Managing Your Finances

What is the average credit score in the UK?

· 11 min read

Even though most of us know of the credit score system, what does your credit score mean? Is your score average, should you look to improve it, and how does it impact your access to credit? Discover how credit reference agencies calculate your credit score and the impact this can have on your finances.


What is the average credit score in the UK?: Your questions answered

  • Is my credit score impacted by my home address?

    There is a misconception that your home address and problems that other tenants or owners may have had in the past can influence your credit score. Thankfully, that’s not right. Your credit score is calculated using the information on your credit file. It is not based on your address or others who have lived there in the past.

    However, if you have joint credit arrangements with another member of your household, this could impact your credit score. If the individual has a high rating, this could drag your score slightly higher, but it could be detrimental to your score if they have a low rating.

  • Will a low credit score limit my credit options?

    It will depend upon your credit score and your current financial situation regarding the level of credit available going forward. In some cases, a relatively low score may still qualify you for credit, but the interest charged may be higher than average to reflect the risk. On the other hand, some companies might reject your application based on their lending criteria.

    It may be possible to extend the level of credit available if you have collateral or a guarantor. In the event of using a guarantor, they would be credit checked under the same criteria.

  • Is my credit file the same as my credit score?

    No. Your credit file contains your financial history going back seven years. Credit rating agencies use this information to calculate your credit score. However, the criteria used by each agency is different. Therefore, there may be some slight variation in your relative credit score.

The chances are you have come across the term “credit score” on numerous occasions. It is one of those subjects we all know about. But do we know what it means? How might a credit score impact your life? What is the average credit score in the UK?

To understand the importance of your credit score, we need to look at who calculates your credit score and how they do it.

What is a credit score?

If you Google the term "credit score", you will likely see it described as reflecting an individual’s creditworthiness. However, there is an awful lot more to your credit score than just creditworthiness, as we will cover. Perhaps the best way to describe this is a rating of your financial management skills. The higher your credit score, the better your financial management skills and financial situation are perceived to be. As such, you may enjoy better access to credit and finance as well as more attractive interest rates and offers. The reverse is true if your credit score is on the low side.

How is your credit score calculated?

There are several credit rating agencies, each with slightly different criteria and weightings when calculating your credit score. All of the information used to calculate your credit score is in your credit file, which contains information such as:

  • Credit history
  • Amounts outstanding
  • Payment history
  • New credit applications

As you will see from the image below, taken from the Experian website, each of these factors is given a particular weighting when calculating your credit score. As you would expect, payment history is the most meaningful measure. In essence, this is a reflection of your ability/trustworthiness to keep up with your repayments. Then we have amounts owed, credit history, new credit and credit mix – all taken into account when calculating your score.

Source: Experian

As new information can be added to your credit file at any time and be used to calculate your credit score, credit rating agencies will only calculate your current score when there is an enquiry. This enquiry could be from a third party business or individuals making use of credit score tracking services. The information in your credit file will generally remain "live" for seven years, after which it will not impact your credit score. Consequently, those who have complicated financial histories can, in due course, improve their credit rating.

Who are the major credit rating agencies in the UK?

There are three leading credit rating agencies in the UK:

There is also a fourth company called Crediva which specialises in "alternative credit scoring models", which they believe improves traditional credit risk analysis. The three leading credit rating agencies manage credit files for individuals and businesses. As we touched on above, the information in these files is then used to calculate credit scores.

As you will see online, hundreds if not thousands of companies offer credit score services. To calculate their version of your credit score, they will need access to the credit file managed by the above companies. So, while the credit score services deliver your actual credit score, the credit files are the vital element of this process.

What is the average credit score across the UK?

The three leading credit rating agencies have slightly different formulas and somewhat different ranges. For example, the average credit scores and ranges in the UK for the three top agencies are as follows:

  • Equifax 383 (0 to 700)
  • Experian 759 (0 to 999)
  • TransUnion 610 (0 to 710)

When you log into any credit rating agencies’ services, they tend to highlight your credit score in graphical format. The lower the dial, the lower the score, and the less flexibility you’re likely to have around credit options. For example, if your rating is low, you may still have access to 10 credit cards, but they will likely charge high interest rates. These services also allow you to see the range of different scores for each credit score service. As these services record similar information in your credit file, they should broadly reflect the same scenario, just using different scales.

Average credit scores by location and age

To give you an idea of average credit scores across the UK, we have looked at the information for the top five populated cities:

  • City of London
  • Birmingham
  • Glasgow
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester

Average credit score by location

The following table denotes the average credit score in each of the five major cities. Each score is calculated out of a maximum of 999.

CityAverage Credit Score
City of London887
Birmingham756
Glasgow767
Liverpool737
Manchester750

Source: Experian

Average credit score by age

If we now dig a little deeper, using different age bands, the range of credit scores starts to expand and become a little more interesting. The Experian website again provides the following information to compare like-for-like with the above table.

Age groupLondonBirminghamGlasgowLiverpoolManchester
18 – 20923780788771759

21 – 25

854752758738739
26 – 30875741761727754
31 – 35910739755719749
36 – 40902744755717747
41 – 45872756763726745
46 – 50841762767738746
51 – 55865775781763749
55+928817819801782

Source: Experian

As you can see from the above information, there is one standout trend. Credit scores tend to be relatively high for those aged 18 to 20, perhaps because they have limited debt in the early days. The average credit score then dips in the following age groups before rising again for over 50s. It may be that 50s have fully repaid their mortgages, which can obviously reduce financial pressure, hence their relatively high credit rating.

What is a good credit score?

The Experian credit score map is a handy means of comparing and contrasting your credit score against your region and age group. To put this in context, you must compare apples with apples instead of apples and pears. For example, the employment opportunities, cost of living and additional expenses are very different in London compared to Newcastle.

In theory, income and expenditure should be relative across different regions of the UK, but this is not always the case. So, compare your credit score with those of the same age group in your area and then compare this to the average UK score. Doing so will give you an idea of whether you are below average, around average, or above average.

Does your credit score really matter?

You’ll no doubt see differences of opinion regarding credit scores and how much they matter. However, the fact remains that information in your credit file and your credit score is the only way a lender can understand your financial management skills. Contrary to popular belief, there is no "banned list" of individuals who won’t have access to any credit. Whether a credit card company, lender or even mobile telephone company, each third party will obtain your current credit score and make a decision based on their criteria.

As we touched on above, the information in your credit file covers the previous rolling seven-year period – not six years, as some people believe. Consequently, you may have had difficulties eight years ago, which would no longer impact your credit score. Indeed, as your historical financial information approaches the seven-year tipping point, it will become less influential. Thus, while people may argue about the details of your credit score and its importance, it does matter.

Do you need to monitor your credit file entries?

Unfortunately, a rogue entry on your credit file could impact your credit score and restrict credit services available to you. Consequently, you must monitor your credit file entries regularly. There may be misunderstandings, simple errors, or the information may not be accurate. If you see any errors, you must raise a dispute with the relevant parties as soon as possible.

If your dispute is upheld, the information will be removed from your credit file immediately, and future calculations of your credit score will reflect this. Therefore, it is dangerous to assume that all information in your credit file is accurate. Keep checking!

How can you improve your credit score?

Thankfully, there are ways and means to improve your credit score, which should hopefully open up additional credit lines in the future. Some of the simple ways to improve your score include:

  • Pay your bills on time
  • Retain old credit cards to extend your credit history
  • Build a credit history by using different services, but remain in control
  • Try not to use more than 25% of your available credit – above this level will negatively impact your credit score 
  • Limit your number of credit applications

To expand on the final point, a lender will conduct a credit check each time you apply for credit. These show on your credit file and can affect your score. If you repeatedly apply for credit over a relatively short period, this could set alarm bells ringing for future lenders.

It is essential to go back to the basics of your credit file and your credit score. These reflect, among other things, your financial management skills. So even though you may retain an old credit card to extend your credit history, this does not mean that you have to overspend.

How does your credit score compare against the average?

The above information will give you an idea of the average UK credit score and variations for different regions and age groups. Of course, credit scores are not static figures and vary depending on your credit history, payment history and other elements detailed above. However, regular checking of your credit score may allow you to improve ahead of, for example, a mortgage application in a couple of years.

Your credit score will ultimately decide whether a mortgage company will extend credit and impact the headline interest rate available. So treat your credit score with respect!

Mark Benson
Mark Benson
Mark has over 10 years’ experience specialising in writing around property, finance, and investment subjects. Mark has been published on a variety of popular websites covering these topics and others.
The content on pensiontimes.co.uk is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as professional financial advice. Should you need such advice, consult a licensed financial advisor. Any references to products, offers, rates and services from third parties advertised are served by those third parties and are subject to change. We may have financial relationships with some of the companies mentioned on this website. We strive to write accurate and genuine reviews and articles, and all views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors
WHAT TO READ NEXT...