Credit score myths: debunked
Statistics from StepChange highlight the mental and physical health problems caused by debt. Accessing your credit information can be the first step in debt management.
Currently the world of credit reporting and scoring is complicated and opaque. And the different rumours which continue to surface only add to the confusion. Here, we debunk some of the most common myths to help you understand your credit history.
1. I’ve only ever borrowed small amounts, so my score will be good
Credit scores allow lenders to judge whether you are suitable for credit, using information about your previous borrowing and repayment history. If you have never borrowed, or only borrowed a small amount of money, then it is actually harder to judge your habits. This uncertainty can unfavorably affect your credit score.
However, borrowing so much money that you will not be able to meet the repayments will negatively affect your score. It’s important to strike a balance, proving that you can borrow money and then repay it, staying in control of your finances.
2. My credit score will always stay the same
Your credit score will almost certainly change over time. Credit scores are based on your financial repayment history, and if this changes, so will your score. Having frequent access to your credit score and report puts you in the best position to manage your financial wellbeing. Checking your score regularly means you can keep an eye on the change.
3. There’s no point in me paying off a credit card balance in full
Wrong. When you pay your balances in full, you are proving that you can afford your credit, which can have a positive effect on your credit score. Lenders offer the best deals to consumers who have good credit scores and have proved that they can repay their credit.
4. I’ve got several credit cards but I always pay my bills so this won’t affect my score
Having multiple credit accounts open, even ones that you don’t use, can damage your credit score.
It shows lenders that you have access to a potentially large amount of credit. Lenders like borrowers to live within their means, so if you have multiple lines of credit open it may affect the products you’re offered.
5. My poor credit score means I’ll be put on a credit ‘blacklist’
There is no such thing as a credit ‘blacklist’. When you apply for credit, your financial history is taken into account, and decisions are made based on your repayment history and your current levels of money owed.
However, these decisions are not permanent and every financial institution has its own criteria used to determine whether to accept an applicant based on the information in their credit report and their credit score.
6. I’ve never borrowed before, so my score must be great!
If you have never borrowed then it’s difficult for lenders to assess how reliable you are. Therefore, a lack of any financial repayment history can negatively affect your score and consequently the products you’re offered.
7. A family member’s bankruptcy will bring my own score down
Your credit score assesses you individually. Having a rich cousin or a poor grandparent will not affect your score. Your score is only affected by a family member if you have a financial connection (joint accounts, for example). Remember, living with someone doesn’t count as a financial connection.
8. My ex’s debt problems will have no effect on my credit report
A financial connection like a joint mortgage or bank account will mean that your credit reports and scores are linked in the eyes of lenders, even if you are no longer together.
If the only remaining financial link between you is the joint mortgage and you have been living apart for six months or more, you can request credit reference agencies to consider breaking the link between your credit reports.
9. There’s nothing I can do about a poor credit report and score
Every credit agency has different criteria but there are some universal, practical things you can do to improve your credit information. These include registering to vote, making sure all your accounts are registered to the correct addresses, paying bills on time and only keeping and opening lines of credit you need and use open.
Having free and easy access to your credit score and report allows you to take control and manage your financial situation better. ClearScore is working hard to ensure that everyone is the UK can take control of their credit report and score and protect their financial wellbeing.