Understanding your credit score
Credit scoring guide

Understanding your credit score

Learn about credit scoring

What is a credit score?

Banks and other lenders use a credit score to decide how likely you are to pay them back. Your score is based on how well you manage your finances. A bit like a financial footprint that shows if you’ve missed any bills for example. The higher your credit score the better your chances of getting a loan, credit card or mortgage. A higher score might also make it easier to borrow more money and maybe get a better interest rate. Credit scores are just one factor used in making the decision to lend money. Lenders may also look at your income and outgoings too for example.

How is it calculated?

Before you can borrow money, banks and other lenders normally undertake a credit score assessment including information from one or more of the three credit reference agencies (CRAs) in the UK – TransUnion, Experian, Equifax. Each lender/agency calculates your score a little differently but they all look at the same kinds of things to work out if your score meets their lending requirements.

Understanding credit decisions

If you’ve been turned down after applying to borrow money, there may be a few reasons why. For example, your credit score may be too low or your income and outgoings may make paying back any lending difficult.

For more information on our credit decisions, how to make an appeal and useful resources that can help you to review your financial circumstances visit our credit decisions page.

What affects my credit score?

Lots of things impact your score and it's not just financial things either.

Financial things


  • how much money you owe lenders
  • any missed or late payments
  • defaulting or breaking the terms of credit agreements
  • going over your credit limit
  • how often you withdraw cash using your credit card
  • applying for credit too often in a short space of time.
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Non financial things

Like if...

  • you’re on the electoral roll 
  • you move house a lot
  • you’ve got a joint account with someone with a bad credit record
  • there are any errors on your credit history file.
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Want to explore your borrowing options?

If you’re looking to borrow money, we know it can be difficult deciding which type of borrowing best suits your needs. So, we’ve summarised the options for you to easily compare and contrast. 

Credit score myths

Myth 1

I only need to worry about credit scores if I am borrowing money.

Myth 2

There is a single, universal credit score.

Myth 3

I can’t get any borrowing with a bad credit score.

Myth 4

Being near my credit limit doesn't have an impact as I pay it all off each month.

Myth 5

The less I borrow the better my score will be.

Myth 6

Checking my report will hurt my score.

Credit score FAQs

Check your credit score now

It's free to check and won't impact your score.

New to NatWest?

You don't have to be a NatWest customer to check your credit score for free. Sign up now in just four simple steps.

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Already bank with Natwest?

Good news, you're able to check your credit score for free with the NatWest mobile app.

Tap 'find out more' to get started.

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