- Less than half of Brits (46%) know exactly what a credit score is
- Over two in five (41%) do not know their personal score
- TSB offers guidance on managing your credit score
New research from TSB has found that many Brits do not understand credit scores and their potential impact on accessing financial products. Over a third of respondents (36%) said that they thought they knew what a credit score is but were not sure of the details while nearly one in five (18%) said that they did not know what it is. More than two in five (41%) did not know their score.
Credit scores influence most aspects of people’s financial lives and a poor score can reduce your chances of securing a financial product such as a credit card, phone contract or mortgage. TSB’s research showed that this was the case for nearly a quarter of people (24%), who were refused credit due to a low score.
Credit scores are often shrouded with confusion, with many common misbeliefs, for example:
- Nearly half (47%) of people did not know the difference between a hard credit check and a soft credit check. But a ‘soft check’ doesn’t leave a record on your credit file and comparing offers or using an eligibility checker doesn’t impact your score.
- Almost a quarter of people (23%) believe that getting married won’t impact your score. However, a couple’s credit history may impact each other regardless of whether they are married or not, particularly where they have joint credit accounts.
- Over a quarter (27%) of Brits were unsure if all/most Brits have a credit score. If you have a UK address, then it’s likely you have a credit score.
- Nearly one in five Brits (18%) said that checking your credit score frequently can have a negative impact on your overall credit score. In fact, checking your credit score does not have a negative impact on your rating.
On average, Brits only become aware of their credit rating at age 33, which is just one year ahead of the average age of first-time buyers*, who would need a strong score to secure a mortgage.
Having a sound knowledge of what credit ratings mean and how to improve them can help when you’re applying for everyday financial products, including:
- Securing a mortgage or a loan
- Applying for a credit card
- Setting up a mobile phone contract
A poor credit rating may prevent you from obtaining credit through a loan or credit cards. TSB has partnered with ‘LOQBOX’ to provide UK consumers with alternative options to build their credit history that doesn’t rely on spending and paying off debt but instead building their savings.
Pella Frost, TSB Director of Everyday Banking said:
“Your credit score impacts so many aspects of everyday life, yet many aren’t familiar with it. Understanding more about it can you help you become more money confident and it will improve your chances of gaining access to credit when you need it.”
TSB provides guidance on managing your credit score
1. What is it?
If you’re not familiar already, understanding what a credit score is will help in the long run. A credit score is an assessment of how likely it is you would be able to repay money that you borrow. Different agencies have their own ways of calculating a score which is usually shown as a three figure rating. Lenders, such as banks, use this information to assess whether you are financially secure to borrow money and if you will be able to pay it back. A higher credit score means companies see you as a lower risk, so you’re more likely to be approved for credit and could have access to lower interest rate products.
2. Check, check, check
Checking your credit score has no negative impact on your record. In the UK there are a number of credit agencies including Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. They all offer advice and they can also help check your credit score, usually for free. It’s also a good opportunity to double check that there are no errors on your file; if there are, you can get them fixed. You can access your Experian credit score through a free Experian account or Equifax offers a free 30-day trial of its full credit monitoring service. Alternatively, you can access your TransUnion report and score for free via its Credit Karma service.
3. Build your credit history
There is a common misconception that no credit means a good credit score. Having little or no credit history can make it difficult for credit agencies to assess you, and your credit score may be lower as a result. However, building a credit history (e.g. having a credit card) will show lenders that you’re a reliable borrower. But remember, don’t apply for too much credit at the same, keep your usage low and avoid spending to the limit, make repayments on time and pay more than the minimum amount back.
When you apply for credit, a check is usually updated on your file. However, it’s worth noting that if you’re shopping around for financial products, you can usually use an eligibility checker, which uses a ‘soft check’ – meaning they only do a quick look at your credit report and it won’t affect your credit score.
4. Prove who you are and where you live
By simply registering for the electoral roll at your current address, you are proving where you live and who you are. It takes five minutes and helps improve your credit score; Register to vote - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
5. Talk about it
If you’re not sure where to start, there are many tools available online or over the phone to understand more about credit files, how to manage them and build a better record. Speak to your bank or Money Advice Service for more information. Credit reference agencies like Experian and TransUnion can also assist.
Avni Raval | Media Relations Manager, TSB
T: 07880 276 391 / 020 7003 9369 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow us on twitter: @TSB_News
Notes to editors
- Research conducted by Opinium Research, who surveyed 2,000 adults between 18th – 22nd June 2021
- *Source: Money.co.uk - https://www.money.co.uk/guides/first-time-buyers-around-the-world
- More information on TSB Partnership with Loqbox can be found here: TSB partners with start-up 'LOQBOX' to help people build their credit history by saving instead of spending
- In June, TSB launched it’s first money confidence barometer: One in three Brits have low or no confidence in their financial abilities (tsb.co.uk)
TSB is a UK retail bank with a trusted customer brand and heritage stretching back to the start of the savings bank movement 200 years ago. TSB offers full retail banking to more than five million customers, online, digitally, via phone and through our branch network. In August last year we launched our Do What Matters Plan, which commits to creating social and environmental, as well as economic value.