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What is a good or bad credit score?

Let's break down what makes a credit score good or bad and how your score might affect the credit offers you get.

24 March 2020Helen Tippell 2 min read
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Check your credit score today

See your credit score in minutes with ClearScore. It’s free, forever.

See your score

When it comes to applying for credit, there’s a vital piece of information that impacts how lenders and banks view you: your credit score.

Your credit score is a number out of 1000 that's based on your credit report. Your report is a record of your credit history and how you’ve managed your finances in the past. This allows lenders to assess your level of risk when you apply for credit.

Your credit score is calculated by a credit reference agency (CRA). There are three CRAs in the UK: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. At ClearScore, we show you your Equifax credit score, which ranges from 0 to 1000.

Each CRA is sent information by lenders about the credit you have and how you manage it. Other information, such as public records like the electoral roll and court judgments, are also sent to the CRAs and form part of your credit report.

There is no ‘magic’ credit score that will guarantee that you get accepted for credit. Also, different lenders are looking for different things, so you might get refused credit by one lender and accepted by another.

Remember, your credit score is a useful indication of your creditworthiness, but lenders will look at other factors (such as your income and debt levels) before deciding whether to lend to you.

Here's how we show you your Equifax score at ClearScore:

Credit score

ClearScore name


Let’s start climbing


Moving on up


On good ground


Looking bright


Soaring high

There are a number of things that affect your credit score, including:



Repeatedly missing or making late payments

This suggests you’ll miss payments in the future

Defaults, Court judgments, bankruptcy

This suggests you can’t afford the debt you’ve taken on

Applying for lots of credit in a short period of time

Lenders may assume you’re going through financial difficulties and therefore you may appear high risk

Having a large amount of credit available to use

Lenders may assume you’re more risky, as you have the potential to run up high debts

Frequent change of address

Lenders may assume you’re less stable

Mistakes on your report

If your report has mistakes, it won’t be a true reflection of how you manage credit. You can fix mistakes here.

Lenders are looking for someone who will be able to meet the repayments - someone who is low risk.

A higher credit score means your credit report contains information that shows you could be low risk, so you’re more likely to appeal to lenders. For example, if your report shows that you always pay your bills on time, you could be considered a reliable borrower.

If you have a high credit score, your application is more likely to be accepted. You’re also more likely to be offered the best interest rates and higher credit limits.

Check your eligibility: See what offers you're eligible for with your credit score.

A lower credit score means you might be seen as a high-risk borrower. For example, if your credit report shows that you’ve defaulted on a previous debt, your credit score is likely to be lower.

If you have a lower score, lenders might offer you credit at a higher interest rate or reject your credit application altogether. But don't worry, there are plenty of steps you can take to improve your score.

There are also specialised lenders for people with bad credit who need a loan or a credit card.

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Written by Helen Tippell

Digital Copywriter

Helen's our resident Digital Copywriter. She makes personal finance easier to understand so you can be confident about your credit choices.