I’m new to the UK

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New to the UK

Before you can get a credit card or other sort of loan, you’ll need to have a credit history. But when you don’t have a credit history in the country you’re living in, it can be difficult to obtain any sort of cards. Not many companies are willing to give you credit. So how can you establish a credit history if nobody is willing to give you any credit?

The first thing to do if you’ve recently moved to the UK, is find out if your bank has any branches in the UK and issues credit cards here. Again, they may consider you for a credit card if you have a good credit record with them in another country.

But bear in mind, establishing a good credit history takes time. There are no shortcuts or tricks that can take you from no credit at all to a high credit score in a matter of months or even a few years. Your Credit Score is based on a number of factors such as payment history over time and length of time you’ve had credit. It is important to establish a credit history and even more important to take the time to do the right things to maintain good credit.

Here are some simple ways to build up a good Credit Score:

  • Pay your bills and make any repayments on time. This applies to all monthly bills such as gas, electricity, mobile phone contracts, catalogue or other accounts. Some of these on time payments will be reported to the Credit Reference Agencies, helping you build a good Credit Record.
  • Remember to leave time for your payment to reach its destination. Postal payments can often take 5 or more days while online payments will often be significantly faster. Make a note in your diary or calendar for the day on which you need to make the payment so that you don’t forget!
  • Pay at least the minimum repayment stated on your monthly bill. If you can’t remember how much this is, then check! It’s far better to overpay than to underpay, as an underpayment may be reported to the Credit Reference Agency as a non payment. This will not help you build a good Credit Record!
  • Stay within any credit limits that you may have. If you exceed your credit limit then that too will be noted on your Credit File and will damage your Credit Record.
  • Register on the Electoral Roll. Even if you are not a UK citizen and are not allowed to vote in all elections, registering on the Electoral Roll will help lenders find you and will improve your Credit Record.

When evaluating your credit application, lenders will consider how often you move and whether you rent or own your home. Having an electricity, gas, telephone, cable, or water bill in your name also helps. Just having your name on these accounts won’t establish a Credit Score, but it can be helpful for first-time borrowers, especially if you pay by monthly direct debit, in establishing a track record of regular payment. Your employment history is also significant as lenders want to see if you are able to hold down a job or if there are periods of unemployment.

Sometimes none of these routes proves successful. You may have only recently moved to the country and may have changed banks several times. In that case, there are providers that offer 'No Credit History Credit Cards' that take account of the fact that you don’t have a credit history.

These cards can help you establish and build your credit rating over time by demonstrating that you can successfully manage credit. In due course, you’ll then be able to apply for ‘Regular’ credit cards. Although acceptance can never be guaranteed you do stand a much better chance of success with these 'No Credit History Credit Cards'. They do charge higher interest rates (usually between 29.9% and 59.9% APR and the credit limit may be lower than ‘Regular’ cards. However, a higher APR and slightly lower credit limit is probably worth it for a credit card that will help you establish a sound credit history and allow you to get much easier access to credit in the future.

Next Steps

  1. Approach your bank to see if they will issue you a credit card
  2. Register on the Electoral Roll, even if there are no elections in the near future
  3. Leave 3 to 6 months between applications for credit
  4. Make sure you have some utility or other bills in your name at your address
  5. Never give false details on applications

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