Banks & Credit Score

Banks & The Services They Can Provide

Banks can seem like intimidating places but that doesn’t mean you can’t use them. For things like claiming benefits, or having wages paid, you are likely to need a bank account. To open a first bank account, you will normally need to go into the bank but most offer an online service.

Banks offer a range of services and different types of accounts for their customers.

How To Open An Account

In order to open an account, banks need to see proof of who you are and where you live.

The list of acceptable identification are:

Who You Are

  • Current signed passport
  • Birth certificate (under 16)
  • Young Scot Card (under 25)
  • Provisional driving licence
  • Current UK photo card driving licence (or full paper version)
  • Residents permit from the Home Office to EU nationals along with their own passport

Where You Live

  • Council tax bill (valid for the current year)
  • Current UK photo card driving licence (or full paper version)
  • Bank or building society statement containing current address (dated within 3 months)
  • Confirmation you are on the electoral register (banks can do this automatically)
  • Recent utility bill or certificate from the company saying that you pay for the services on ‘pre-payment terms’
  • Original award letter from the Job Centre plus confirming your rights to benefits
  • Parent/Guardian utility bill with letter from parent/guardian

But if you don’t have those things, don’t be put off.

Some people may not have this identification, and there are ways round this. If you don’t have any of the official documents, banks should accept alternatives such as a benefits letter; immigration status document; or a letter from a prison governor, care-home manager, homeless shelter or place of study.

Contact your local bank to see what they will accept.

What is a credit score?

Your credit score. A credit rating shows how likely a typical lender would be to offer you credit. The three credit reference agencies, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax, have individual ways of scoring you, meaning the numbers you see may be different for each one.

Interestingly, lenders don’t see this score at all – it’s just for you.

For more great advice on credit scores take a look at the Money Saving Expert website.

How Do I Check My Credit Score?

There are three main credit scoring agencies in the UK. When you want credit, lenders will judge you on three main criteria when you apply for credit:

Yet the first two aren’t factored into your credit score – so it’s based on incomplete information. Plus, different lenders are looking for different things. When you apply, they assess you based on their own ‘ideal customer’ scorecard – and each lender is different.


If you are refused a loan do not panic

You might ask ‘why have I been refused credit?’ Just because one lender rejects you doesn’t mean another will do the same, but if you have been refused a loan or turned down for a credit card, the worst thing you can do is to keep applying for more credit. Several applications in a short space of time may make lenders think you are desperate for cash. Any credit applications you make – successful or not – will show up on your credit file. Can you wait? Can you save up? Get it second-hand or wait until the item goes on sale? Our Other Credit Sources page might help.

So, how do I get a better credit score?

Here are a few tips on how to get a better credit score

Register to vote
If you’re not on the electoral roll, it’s much harder to get accepted for credit, so sign up immediately. Don’t wait for the annual reminder, apply at any time on

Never miss or be late on any current payments
Even if you’re struggling, try not to default or miss payments, it can have a disproportionate hit. Doing this once or twice could cause problems that can cost you for years. Defaults in the previous 12 months will hurt you the most.

Check for mistakes on your file
Even having just a slightly wrong address can have an impact on your score. So, make sure you check all the details and report any incorrect information immediately.

Pay your bills on time
Paying on time a phone landline or internet contract is a great way to prove to lenders that you’re capable of managing finances effectively.

Check if you’re linked to another person
Having a spouse, friend or family member’s credit rating linked to yours through a joint account could affect your personal rating if they have a poor score.

Check for fraudulent activity
If something on your credit report is incorrect or doesn’t apply to you, i.e. if someone applied for credit in your name without your knowledge, contact the credit reference agency immediately to have your file updated.

Court actions for debt
Receiving any court judgements for debt will have a serious impact on your credit score. If you’re having problems keeping up with payments, find free debt advice online.

High levels of existing debt
Ideally you should pay off any outstanding debt before applying for new credit. This is because banks, building societies and credit card companies might be hesitant about lending you more if you already have a lot of current debt.

Moving home a lot
Lenders feel more comfortable if they see evidence that you have lived at one address for some time. Be sure to bear this in mind.

If you’re struggling to improve your score, it might be worth considering signing up to a one month free trial membership offered by the main credit agencies.

If you are a tenant you may also consider signing up to the Rental Exchange initiative. This will allow your rent payments to go towards building your credit score. You can find more information here.

Get In Touch