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24 Apr 2019

Do you live in an area with the worst credit scores?

Is your credit score at risk?
woman with credit card and laptop

One in four credit card applicants in Scotland could have credit card applications declined because of avoidable errors, according to new research from price comparison site comparethemarket.com.

More than £70bn is owed on credit cards in the UK, and the price comparison site suggests that many risk damaging their credit score due to a huge lack of awareness about credit scoring.

This echoes Which?'s own research, which has found that people have been prevented from borrowing money or even renting a property due to credit problems.

Around 55% of Brits don't know what their credit score is and 43% have no idea how to improve it, found comparethemarket.com.

As a result, many are unintentionally harming their credit score and risk not being accepted for financial products like credit cards, loans and mortgages in the future.

Here, we reveal how borrowers are putting their credit scores at risk and give tips on how to improve your credit score.

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Credit score blind spots

When it comes to credit scores, it turns out that the vast majority of borrowers are in the dark about how they actually work.

For example, as many as 90% of Brits don't know that closing their credit card could negatively impact their credit score and 17% are unaware that a late bill payment could also bring down your credit score.

Having a poor credit score can dramatically impact the chances of you being accepted for financial products such as credit cards, loans and mortgages.

Around a fifth (19%) of adults in the UK have had their credit card application declined and the most common reason why lenders reject credit card applications is having a poor credit history.

In fact, 57% of people who have had their credit card application declined were due to their low credit score.

Scotland is the worst region for credit card applications, and 23% of credit card applicants are likely to be declined.

Whereas the East Midlands is the most likely area for credit card applications to be approved with only 13% of lenders rejecting applications.

The table below shows which regions you're most likely to have your credit card application declined.

Region% of rejections
North West21%
West Midlands21%
Yorkshire & Humberside20%
South East20%

Read our comprehensive investigation credit scoring: are you in the dark? for expert analysis about how your credit score impacts your financial decisions.

What is a credit score?

A credit score (or credit rating) is a tool used by lenders to help work out whether you can qualify for certain financial products like credit cards, loans, mortgages or services.

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.

This means that you could be turned down by one company but successful with another.

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 their own version of your credit score.

Usually the higher your credit score, the higher your chances of getting the best credit deals but this still isn't a guarantee that your application will be successful.

Even more confusingly each credit reference agency uses a slightly different scale so, for example, a score of less than 560 is 'very poor' with Experian but 'excellent' with Equifax.

Can I improve my credit score?

Whether you've been rejected for credit and have a bad credit score or just want to keep on top of your credit history; the following tips could help you improve your creditworthiness.

Check your credit report and correct mistakes

It's important to check your credit report at least once a year to make sure that the information it contains is correct.

If you notice any mistakes, get them rectified as soon as possible so they don't adversely affect your future credit applications.

Register to vote

Not being on the electoral roll could make it very difficult for you to get credit. This is because lenders use this information to confirm that you live at the address given on your application. Registering to vote is easy and can be done at any time through the Register to votewebsite.

Think 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 recently been turned down for credit - hold off on applying for a credit card or loan immediately as multiple applications over a short period of time could suggest to lenders that you are in financial difficulty. I

Use an eligibility calculator

Eligibility calculators use a soft credit check to estimate your chance of being accepted for credit cards or loans. There are a number of free ones available online and they're a great way of helping you be more strategic about the financial products you apply for to reduce the chance of you being rejected and damaging your credit score.

Build a good credit history

Repaying your loans on time and staying within your credit limit can help to convince lenders that you are a responsible borrower.

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 Facebook Live video for expert advice and read our guide on how to improve your credit score for more tips.