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How to check your credit score

Having a good credit score is important, as credit providers use it to see how financially responsible you are when you apply with them. As a rule of thumb, the higher your score, the more likely it is your application will be accepted.

But not everyone is clued up on their credit score. To stop yours being a financial mystery, dive into our guide below.

How is my credit score worked out?

Your credit score is a number created by credit reference agencies. Each agency has a different scoring system, which they apply to information held on your credit file. Providers use this information to create an assessment of your credit worthiness, to help predict the likelihood of you paying credit back.

The type of information your credit score is based on includes:

  • Electoral roll: lenders see being registered to vote as a good thing, so check online if you’re unsure whether you are or not.
  • Borrowing history: this is a list of all your active and settled credit agreements with banks, utility providers and some insurance companies, and how you’ve paid them.
  • Credit searches: when you apply for credit, a record of the credit check (or search) is usually made. Outcomes or whether you took out the financial product aren’t recorded, but too many searches in a short period of time can be a red flag for providers.
  • Linked data: this highlights other people you’re financially connected to, like a partner you have a joint account or mortgage with.
  • Public court records: bad debts, like County Court Judgements (CCJs), bankruptcies or other court-imposed debt orders, will seriously hamper your chances of obtaining credit.


Every lender has its own credit scoring policy and measures information differently, so there’s no universal credit score they all use. One thing they do have in common though, is trying to predict your financial behaviour. Lenders only really want to give credit to those who’ve shown they’re good at managing their financial commitments.

Why should I check my credit rating?

Knowing your credit score before you make a credit card or loan application is important. You could reduce your risk of rejection and increase your chances of getting access to credit. Checking your credit score also means you can see any errors on your credit file. Correcting anything that’s inaccurate is critical, as it could stand in the way of future applications being approved.

A few simple steps you can take are:

  • Ensure your address held by your credit providers is up to date.
  • Making sure your details are correct.
  • Disputing any late payments that shouldn’t be there.


Staying on top of your credit score can also help protect you from identity theft and fraud. Look for any suspicious transactions and activity – if you spot anything out of the ordinary or there are any errors, you’ll need to contact the provider straightaway to look into it for you.

How do I check my credit score?

In the UK there are 3 main credit reference agencies used by credit providers to help them decide whether or not to approve your application for credit, so you should check your credit score with them all.

Under the Consumer Credit Act of 1974, everyone has the right to view their credit reports held by these agencies. They have to provide you with a ‘statutory report’ that might have a small fee. You can also access your credit report online or order a paper copy, using a downloadable postal form or by writing to the credit reference agencies.

These agencies are:

  1. Experian 
    Their free CreditMatcher service gives you your Experian credit score and your eligibility rating. CreditExpert is Experian’s paid-for credit report service. It’s free for the first 30 days, after which there’s a monthly fee.

    Visit Experian website

  2. Equifax 
    Sign up to Equifax to access your credit report and score online. Similar to Experian, you can get a free 30-day trial. You’ll need to pay for the service after that.

    Visit Equifax website

  3. TransUnion
    You can get a free one-off statutory report, or sign up to Credit Karma for a free monthly credit report.

    Visit TransUnion website


There are many other online products and services available where you can check and analyse your credit report. However, they might come with a price tag.

Good to know: you can check your own credit score as often as you like without any impact. A search footprint’s created that’s not counted during credit score calculations. As your credit reports are updated regularly, it’s a good idea to check your credit score at least once a year, although you can do it more regularly using the services above.

Understanding and improving your credit score

To get an idea of what a good credit score looks like, the table below is based on Experian’s scoring system. Once you’ve looked at your own credit score, you’ll have a better idea of the likelihood of your application being approved.

Experian credit score rating

Credit score

Rating

Credit score

0 to 560

Rating

Very poor

Credit score

561 to 720

Rating

Poor

Credit score

721 to 880

Rating

Fair

Credit score

881 to 960

Rating

Good

Credit score

961 to 999

Rating

Excellent

There’s no quick way to improve your score if you find it isn’t as good as you expected. However, there are plenty of ways you can improve it over the longer term, including:

  • Not missing payments and staying within agreed credit limits.
  • Registering to vote.
  • Closing accounts you don’t use anymore.
  • Reducing the amount of credit you owe.


Check out our guide on how to improve your credit score.

If you’ve been turned down when applying for credit

Your credit score will be affected by a declined application, as well as lots of credit applications in a short period, so it’s probably not a good idea to try again straightaway.

Learn more, including how to appeal a decision, by reading our guide to why an application might be turned down.

If you’ve completed a credit card eligibility check, like our own Clever Check, the good news is it doesn’t affect your credit score, as it only does a ‘quotation search’ rather than a full credit application search.

Of course you’re welcome to check your eligibility with us anytime, but it’d make sense to check your credit rating first to make sure there’s nothing that’d stand in your way.

Important: the content on this page is not intended to be taken as financial advice or recommendation made by MBNA. You should seek financial advice if unsure about your credit needs.