What is the Lowest Credit Score

Updated: March 03, 2024 Author:

Quick Answer: Across all credit reporting agencies, the lowest credit score is 0. Credit ranges are reported as bad, poor, fair, good, and excellent. It’s easier to get finance approved when your score is within the “good” credit score range. The lowest credit score within that category differs by agency. With Experian, it’s 881, with TransUnion, it’s 604, and with Equifax, it’s 520.

Why Credit Scores Differ

There is no universal credit score and even what the Credit Reference Agencies (CRA’s) report, the number is only a guideline. Lenders use in-house credit scoring models to assess the level of financial risk applicants pose. The risk assessment is based on the information contained on your credit report. Not the credit score the agency shows on your credit report. That’s displayed as an indication for you to get a sense of how lenders are likely to view your application for any type of financial product.

Credit scores from CRA’s are a good baseline to use because if you have derogatory information on your credit reports, the score lowers. When your financial history is unblemished, scores are higher. When you find yourself struggling to be approved for finance, it’s usually because your credit history is unfavourable. When you know that you need to improve your credit score, it’s good to have a goal in mind. That goal should be to get your credit score up to at least the lowest credit score possible to be within the good credit range.

What is the Lowest Credit Score that is Considered Good

Experian

881 is the lowest score in the category of “good” credit. A fair credit rating range is 721 to 880. 720 and under is considered to be a poor credit rating.

TransUnion

604 is the lowest score in the category of “good” credit. A fair credit rating range is with the range of 566 to 603. 602 and under is considered to “Need Work”.

Equifax

Equifax is the UK’s third-largest credit scoring company. In 2021, they switched their credit score ranges to award up to 1,000 points. They also no longer use the standard boilerplate terms of good, fair, and bad credit. Instead, on your credit reports, either the statutory credit reports from Equifax or the free online reports obtainable through Clearscore.com, the categories are:

Let’s start climbing0 to 409
Moving on up410 to 519
On good ground520 to 604
Looking bright605 to 724
Soaring high725+
Equifax credit score ranges

The middle range is what would be considered good. Within that category the lowest credit score is 520.

As you can see from the above details, whilst all credit scoring models have a lowest possible credit score of zero, each has a different low point to be considered as having good credit. When you improve your credit score to that range, new opportunities open up for favourable credit with lower interest rates, higher credit limits, and possibly longer repayment terms. The longest repayment terms are for secured loans and the most significant in that category are mortgages, which are by far, the most difficult to be approved for.

What is the Lowest Credit Score to Get a Mortgage

There is no way to know what the lowest credit score for a mortgage would be because lenders will never reveal the minimal level of risk they’d accept in their credit scoring calculations as it could lead to applications being tweaked to game their systems, and in a way, encourage fraud.  The majority of banks and building societies use all three of the big credit reporting agencies in the UK to get a fuller view of your financial history. For that reason, it’s worth checking that each of your credit reports is accurate and any incorrect information is rectified before proceeding with a mortgage application.

The most important aspect on your credit reports is your history of managing credit and household bills. On your credit reports is a record of your financial history over the previous six years. The most adverse entries are CCJs and bankruptcies. When these have been issued in the past six years, most legacy lenders won’t consider the application. In such instances, specialist lenders can arrange for mortgages after bankruptcy. Even after six years have passed, some lenders ask in the application for a mortgage if you have ever been made bankrupt in the past. Even if it doesn’t show on your credit report, you should answer this truthfully, as it could be considered a form of mortgage fraud as it is omitting information relating to a bad credit history.

How to Improve Your Credit Score Across All Credit Reporting Agencies

The best way to improve your credit score is to obtain affordable credit and keep up repayments. Any supplier providing a product or service in advance of payment may report your account management to one or more of the credit reporting agencies. As examples, British Gas reports payment history monthly to all three CRA’s, E.ON reports payment history to Equifax, and Octopus Energy shares credit data with TransUnion. EDF doesn’t report monthly, but it will issue a default notice on credit files if a customer fails to respond to a written notice of missed payments within 30 days. This is why credit scores differ by agency. Different sets of data are being reported from different companies.

Similarly, using BNPL (Buy Now, Pay Later) for low-cost finance can now help you build credit history, however, BNPL doesn’t directly affect your credit score. All BNPL does is let lenders viewing your credit report see that you have had finance and either repaid in accordance with the terms or defaulted by missing the payments or paying late.

The more companies you can get accounts with that report your payment history to credit reference agencies, the faster you can improve your credit score. Naturally, the obvious way to do that is to take on low-cost finance. If using credit cards to improve your credit score, you’ll want to always be making above the minimum monthly payment, preferably paying in full each month or at the very least, keeping your expenditure on the card below 25% of the available credit limit.

Keep in mind that your credit report is only one data set lenders use to assess the level of financial risk they’d be exposed to if they approve your application. They will also use data on your application such as income details, length of time in employment, and the length of time living at your current address. These are indicators of stability and can weigh into lenders decisions to approve or reject an application.