A credit check builds a picture of your financial history. 

Credit checks or searches are used by lenders and companies when you apply for credit. They will usually check your credit report to help build a snapshot of your financial history, as part of their assessment of your credit application. 

A credit report is your history of your borrowing and how you manage your finances. How well you’ve managed debts, for example, is recorded on your credit report.

There are two kinds of credit checks:

A soft credit check

This is an initial look at certain information on your credit report. Soft credit checks are usually used for things like quotes and eligibility searches. So they may be used when: 

  • A lender wants to check your eligibility.
  • A potential employer needs to verify your identity.
  • You get a home or car insurance quote.
  • You want to check your own credit score

A soft check won’t affect your credit report.

You can have lots of soft credit checks on your credit report without it affecting any applications for credit, which means you can shop around for the best offers.

A full credit check

A full credit check is considered a ‘hard’ credit check. This means companies will make a complete search of your credit report, and they will also see any other applications you have made for credit. Full credit checks are usually made when: 

  • You make a full application for things like  a mortgage, a credit card or a loan. 
  • You take out finance, for example on a car or a sofa.
  • You open a new account, like a mobile phone contract or a service for a household bill. 

When you have lots of full credit checks in quick succession this can impact your applications for credit. Full credit checks can stay on your credit report for up to 24 months, depending on the credit reference agency. 

What else can affect my credit score?

There are three main credit reference agencies in the UK and they usually have their own scoring systems. They calculate a person's credit score based on the information on their credit report.

Lenders will also have their own scoring systems that they use as part of the assessment of credit.

Depending on how the credit reference agency or lender calculates your score, you’ll usually score higher and be more successful with applications for credit if:

  • You’ve managed previous borrowing well.
  • You have a mortgage.
  • You are registered to vote. 

How you might be able to improve your credit score

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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. 
  • Understand 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