Your credit score is important. It’s one of the main tools you can use to predict if lenders will approve your credit application or not. It is a numerical score that reflects your credit report information, including how you’ve managed money in the past. But it’s not a fixed score that you’re stuck with forever. If you understand how it works, you have the power to change it!
There are loads of myths about how the three main credit reference agencies (CRAs) in the UK (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) calculate your credit score. Money is a big enough source of anxiety without worrying about the things that aren’t true. Loqbox untangles the fact from the fiction, debunking 12 common credit myths.
12 credit score myths debunked!
1. You can be put on a credit ‘blacklist’
There isn’t a ‘credit blacklist’! Sure, when it comes to how lenders decide whether to give you a loan, credit card or a mortgage, your credit report does the talking. If you’ve struggled with your finances in the past, your credit report will show that. But don’t worry, you don’t get a permanent black mark against your name.
With patience and a bit of help (check out our blog for loads of tips!) you can totally fix it.
2. Your partner or housemate can affect your credit score
This isn’t automatically true. Your credit score only has eyes for you! It’s calculated using your financial history and doesn’t take into account anybody else unless you have a joint credit with them, like a joint bank account, mortgage, or if you are both named on a utility bill.
However, your credit score isn’t linked to somebody just because you live with them or if you are in a relationship with them. If you have previously applied for joint credit with a person, but you no longer have an account with them, they can be removed from your credit history and we recommend you do this because if they have a poor credit score, it can negatively affect yours too (eek!). You can find out more about how to correct errors on your credit report here.
3. Your home can be ‘blacklisted’ by previous occupants
Thankfully, this isn’t the case! People who have lived in your property before you have no effect on your credit score. This one comes up a lot, especially for people who rent in a shared property. There is a worry that a previous occupant with bad credit who lived at your address in the past will impact your credit score.
It can be a worry because you might get letters still coming to your property for previous owners. Just pop them back into the post saying that the person no longer lives at the address.
If you are in a rental living situation and you are looking to start building credit history with your rent payments, why not get started with Loqbox Rent? No matter if you pay rent to a landlord, local council or to a family member – we report your regular rent payments to Experian, building your credit history as you go!
4. Checking your credit report hurts your credit score
It used to be true that checking your credit report caused a hard check on your file, and too many hard checks in a six month period does lower your credit score. However, now there’s a workaround!
Nowadays, you can check your credit report yourself, as often as you’d like to by using companies that offer you soft credit checks instead (see point 5). This will show on your credit report, but lenders can’t see soft checks.
In fact, not only does it not hurt your score, but we suggest you do it every time before you apply for credit. If you know your score isn’t great, you can avoid lenders doing a hard credit search on you, which could temporarily hurt your score for six months.
5. I can only check my credit report directly with the CRA
Another little bonus myth we can bust for you is that you have to sign up to Equifax, Experian or TransUnion directly to get hold of your credit reports.
It is true that they can offer you a statutory credit report. But we like to recommend these awesome services that allow you to check your credit report (and credit score) as often as you like, for free and without harming it, as well as offering you lots of tips and guidance to improve your score:
* Just a note to mention that signing up for ClearScore on this link will give us a little commission.
6. You’ve only got one credit score
Try tripling it. You’ve actually got three credit scores! One from each of the three main credit reference agencies (CRAs) in the UK – Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.
Each of these agencies calculate your credit score using a different system. So there isn’t one universal credit score to rule them all! You have three different scores, which are on three different scales. Confused? You can read more about credit scores on our blog.
It’s a good idea to check all three of your credit reports because there’s always a chance you’ll have an error on one that’s not on the others. It isn’t always clear which of the three CRAs your lender will use to assess your application, although you can normally ask them for more information. Some lenders use just one or two of the CRAs, others might use all three!
7. You get a better credit score if you don’t borrow
Your credit history is a way to let lenders know how you have managed your credit in the past. So of course you need to have borrowed money to have a record of how well you paid it back. Your credit report (which includes your credit history data) basically shows creditors how likely you are to pay your debt off responsibly.
Having no history of borrowing and repaying credit means you’re an unknown, and lenders prefer certainties! So not borrowing can negatively affect your score because you have no credit history to contribute to it. The key is to find a sweet spot. Borrow enough money to show that you can manage it, but not so much that you’re pushing your credit limit.
8. Closing an old credit card is a good idea
If you had a large debt on your credit card and you’ve paid it off (well done you, by the way), you may be tempted to close the card to avoid temptation again. But it is better to keep your oldest credit card open if it shows a long history of good credit use. Lenders like to see a long history of consistency in how you manage credit (i.e. no missed payments).
Your credit report should show you which of your credit accounts is the oldest, and if it isn’t costing you too much money in fees, try to keep it open.
9. You can improve your credit score overnight
As much as we’d love for there to be a quick-fix solution to this, there isn’t a way to improve your credit score overnight. Credit building is a slow game, we’re talking months rather than days. However, you can help by getting your credit report in the best condition to improve it: check out this list to find out how to boost your credit score in the quickest way.
10. My pay rise will improve my credit score
Not exactly. This may well improve your affordability (which lenders are likely measuring too) but how much you earn isn’t included on your credit report.
You could have a ‘low income’ but handle money very responsibly, or have a ‘high wage’ and constantly be missing payments – it’s your financial behaviour that positively or negatively affects your credit score, not the paycheck amount!
11. Excellent credit scores don’t get rejections
Another myth is that you can’t get a credit card if you have bad credit. Your credit score doesn’t get you automatic decisions. Great credit scores don’t get an automatic “yes” anymore than bad scores get a “no”. Instead, you might find that the interest rates you’re offered are better when your score is higher.
There are credit cards designed for people with poor bad credit. If you look after them properly they can be a great way to build your credit score. But of course there’s always temptation! For an alternative way to use credit without taking out a credit card, Loqbox Spend can help you boost your credit score by 125 points on average in the first six months. No hard credit checks, no hassle, all for just £2.50 a week. Read more about it here.
12. Having a bad credit score means I’m bad with money
Big nope! Please never (ever) let the number of your credit score negatively affect how you feel about yourself. Credit scores are a tool to help you, and are not designed to make you feel bad. We are all human here, so please feel safe in our judgement-free corner of the internet.
If you’ve checked your scores and you’re feeling a bit deflated, take a deep breath and try to airbend that into positivity, if you can. You know you want to improve it, and you’ve come to the right place to do that — Loqbox can help you build your credit and grow your financial know-how.
Money is emotional. It can make you feel magnanimously generous straight after payday… or awfully stressed out when you don’t have enough to cover your outgoings. What’s really important is that you know that your value as a person isn’t tied to what your credit score says.
Loqbox can get you on the right path towards building your credit, and helping you to enjoy a happier, healthier relationship with money.