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What is a good credit score?

Your credit score really matters when it comes to being accepted for a credit card, loan or mortgage application. There could be a lot riding on those digits.

So, what is a good credit score? Well, there’s no real magic number because it depends on each lender’s individual scoring system. But the general rule is the higher your score with the credit reference agencies, the more chance you’ve got of being accepted for credit.

What counts as a good credit score, varies between the UK’s consumer credit reference agencies. The main ones, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion all have their own scoring systems. For Experian, anything over 881 is classed as good or excellent. For Equifax it’s anything above 420, and for TransUnion it’s 604 and over.

Lenders never actually see your credit score. It’s an assessment the credit reference agencies put together based on your credit file. Your score gives you an idea of how lenders might see you, but lenders also form their own assessment based on the information they receive.

The information lenders use when deciding whether to give you credit includes:

  • Your borrowing history (for example, how you pay your existing credit cards, loans and mortgages).
  • Public court records (whether you have any county court judgements or other adverse information in your name).
  • Linked financial data (if you have a joint account with someone else –how they manage their credit could affect you).

A good credit score isn’t the only thing lenders look at when you make an application. They all have their own guidelines and criteria when assessing applicants to make a final decision.

What does my credit score mean?

A good credit score depends on the credit reference agency. Once you have received your credit report, agencies such as Experian, Equifax and TransUnion all make it pretty easy to tell whether or not you’ve got a good credit score. They each use a visual scale, with bands that range from very poor to excellent. Once you know your score, you can see where you sit on the scale. Here’s an example from Experian:

Experian credit score

Score

Rating

What it means

961-999

Excellent

There’s no guarantee, but you’re very likely to be accepted for the most competitive credit card or loan offers.

881-960

Good

You’re more likely to have your credit card or loan application accepted, but won’t necessarily be offered the most competitive offers or rates.

721-880

Fair

The interest rates you’ll get offered will be reasonable, but the amount offered to borrow could be quite low.

561-720

Poor

You stand a chance of being accepted for a credit card or loan, but it might come with a high interest rate.

0-560

Very poor

If you’re in this category, it’s likely your credit card or loan application will be rejected.


Now you know how the credit scoring system works, the next step is to find out how to check your credit score.

If you already know your score, or discover it’s not as good as you thought, there are plenty of things you can do to take it up a notch. From registering on the electoral roll to simplifying your balances, check out all the ways to improve your credit score with our handy guide.

Most of us will need to apply for credit at some point, so it’s important to know your credit score and manage your finances to keep it healthy. That’ll boost your chances of being approved in future.

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.