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HomeMortgage Help GuidesWhat credit score will I need for a mortgage?

What credit score will I need for a mortgage?

Last updated on 18th August 2023 by Martin Alexander

It’s important to state that there isn’t a specific credit score for a mortgage. This is because credit scores can vary quite considerably and furthermore, a credit check is only one part of your mortgage assessment.

You can also have the highest credit score possible and still be declined a mortgage. This is because of other factors that can affect your mortgage chances. Nonetheless, a good credit score is more favourable than a bad one.

Higher credit scores can unlock better deals and give you access to more lenders, but there’s no guarantee. Lower credit scores will make mortgage approval difficult, but it’s still possible.

Mortgage lenders use a credit score to assess the likelihood of you repaying your mortgage on time. That being said, the responsibility of repaying a mortgage is ultimately yours.

What is a credit score?

Your credit score shows how reliable you are with borrowing money. Credit reference agencies will give you a credit score based on how well you manage repayments. Paying your bills on time will have a positive effect on your score, whereas paying late can damage your score.

Your credit score will vary depending on the credit reference agency, as each agency uses its own scoring system. Nonetheless, your credit file will still work in a very similar way. The reason for keeping a credit score is that creditors can check your credit files before lending.

Is there a minimum credit score needed for a mortgage?

There isn’t a minimum credit score needed to get a mortgage. This is quite a common assumption, but getting a mortgage is possible with any credit score. Of course, a low credit score can make it difficult, but a mortgage is still very much possible.

Lenders use your credit score as part of their mortgage assessment. If you have a low credit score but otherwise have a strong application, then your mortgage chances shouldn’t be affected too much.

A good credit score can give lenders the impression that you’re a reliable borrower and are more likely to repay your mortgage on time. That being said, each lender has a unique scoring system to calculate what a good credit score is. This means that the same credit score may be considered good by one lender but average or bad for another.

What is a good credit score for a mortgage?

As credit agencies each use different scoring systems, no specific score guarantees you a mortgage. Nonetheless, the higher you score, the better.

CRA Very Poor Poor Fair Good Excellent
Experian 0-560 561-720 721-880 881-960 961-999
Equifax 0-279 280-379 380-419 420-465 466-700
TransUnion 0-550 561-565 566-603 604-627 628-710

For Experian, a score of 881-960 is considered good, while 420-465 is considered good for Equifax. TransUnion states that 604-627 indicates a good credit score. Credit scores higher than this are rated as excellent.

Which credit reference agencies do mortgage lenders use?

The credit reference agencies that the majority of mortgage lenders use are:

  • Experian
  • Equifax
  • TransUnion

Lenders may use one or a combination of credit reference agencies to make their assessment. It’s important to check each credit report, as they could vary. This is because credit agencies each use different scoring systems.

What is the maximum credit score?

The maximum credit score for each credit reference agency is:

  • Experian: 0–999
  • Equifax: 0-700
  • TransUnion: 0-710

You can download your credit reports to check the scores for each file.

How can I improve my credit score?

You can take certain steps to improve your credit score, such as:

  • Ensure you’re on the electoral roll
  • Check your credit reports for inaccuracies or fraudulent activity
  • Pay your bills on time, preferably on a monthly direct debit
  • Check that your address history is correct, especially if you’ve moved recently
  • If you have CCJs, make sure they’re satisfied
  • Try not to depend on loans and overdrafts
  • Don’t apply with multiple mortgage lenders

You can read more about improving your credit score here.

How can I improve my chances of a mortgage?

A great credit score can no doubt help you get a mortgage. That said, there’s so much more you can do to improve your chances of a mortgage:

  • Save as much as you can for a deposit
  • Reduce your spending habits at least three months before applying
  • Clear all of your credit cards as soon as possible
  • Settle as much outstanding debt as you can
  • Take steps to improve your credit score
  • Include all of your income on your application, such as salary, overtime, bonuses, and benefits
  • Don’t use payday loans for at least 12 months before applying

We’ll also check your mortgage application before approaching a lender.

I was refused a mortgage because of my credit score

If you’ve been declined because of having bad credit, there may still be hope. Applicants are often declined not solely because of their credit but mainly because the lender they applied with wasn’t suitable.

Although having bad credit is enough for a lender to decline you, a lender with different criteria may still approve you. Each lender has its own unique assessment, so it’s possible to be declined by one lender and accepted by another.

If you’ve been declined, we’ll take a look at your mortgage application in further detail. It’s important to get as much information as possible from your existing lender as to why they declined you.

Read more: What should I do if I’ve been declined a mortgage?

Should I apply for a mortgage if I have a low credit score?

If you have a low credit score, getting a mortgage won’t be easy. That said, lenders will look at more than just your credit score. Some applicants may have a credit score of zero, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not mortgage-worthy candidates.

There are some applicants who have never used credit, so although this can give them a very low score, it actually means they’ve taken little or no loans in the past. Explaining this to a lender and showing clear evidence of this may support your application. Having a deposit of at least 15% can also boost your chances of approval.

Learn more: Can I get a mortgage with no credit history?

Will my credit score be affected if I’m declined?

Yes, your credit score can be affected if you’re declined for a mortgage. Don’t risk damaging your credit score by applying with an unsuitable lender. Each time you actively apply for credit, you risk lowering your credit score. Furthermore, being declined can have a severe effect on your credit file. Speak to a mortgage advisor before approaching a lender yourself.

FAQs

A credit report will show lenders the last six years, but there isn’t a fixed timeframe required for a mortgage. It’s possible to get a mortgage with a credit history of one or two years if the rest of your application is satisfactory. That said, the more history you have, the better.

Reducing your credit card balances and overall debt can give your credit score a boost. If your partner has bad credit, ensure they’re removed from any accounts you may share. Check each credit report from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion to ensure there are no errors. Also, check that you’re on the electoral register.

Clear as much debt as possible and clear any credit cards you have. You can also ask a family member with good credit to add you as an authorised user on their account. If you have old, unused credit cards, don’t close them. Only apply for credit when necessary, and make sure you make your repayments on time. If you’re using an overdraft, make sure that’s also paid off.

Each credit reference agency varies, so a 999 credit score doesn’t guarantee a mortgage. Experian and TransUnion consider 550 a very poor score, while Equifax considers 550 to be excellent. This means that a mortgage with a 550 credit score is possible, depending on the credit reference agency you’re referring to.

If you spot something wrong on your credit report, you can dispute it with the credit reference agency. You can usually do this online by submitting a request to get things started.

The minimum deposit you’ll require for a mortgage is 10% if you have poor credit. If your credit is really bad, lenders may require a deposit of up to 25% to reduce the risk surrounding your application.

If you have a poor credit score, a larger income can certainly help your application. This is because it shows lenders that you’re financially stable despite your credit score being low. Furthermore, your credit issues may have happened some time ago.

If you have a large income but have recent credit issues, then it can show lenders that despite your large income, you’re still unable to manage credit properly.

Credit reference agencies hold information regarding your credit agreements, arrears, CCJs and electoral roll information. Bankruptcy and IVAs will also be visible on your credit report for up to six years.

Checking your credit report will give you an idea of what lenders will see when they carry out their credit checks. This is why it’s highly recommended to check beforehand, as you’ll be able to check for errors.

Lenders may also ask you about any credit issues that you may have. Being prepared for this always helps.

About the author

Martin Alexander
Senior Mortgage Advisor

Martin is a senior mortgage advisor who has held a CeMAP qualification for over 15 years while completing an MBA in Global Banking and Finance.