New to the UK? How to Build Your Credit Score as an Immigrant

Home New to the UK? How to Build Your Credit Score as an Immigrant
Sunny Avenue
Credit Scoring Sunny Avenue
31 May 2024

Moving to a new country can be an exciting adventure, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. One of the most important aspects to consider when starting a new life in the UK is building your credit score.

In this insight, we'll explore the steps you can take to build your credit score as a new immigrant in the UK.

Key Takeaways

  • As an immigrant in the UK, your credit score from your home country does not transfer, and building credit involves starting fresh and proving financial responsibility over time.
  • Begin by opening a UK bank account, managing it responsibly, setting up direct debits, registering on the electoral roll, and being mindful of financial connections and credit utilisation to establish and improve your credit score.
  • Building a credit score takes time and requires patience.
  • Obtain your credit report frequently to check if your score is improving.

How to Build Credit Score for New Immigrants

As a new immigrant in the UK, it's important to understand that your credit scoring is essential for various financial activities like getting loans, renting a place to live, or even signing up for a mobile phone contract.

The challenge is that as a newcomer, you may not have a credit history in the UK, making it hard to have a good credit score right away. But don't worry! By learning the right strategies and information, you can start building your credit score from the lowest credit score and set yourself up for a strong financial future.

CheckMyFile - Get a Free Copy Of Your Credit Report

★★★★★ 4.8

If you're looking to check the credit report that the bank sees, you need to use a multi-agency report. This style of report covers all 3 credit agencies in the UK.
You can view your multi-agency credit report with CheckMyFile. CheckMyFile offer a 30-day free trial to view your report. If you just need a quick look to make sure all is in order, checkmyfile is a great (free) way to do it. 

Understanding the UK Credit System

When you come to a new country like the UK, there's something called a credit score that affects how you can borrow money or do certain things. When you move to a new country, your old credit score doesn't come with you. That means you start with no credit history here.

Credit score is a number that shows how good you are at managing money. It's based on things like paying bills on time, how much money you owe, and how long you've been using credit. Banks and companies use this number to decide if they can trust you with money.

To build a good credit score in the UK, you need to show that you can handle money responsibly. That means paying your bills on time and not borrowing too much money. It may take time, but by being responsible with money, you can improve your credit score and have more opportunities in the future.

What Is My Credit Score as a New UK Immigrant?

When you move to the UK as an immigrant, your credit score from your home country does not transfer with you. This means that you start with a blank slate and have no established credit history in the UK. Building a credit score in the UK as a new immigrant involves starting from scratch and demonstrating your financial responsibility over time.

How to Check Your Credit Score as a New UK Immigrant

Companies such as Checkmyfile offer multi-agency credit reports. To obtain your multi-agency credit report from Checkmyfile, you can take advantage of their 30-day free trial. During this trial period, you can explore your credit information from all four major credit reference agencies without incurring any charges. After the trial period, Checkmyfile charges a monthly fee of £14.99. However, you have the flexibility to cancel your account at any time if you choose not to continue using their services beyond the free trial.

How to Start Building Your Credit History

To start building your credit score in the UK, one of the first things you should do is open a bank account here. A UK bank account is not only a safe place to keep your money, but it also helps you start your credit history. When you choose a bank, make sure it is trustworthy and reliable. Once you have an account, it's important to handle it responsibly. This means keeping track of the money you earn and spend, avoiding spending more than you have in your account, and making sure you have enough money to pay any automatic payments or bills that are set up on your account. By managing your bank account wisely, you will be taking an important step towards building your credit score in the UK.

Set Up Direct Debits

It's a smart move to set up regular direct debit payments for bills like gas, electricity, or mobile phone contracts. This shows that you can handle your financial responsibilities well. By making these payments on time and in full, you prove to lenders that you're trustworthy when it comes to borrowing money. If you're worried about having enough money in your account, you can choose to make manual payments instead of using direct debits. Just remember, whether it's automatic or manual payments, always make sure to pay your bills on time and in the full amount. This will help build a positive credit history and increase your chances of getting credit in the future.

Don't Miss Payments

Making timely payments for your bills is extremely important when it comes to building a good credit score. If you pay your bills late or miss payments, it can harm your creditworthiness, which means it becomes more challenging to get credit in the future. If you find it difficult to make payments on time, don't hesitate to contact the people or companies you owe money to. Talk to them about your situation and see if there are any alternative options or payment plans available. It's crucial to communicate with your creditors and demonstrate that you're actively working towards resolving any financial difficulties you may face. 

Be careful of buy now pay later services, many immigrants ask, does klarna affect credit score? If you are approved for klarna and miss payments it will have a negative effect on your credit score.

Register on the Electoral Roll

Being registered on the electoral roll is an essential step in building your credit history in the UK. Registering to vote helps lenders verify your identity and address, providing them with additional confidence in your financial stability. If you're eligible to vote in the UK, make sure to register as soon as possible. If you're not eligible, there are still other ways to improve your credit score. find out: Am I On The Electoral Register?

Build Financial Independence

When you have financial connections with others, like sharing credit agreements or having joint bank accounts, their financial history can affect yours. To protect your credit score, it's crucial to cut off any financial ties with ex-partners or former housemates. You can do this by closing joint accounts and contacting credit reference agencies to ask for a "notice of disassociation." This way, your credit records won't be connected, and their financial situation won't impact your credit score.

Be Mindful of Your Credit Utilisation

Your credit utilisation ratio is an important factor in determining a good credit score. It measures how much of your available credit you are using compared to your total credit limit. To demonstrate responsible borrowing habits, it is generally recommended to keep your credit utilisation below 30%. It is best to avoid maxing out your credit cards or consistently borrowing up to your credit limit, as this can suggest financial instability. Put simply, try to use only a portion of the credit available to you and avoid regularly reaching your credit limit in order to maintain a healthy credit score.

Apply for a Credit Building Credit Card

Credit building credit cards can be a useful tool for establishing and improving your credit score. These cards are specifically designed for individuals with limited or no credit history. While the credit limits may be lower and the interest rates higher, using a credit building credit card responsibly can demonstrate your ability to handle credit and improve your creditworthiness over time. Make small, regular purchases on the card and pay off the balance in full each month to avoid accruing high-interest charges.

Monitor Your Credit Report

Regularly checking your credit report is essential for keeping track of your credit score and ensuring that the information on your report is accurate. You can request a free copy of your credit report from credit reference agencies such as Equifax or Experian. Review your report for any errors or discrepancies and report them to the relevant agency for correction. Monitoring your credit report also allows you to detect any signs of identity theft or fraudulent activity and take appropriate action.

Patience and Persistence

Building a credit score takes time and patience. While it may take some time to see significant improvements in your credit score, your efforts will pay off in the long run. Remember that building a credit history is a marathon, not a sprint.

Next Steps for Your Credit Score

Building a credit score as a new immigrant in the UK may seem challenging, but with the right knowledge and strategies, it's entirely achievable. By following the steps outlined in this article, such as opening a UK bank account, setting up direct debits, and practicing responsible borrowing habits, you can gradually build a solid credit history. Remember to be patient, monitor your credit report regularly, and seek professional advice when needed. With time and perseverance, you'll establish a strong credit score that opens up a world of financial opportunities in the UK.


Stuart is an expert in Property, Money, Banking & Finance, having worked in retail and investment banking for 10+ years before founding Sunny Avenue. Stuart has spent his career studying finance. He holds qualifications in financial studies, mortgage advice & practice, banking operations, dealing & financial markets, derivatives, securities & investments.

  • The content on this page is regularly checked by our onboarded advisers and experts.

Be notified when we add new articles




Our website offers information about financial products such as investing, savings, equity release, mortgages, and insurance. None of the information on Sunny Avenue constitutes personal advice. Sunny Avenue does not offer any of these services directly and we only act as a directory service to connect you to the experts. If you require further information to proceed you will need to request advice, for example from the financial advisers listed. If you decide to invest, read the important investment notes provided first, decide how to proceed on your own basis, and remember that investments can go up and down in value, so you could get back less than you put in.

Think carefully before securing debts against your home. A mortgage is a loan secured on your home, which you could lose if you do not keep up your mortgage payments. Check that any mortgage will meet your needs if you want to move or sell your home or you want your family to inherit it. If you are in any doubt, seek independent advice.