What Is A Credit Score? - Help and Advice
When you apply for credit, responsible lenders want to make sure you can comfortably afford to manage any new borrowing. To do so, they usually calculate a credit score, weighing up all the relevant information at their disposal. This helps them to assess the chances that you will be able to repay what you owe.
People with a high score are usually seen as lower risk, and are therefore more likely to be granted credit - and possibly at better rates.
How lenders calculate your score
Lenders calculate a credit score using information from several sources - these can include:
- Your credit report - The information on your past credit history as well as information that confirms your identity.
- Credit application - The lender will ask for further information on your credit application, for instance, why you need to borrow the money, your job and your income.
- Past information - If you’re an existing customer, they may use the information they already know about you.
Credit scores do not take account of gender, religion, race or ethnic origin.
Different lenders give different credit scores
Because lenders have different past experiences and expectations, they take different factors into consideration and can even score the same factors differently. The same lender may even, for example, score a mortgage application differently to a credit card.
Credit scores change over time, as your circumstances change. For example, paying off a loan could result in a higher credit score, while missing several repayments could reduce it. It's always a good idea to check your credit report before applying for credit. You may spot areas you can improve upon.
There is no magic number
Just as lenders use their own formula when calculating a credit score, they also set different thresholds for accepting an application. These thresholds can vary according to the type of credit you want, so you could be accepted for an overdraft or mobile phone account but have a request for a car loan refused.
Lenders specialising in, for instance, lower-income customers may grant someone credit when another bank refuses.
One of the best ways to stay in control of your finances is to check your Experian credit report with Experian CreditExpert*.
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