What is a credit score? 

Your credit score gives lenders a snapshot of how you manage credit, like credit cards, loans, and mortgages.

A ‘credit score’ is generated for you by UK credit reference agencies based on information held about you on public records, and supplied by credit and service providers.  

Your credit score is then shown as a number. In basic terms, the higher your score, the more likely you are to be approved for credit, as it’s a reflection of how likely you are to repay any borrowing. Your credit score isn’t fixed and can change as your financial situation does.

In the UK, there are three main credit   reference agencies. They might each hold different information about you and have different ways of working out a credit score for you. Individual lenders and service providers might use their own scoring systems too, which may include looking at information  from your credit record. They may also take into account what you can afford and how you have paid previous accounts.

What is a credit score used for?

When you apply for a credit card or personal loan, for example, your credit record might be checked - or searched - by whoever you’re applying with. They’ll use their preferred credit reference agencies to do this, which will show them the potential risk of offering you credit.

Your credit record might also be used by lenders or service providers to decide what interest rate, loan amount, or credit limit to offer you. 

Do lenders check anything else?

Your details

This usually includes your address, employment status, income and regular expenses. 


Whether you can repay a new facility on top of your current outgoings.

Account history

Were previous accounts held by you managed well?

How to check your credit score and report

Checking your score and what information’s held about you before you apply for credit is always sensible. Get a copy of your file from the three UK credit reference agencies below to get a full picture, and if you notice anything reporting incorrectly, you can submit a data dispute to the relevant agency. They’ll then investigate it and update their records.


The Agencies MBNA use are:








You can also check Your Credit Score with MBNA

What does your credit score mean?

The higher your credit score is, the better your chances of being accepted are when applying for credit. But what does your credit score actually mean with each credit reference agency?  


Here are some examples of scoring from the main credit reference agencies MBNA use:




Needs some work

Needs work


628 - 710


604 - 627


586 - 603

Needs some work

551 - 585

Needs work

0 - 550

These could be different to the score lenders and service providers give you, as they also look at other information from your credit record and the details you provide them. However, your credit score is usually a fairly reliable indicator of your current financial position.

How is your credit score calculated?

Credit reference agencies use information from many sources. These include:

The electoral register - Sometimes known as the electoral roll or voters roll, being registered on this helps confirm your identity and home address, and is one way to help to improve your credit score.

Court records - Adverse information like defaults, County Court Judgements (CCJs), Individual Voluntary Agreements (IVAs) and bankruptcies can impact    your credit score for up to six years. 

Lenders and service providers - How well you manage or have managed accounts, and how much credit you’ve used or can use, can impact your credit score. You might think this just means things like mortgages, credit cards, and loans, but store cards, mobile phone contracts, TV subscriptions, and other household bills   might also be included.

More on calculating credit scores

Improving your credit score

It might take a while, but these are some of the things you can do that might improve your credit score. 

  • Pay your credit repayments, utility, and other household bills on time 
  • Stay below your credit limits and try to reduce outstanding balances 
  • Restrict how many applications for credit you make in a short space of time 
  • Register to vote

More on improving your credit score

A quick recap

Here’s what you’ve learnt about credit scores. 

  • Credit scores are recorded by UK credit reference agencies. 
  • Checking your credit record is usually part of lenders' and service providers’ decision-making process when you apply for credit. 
  • A good credit score usually means you’re more likely to be offered favourable interest rates and credit limits. 
  • A lower score can make you a higher risk for lenders, as it could mean you haven’t managed credit in the past or have made some mistakes.  
  • Improving your score might possible over time, if you manage accounts well and don’t make too many new credit applications. 
  • Credit reference agencies can hold differing information about you, so check your credit scores and reports with TransUnion, Experian and Equifax

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 improve your score. 
  • Find out how your score compares to the UK average.

More on Your Credit Score