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Was I refused credit because I’m new to the UK?


Dear James,


I have recently been declined for a Santander account and was told I could contact Experian for an explanation as the decision was based on credit rating. I recently moved to the UK from Jamaica so I am wondering if this is one reason. I have downloaded a credit report form to send through the post but any answer you can give me until then will be appreciated. 


Rodney, recently from Jamaica


Dear Rodney,

Sorry to hear about your unsuccessful application. Most lenders use credit scoring (also called credit rating) to automatically assess your application based on the information available about your financial circumstances, particularly on your credit report. There’s a good chance your credit report is a bit on the thin side at the moment because you’ve only recently arrived in the UK. A blank credit report worries most lenders because it offers no evidence you can be trusted to manage credit responsibly. So your challenge is to build up a credit profile to support future applications.

Assuming you are eligible, start by getting onto your local council’s electoral roll. This helps lenders confirm your name and address and can affect your credit score. If you aren’t eligible to vote, arrange for a note to be added to your credit report explaining this. You’ll have to order a copy of your credit report first though – and I suggest you do this with all three credit reference agencies – and then get back in touch providing the statement you’d like to attach to your report. Expect to be asked to provide proof of ID before your reports are despatched to you - credit reference agencies have to make sure reports go to the genuine person. Your next job is to look for some credit ‘easy wins’ – ideally products aimed at people with poor credit ratings. A basic bank account comes with no overdraft facility so doesn’t normally involve a credit check at all. You can then start to build up a relationship with that bank, which may eventually offer you credit.

There are also a range of ‘bad credit credit cards’ on the market for people with low credit ratings. If you get one of these and use it, even just a little bit, each month and repay the balance in full, it will start to build up your credit history. A mobile phone contract might then be an option, adding further positive information to your credit report and boosting your credit rating further still. After that you’re likely to be seen as an attractive proposition by most lenders, especially the bank. Good luck.

James Sign

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