What is a credit score?

Many people wonder what a good credit score is and what it can mean for you. As we’re here to help the Police Family financially, we want to help bring some clarity to this subject.

A credit score is a personal rating, determined by information given to credit reference agencies; Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are the main agencies used in the UK. They collect and hold information such as your debts, how many credit applications you have made and whether you have been making repayments on time. The data collected from credit reference agencies helps to form your credit score and provides potential lenders with an idea of how you manage your debt. This helps them to predict future behaviour and to assess if you are someone they would be happy to lend to.

It is also important to note that not all credit reference agencies will give you the same score. Each agency could hold different information about you, dependent on which companies report to them, and have their own way of scoring. Your score will change over time, just like your financial circumstances do.

How does the credit scoring system work?

Credit reference agencies collect information from different sources such as credit card companies and other lending agencies, all of which affect the score they display. These can include:

Having different credit accounts reflects your credit management as lenders observe your monthly borrowing levels, including mortgages, credit cards, and loans. Learn more about credit cards in our article ‘Understanding Credit Cards.

Registering to vote can help confirm your identity and home address. Click here to register to vote.

The age of your active credit accounts plays a role in determining your credit score. Maintaining the same accounts over longer period shows you have strong financial management skills.

Commit to your savings by clicking here and opening a Member Account.

Credit accounts and lenders will report any missed, arrears, late or defaulted payments, or if you go over any agreed credit limits. Click here to find out more on what affects your credit score.

What is my credit score?

Regularly reviewing and monitoring your credit score can help you keep on top of what your credit file is reporting. Checking your credit score with more than one credit reference agency can also give you an idea of what potential lenders can see, and ensure that all the information reported is accurate. To view your credit score for free, we’ve listed the 3 main credit reference agencies used in the UK below:

ClearScore (uses Equifax)



How to improve your credit score:

Any steps you take to improve your credit score could take time. However, you could improve your score by:

✓ Paying on time – make sure to pay all your creditors on time. This can include household bills, credit cards and car finance repayments.
✓ Managing your credit well – Stay below your credit limits and try to reduce debit balances whenever possible.
✓ Limit your applications – whether you’re accepted or not, ‘hard’ credit searches could affect your credit score, especially if you make numerous credit applications in a short period of time.
✓ Registering to vote – being on the electoral register may boost your credit score.