A new analysis has revealed that people in Kingston upon Thames have the highest average credit scores in the country – while those in Sunderland have the lowest.
According to credit ratings company ClearScore, the UK’s average credit score has risen from 346 to 380 over the past year. But results vary depending on the local area.
What do these scores actually mean and how much attention should you be paying to yours?
Which? takes a look at the postcodes with the best and worst credit scores, and considers why managing your score is important for getting credit.
Highest average credit scores
By analysing more than five million customers over the past year, ClearScore generated a list of postcodes with the highest and lowest average credit scores.
Postcodes in the south of England made up the majority of the highest ranking areas for credit scores.
Kingston upon Thames claimed top spot for the second year running, with residents holding an average credit score of 400.16.
Residents in Lerwick came in second with an average credit score of 395.96 – maintaining the same position as in 2016.
See our map below for the top 10 around the UK.
Find out more: credit scores explained.
Lowest average credit scores
ClearScore’s analysis revealed that the postcodes in the North West made up the majority of the lowest ranking areas for credit scores.
Sunderland maintained last place, with residents holding an average credit score of 318.31.
Similarly, residents in Kilmarnock held on to the second-to-last place with an average credit score of 319.68.
Below, our map shows the 10 districts with the lowest average credit scores.
- Find out more: why do I have a bad credit score?
How does your credit score compare?
The table below shows the average credit scores for more than 120 towns and cities across the UK.
Certain locations that are available below were not included in ClearScore’s Top 10 rankings above, as there were not enough customers to create an accurate average.
Find out how your credit score compares by searching the table.
- Find out more: credit reports: all you need to know.
What is a credit score?
A credit score (or credit rating) is a tool used by lenders to decide whether you qualify for certain financial products, such as credit cards, loans or mortgages.
The world of credit scores can be quite confusing, as each lender has its own system in place to decide whether or not to accept you as a customer.
So while you could be rejected by one bank, you might be successful with another for a very similar product.
Credit reference agencies can help you get an idea of how your application might be viewed by lenders.
By analysing your financial history, they generate a score to rate your creditworthiness. But confusingly, each credit reference agency uses a different scale – so for example, a score of 560 is ‘very poor’ with Experian but ‘excellent’ with Equifax.
The general rule of thumb is that the higher your credit rating, the higher your chances of getting the best credit deals. But it’s important to remember that having a high credit score doesn’t guarantee that your application will be successful.
- Find out more: how to check your credit score for free.
Can I improve my credit score?
If you’ve been rejected for credit or are concerned that your credit history could stop you from getting a credit card or loan, don’t lose hope.
Here are a few steps you can take to improve your credit worthiness.
1) Check your credit report and correct mistakes
Occasionally, errors slip into your credit history, bringing down your score through no fault of your own.
Try to look at your credit report at least once a year to make sure that the information it contains is correct.
If you notice any mistakes, contact the agency to have them rectified as soon as possible.
2) Enrol to vote
Registering to vote can help improve your credit score. Not being on the electoral roll makes it very difficult for you to get credit.
Lenders use this information to confirm that you live at the address given on your application, and trace other financial products back to you.
Registering to vote is easy and can be done at any time through the Register to vote website.
3) Think carefully before applying for new credit
Making an application for credit will leave a ‘footprint’ on your credit file, which is visible to other lenders.
If you’ve been turned down for credit, it’s best to hold off on applying for another credit based product for a while. Multiple applications over a short period of time could suggest to lenders that you are in financial difficulty.
To avoid having a rejection recorded on your history, try using an eligibility calculator (which doesn’t affect your credit score) to see how likely you are to be accepted.
4) Build a good credit history
You can improve your credit score by building up a history of prompt repayment and responsible credit usage.
This can be done by repaying your loans on time and staying within your credit limit.
If you’ve never borrowed money before, you may find it difficult to get access to loans and credit cards – especially those with the cheapest rates.
One solution is to take out a credit card specifically designed to help you build (or rebuild) your credit history.
Check out our short video for more tips and take a look at our guide on how to improve your credit score for more information.