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Nearly 6 million Brits have been declined credit in the past 3 years

- Credit building cards up by almost 30% in the last 12 months -

Posted on 20 Nov 2013

  • 1 in 8 (12%) Brits turned down for credit in the past 3 years
  • Half of Brits who took a payday loan did so after being turned down for credit
  • Almost half of Brits (48%) are unaware of potential detrimental effect of payday loans on their credit rating
  • New regional credit rating map released: People in the North East have the poorest credit rating, compared to people in North Scotland who have the best

Many people may be shocked when they are turned down for credit, however new research by has revealed that nearly six million* (12%) Brits have been declined for credit in the past three years.

The different factors that can affect people’s credit ratings can be a confusing issue, with many people choosing to bury their heads on the subject.  Worryingly, new research published today reveals that 60% of people are completely unaware of what their credit rating is.  Of those that did know their credit score, more than a fifth of people (21%) didn’t know how to improve it.

Worryingly, 16% of people admitted they have poor credit. A poor credit rating can cause many financial issues from being declined a mobile phone contract to having difficulties getting a credit card. In fact, 6 % of Brits have been turned down for a credit card in the last 3 years.

Almost half (47%) of those with a poor credit rating are more likely to borrow money from friends and family. Shockingly, nearly a third (30%) are more likely to borrow money from unauthorized/private money lenders and 21% had taken a payday loan in the last 3 years.

Regionally, it appears that people in the North East have the worst credit rating (lower than average), compared to people living in Northern Scotland who have the best credit rating (higher than average). The regions that seem to fair average are people who have taken residence in Central Scotland, the Borders and the South West **.

The research highlights that people in the UK are continuing to take out finance ***without thinking about any long term impact it could cause on their credit history. Almost half (48%) of people were unaware or didn’t think that they could be damaging their credit rating just by applying for short-term, high interest loans. This, in fact, could make a person less likely to be accepted for a banking loan at a lower interest rate, further perpetuating the cycle of debt.

The research also reveals how low credit rating can affect more than just finances.  Over half of people (55%) feel under high levels of stress as a result of being turned down for credit and 38% say that it has a negative impact on their life even leading to relationship breakdown.

However, there is help out there for those Brits who want to be on the road to better financial well-being using products that help rebuild a damaged credit portfolio, including credit building cards. Good news is these credit building cards are seen to be on the rise in the UK, having more than tripled over the past 3 years. In 2011 there were only five cards of this type available but they jumped to 14 in 2012 (+180%).

In 2013, there are currently 18 on the market – a steady 28.6% rise over the past year. For Brits who want to improve their credit rating, these cards could be ideal. Repaying money on time each month with a card of this type can help when applying for the best deals, mortgages, loans or other credit cards in the future.

Nerys Lewis, Head of Credit Cards at says:

“We want Brits to get to grips with their credit rating, understand what affects their credit score and try to improve on it. By simply understanding their finance situation better, it can give people a better chance of getting that mortgage, loan or credit card – and at the very best rate.

“With so many credit card providers keeping their best deal for customers with a near perfect credit rating, it’s more important than ever to understand how credit rating works, and how you can use the knowledge to get the best deal.

“In fact, credit building cards can be useful tools to build your credit rating. They can help to create a positive loan repayment history, as the very fact that you’re seen to be successfully paying off a manageable debt each month gets noted on your credit file. So don’t let your credit score hold you back!”

Alongside the research, has released a regional map highlighting the regions with the best and worst credit scores [insert link].


Notes to Editors:

Yougov September 2013
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc and commissioned by Total sample size was 8127 GB adults aged 18+. Adults with poor credit rating sample size  840. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16th to 24th October 2013.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

There are no previous official figures on how many people take out payday loans but Consumer Focus estimated last year that 1.2 million people took out 4.1 million loans in 2009. 

* To work out how many Brits have been declined for credit in the past three years, you simply divide the GB population of adults (47.4 million aged 18+) by 12%, which is the percentage of people who have been turned down for credit in the past three years, which gives a figure of 6 million. Workings out provided by

Figure for number of adults came from the report : report  ‘Population Estimates for UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland - Mid 2012’

**The credit rating scores are based on 34,261 customers who used the Card Matcher tool to check their credit rating between January 1st 2013 and 11th November 2013.
*** By finance people were asked what they had taken out in the past three years this included credit card, bank account, loan, general credit

People can apply for a copy of their credit record from credit reference agencies Experian, Equifax and Callcredit.

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