How can a credit card help your score?

1. It can show you have available credit 

Credit reference agencies check how much credit you have available and how much you’ve used. This is your credit utilisation ratio. It can help to be using less than 25% of your available credit.

2. It builds up your borrowing history

Every lender wants a responsible borrower. If you show you can manage credit well over time, it may help your score. Having an account for a long time may suggest you are financially stable.

How can a credit card bring down your score?

1. If you miss payments

Making payments on time shows lenders that you are a responsible borrower. If you miss or make late payments this is usually recorded on your credit report and can decrease your score. You could set up a Direct Debit or standing order to manage regular payments, just remember to ensure you have funds available.

2. If you go over your credit limit

Going over your agreed credit limit on things like credit cards, store cards and arranged overdrafts suggests that you could be reliant on credit and may decrease your score. Being over your credit limit could suggest that you’re struggling with money.

3. If you have a high debit balance

If you’ve got a lot of debt and are close to agreed credit limits, it can suggest to lenders that you are reliant on credit and can also affect your credit utilisation ratio. This may bring your credit score down.

4. Hard credit searches

When you make a full application for credit, a hard credit search is usually carried out. Making too many full applications in a short space of time can impact your credit score. An eligibility check or a quote will usually only involve a soft search and shouldn't impact your credit score.


If you’re thinking about applying for credit cards, try checking your eligibility before making a full application.

Top tips for managing your credit card

  • Make payments on time. You could be charged if you don’t make payments on time or if you go over your agreed credit limit. You could also lose promotional or introductory interest rates. 
  • Stay on budget. Only borrow what you can afford to repay and pay off at least the minimum payment every month. 
  • Check your interest rate. You’ll pay interest on what you borrow, unless you have a 0% promotional rate, or you pay off the balance in full every month. 

What happens if I close a credit card account?

Closing your credit card accounts can lower your credit score in the short-term for two main reasons:

  1. It can increase your credit utilisation ratio;
  2. Shortens how long you've held accounts for.

Reasons you might want to close your account

Your score may dip temporarily, so, it’s worth weighing up if you want to close your account to help you to:

  • Keep track of your money
  • Limit your spending
  • Reduce the potential for fraud
  • Switch to a different credit card more suited to your needs.

What are the benefits of a high credit score?

  • You’re more likely to be accepted for things like credit cards, mortgages, personal loans, arranged overdrafts and car finance. 
  • You’re more likely to be offered lower and longer-lasting interest rates. 
  • You’re more likely to be offered higher credit limits. 
More on credit scores Read more on credit scores

A quick recap

Here’s what you’ve learnt about how credit cards can impact your credit score. 

  • The higher your score, the more options and better deals are likely to be available to you. 
  • Don’t spend more than you can afford to repay and always make payments on time. 
  • Missed and late payments, being overly dependent on credit and high debit balances can all lower your credit score. 

Other factors can also impact your credit score as well as how you manage your credit card. 

What can affect my credit score?

Keep reading

Know where you stand with MBNA

Sign up for ‘Your Credit Score’. We’ve partnered with TransUnion to provide you with access to your credit score. It’s free to use and won’t impact your credit file.

  • View your updated credit score every 28 days.
  • See what you’re doing well. 
  • Understnad what you can do that might help to improve your score. 
  • Find out how your score compares to the UK average.

More on Your Credit Score