Getting credit if you are new to the UK

If you're new to the UK, you might have difficulty getting access to credit – even if you had a good credit history in your home country. This can be frustrating, but fortunately there are ways you can build a credit history in the UK.

Getting a credit card as a new arrival to the UK

Credit reference agencies in the UK don't share data with similar agencies overseas, so if you're a new arrival, it's likely you're "invisible" to lenders – and because they don't have any record of what you're like with money, you might find that it might be harder to take out loans and credit cards. This might be the case even if you're studying in the UK and have been here for some time, but haven't tried to borrow money before.

If you've been refused for credit due to a lack of credit history, it's sensible not to keep making too many applications – lots of applications in a short space of time could damage your credit history, even if you haven't actually borrowed any money! Instead, you can try to follow the below steps  to build up a credit rating.

If you had a bank account and a good credit rating in your home country, you may be able to contact your bank manager there and get them to provide a reference to your local branch in the UK. This may help you to open a bank account, which in turn can help to establish a credit history in this country.

If you’re only planning on staying in the UK for a short while, you probably won't be able to get on the electoral roll, which is another common way for credit reference agencies to verify your identity. However, you can contact the agency your lender uses (which will probably be Experian, CallCredit or Equifax) and ask them to add a note to your file explaining why you aren't registered to vote in the UK.

Finally, consider getting a credit-building credit card, such as the Vanquis Credit Card. While you may find it hard to access mainstream credit, you may have a much better chance of being accepted for one of these specialist products, as they are specifically designed for people with bad credit or no credit history. Vanquis will consider applications from people who do not have an established credit history in the UK.

By using a credit-building card and repaying the amount you owe on time every month, you will start to build up a picture of your creditworthiness that lenders can see on your credit file – and in time, you should be able to apply for other forms of credit with confidence.