Why is your credit score so important?

Nov 15, 2011 |

When you apply for any kind of credit (credit cards, loans, mortgage, some use before you pay services etc) a variety of personal information will be used by the lender to determine whether they will give you the credit you require. Of these factors, the two most important are your income, and your credit history. Therefore, before you apply for any kind of credit check out your credit file (and seek professional help, if required).

You can get free[1] access to your credit files from the 3 main credit reference agencies by following the links below.

Free Experian credit report Free Equifax credit report Free Callcredit credit report

Alternatively, if you do not want to apply for a free 30 days subscription to see you credit file, then you can pay for a copy of your credit file by applying to the credit reference agency. All credit reference agencies are required to provide you with a statutory credit file, for which they are allowed to charge a small administration fee (£2 at the time of writing). You will have to pay each agency the fee to get a copy of their own version of the statutory credit file, as each agency holds their own sets of data about you.

So, what exactly is so important about your credit record?

First of all your credit file, credit record and credit history are basically three different terms/names for the same thing, a record of how you have been managing your financial affairs.

Lenders use credit files to determine how credit worthy you are and whether they believe you are trust worthy enough to lend to. Essentially, they use your credit history to make an assumption about whether you will abide by the terms of their credit agreement, based on your past performance with credit.

Each company has their own (closely guarded) credit scoring criteria, as there is no universal credit ratings system in use. Therefore, each lender scores you based on its ‘perfect customer’ wish list. That said, they will all pretty much look to see:

  • How much debt you currently have
  • Whether you are making the agreed payments on (or before) the due date
  • How many times you have been late in making the agreed payments
  • How many times you have failed to make the agreed payments
  • How many other companies you have applied to for credit
  • Whether you have any County Court judgements against you
  • Whether you have any bankruptcy and/or administration orders against you
  • If you have had any house repossessions in the past
  • Whether you are on the electoral register

Note: The above is not a definitive list. It is provided to give you a general idea on the types of information lenders will look at when deciding whether to offer you a mortgage, or not.

[1] Terms and conditions apply. When signing up to a trail subscription you will be required to provide your credit card details. You will have to cancel the subscription before the trail period finishes to avoid being charged a monthly subscription fee. Ensure you view and understand each Credit Reference Agency’s terms and conditions before signing up.

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