s credit history is no longer linked to yours.

14. Have Patience!

Finally, one of the most important tips is to be patient! It takes time to build up a good credit history or repair a bad credit file. If you’re serious about improving your credit score, then you need to be prepared to be patient. In time, you should see your credit score improve!