What is a credit score and why do I need it?

11 July 2019

Question by Cameron

What is a credit score and why do I need it?

Answered by Holly Mackay

A credit score is a magic number that is used by lenders to assess how reliable you are as a borrower. This number is SUPPOSED to indicate your likelihood of paying back debt on time, which lenders obviously want you to do (otherwise they don’t get back the money they lent you or they have a right hassle trying to get it back.)

It works on the basis (rightly or wrongly) that what has happened in your past is likely to happen in the future – so if you have shown a proven track record of responsible borrowing, lenders will feel you’re a safe pair of hands and are more likely to approve you for credit.

The higher your credit score, the more likely you are to get approved – whether that’s a mortgage, a credit card or a personal loan. Moreover, you’re also likely to get favourable terms for that credit as you’ll have a greater choice of products (which often means lower interest rates on your repayments, making the whole deal far cheaper in the long-term.) The lower the number, the more borrowers will think twice about accepting you for credit.

Unfortunately, it can be damaging to make 'hard' applications for credit only to get rejected. These rejections show up on your credit file and make it even harder to get approved. It’s vital, therefore, that you persuade lenders to do a ‘’soft’’ credit search on your behalf wherever possible as the results will not be passed onto other lenders when they search you.

Each lender will put together its own credit score for you behind closed doors. Each lender will score you differently based broadly on three criteria; past dealings with you (if any), application information AND your credit file. This might all seem very secretive and furtive, but the good news is that you CAN see your credit file by registering with a credit reference service like Experian, Equifax and Noddle.

Answered by

Holly Mackay

Founder and CEO of Boring Money

I’ve worked in investment markets for over 20 years. I started out at Merrill Lynch Investment Management and worked at a few big names before setting up my first business in 2008.