Last updated: May 06, 2024

Understanding your credit score

Ben Tweedie CeFA
Mortgage and Protection Adviser at Mortgages for Doctors

Understanding your credit score

Your credit score is an important indicator of your financial health. It's a figure that lenders use to evaluate your creditworthiness and can affect everything from the interest rates on loans to your ability to rent a property. This guide provides a succinct overview of credit scores, including how they're calculated, their significance, and steps to improve them.

What is a credit score?

A credit score is a numerical expression based on an analysis of your credit files, signifying your creditworthiness. In the UK, credit scores range from 0 to 999, with higher scores indicating a better credit history. These scores are calculated by credit reference agencies, such as Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, using information from your credit report.

How can you find out your credit score?

The big credit reference agencies all have free credit reports that you can sign up for online. We’ve linked these services below.

Experian CreditMatcher

ClearScore (Equifax)

Credit Karma (TransUnion)

Factors influencing your credit score

Several key elements impact your credit score:

Payment history: Timely payments positively affect your score, while missed or late payments can cause it to drop.

Credit utilisation: The proportion of your credit limit that you're using. Lower utilisation rates are better for your score.

Length of credit history: A longer credit history can lead to a higher score, as it provides more data on your borrowing behaviour.

Credit mix: Having a variety of credit products (credit cards, loans, mortgages) can positively influence your score.

New credit: Frequently applying for new credit can lower your score as it may indicate financial instability to lenders.

The importance of your credit score

Your credit score plays a pivotal role in your financial life. It influences the terms and rates you're offered on loans and credit cards. A higher credit score can lead to lower interest rates, potentially saving you thousands of pounds over time. Furthermore, your score can affect your ability to rent a property, as many landlords conduct credit checks on potential tenants.

Improving your credit score

Enhancing your credit score is a process that requires patience and discipline. Here are some strategies to help improve your score:

Ensure you are on the electoral roll: Ensure you’re on the electoral roll at your current address - credit reference agencies see this as a sign of stability.

Ensure timely payments: Set up direct debits for bills and loan repayments to avoid missed payments.

Maintain low credit utilisation: Try to use less than 30% of your available credit limit.

Limit new credit applications: Only apply for new credit when absolutely necessary, try to avoid applying for multiple credit products in a short space of time.

Regularly check your credit report: Monitor your credit report for errors or fraudulent activity and dispute any inaccuracies you find.

Build a credit history: If you're new to credit, consider applying for a credit builder credit card to start building a history.


Understanding and managing your credit score is a fundamental aspect of financial wellness.

By familiarising yourself with the factors that affect your score and adopting practices that promote a healthy credit profile, you can improve your financial standing and access better terms on loans and credit products. Remember, the journey to a better credit score is a marathon, not a sprint, and requires consistent effort over time.

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