What is a good or bad credit score?

The first thing to say here is that there’s not one individual score classed as ‘good’ when it comes to your credit score.


This is because there are three main credit reference agencies in the UK, who each use their own scoring system. They use similar things when generating your credit score though, like info from the electoral register, court records, and details about accounts held with lenders and other service providers.


Any recent credit applications, existing borrowing, and late or missed payments can all affect your score too.


More about credit scores

What counts as a good credit score?

Generally speaking, the higher your credit score is, the better your likelihood is of being accepted when you apply for credit. 

Of course, a good credit score doesn’t guarantee acceptance as lenders and service providers might also check details you give on your application, what you can afford, and past account history. However, a good credit score is a useful way of gauging your current financial position. 

Here are the three main credit reference agencies’ score ratings:




Needs some work

Needs work


628 - 710


604 - 627


586 - 603

Needs some work

551 - 585

Needs work

0 - 550

What are the benefits of a good credit score? 

  • The higher your credit score is, the more likely it is for a credit application to be accepted 
  • You’re more likely to be offered the most favourable and lowest interest rates

What are the disadvantages of a bad credit score? 

  • You might not be offered the credit limit you need
  • It might mean you can’t get a job in some sectors, like legal or financial services 

How to check your credit score and report

Checking your score and what information is held about you before you apply for credit is always sensible. Get a copy of your file from all three UK credit reference agencies below to get a full picture. And if you notice anything reported incorrectly, you could submit a data dispute to the relevant agency. They’ll then investigate with the lender. If the lender confirms an error has been made, they can correct it. 

The three main UK credit reference agencies are:




You can also check Your Credit Score with MBNA

person using mobile device

How is your credit score worked out?

Credit reference agencies collect information from a number of 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 could help to improve your credit score.

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

Lenders and service providers - How well you manage or have managed accounts, including any missed payments or defaults and how much credit you’ve used or can use, might impact your credit score. This might include store cards, mobile phone contracts, TV subscriptions, and other household bills, as well as mortgages, credit cards, and loans.

More about calculating credit scores

Improving your credit score

It might take a while, but these are some of the things you can do to 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 credit applications you make in a short space of time
  • Register to vote

More on improving your credit score

Do lenders check anything else?

Your details

This might include your address, employment status, income and regular expenses.


They usually check whether you can afford to repay new credit on top of your current outgoings.

Account history

Lenders usually keep records of accounts you've held with them in the past and how well they were managed.

A quick recap

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

  • Credit scores are generated 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 bad credit score might mean you have limited experience of managing finances, or you’ve had credit issues in the past, which could make you a higher risk for lenders. 
  • Improving your score might be possible over time, if you manage accounts well and don’t make too many 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 to improve your score. 
  • Find out how your score compares to the UK average.

More on Your Credit Score