The study analysed how many Brits have engaged in any of the actions required to build a credit score in the UK over the last 6 years, in order to identify how many UK adults are currently considered credit invisible.
The results revealed that 1 in 10 British adults currently have no credit history, and will therefore face significant problems when it comes to accessing mainstream financial products and services, such as mortgages, loans, credit cards and even mobile phone contracts.
Over the last year, the number of credit invisible people in the UK has grown by more than half a million people. Research published by the credit reference agency Experian in 2022 found that there were just over 5 million in the UK last year, compared to 5.6 million in the 2023 research by Finder.
The study also found that credit invisibility is a more prevalent problem amongst women than men. 8% of males surveyed were found to have no credit history, compared to 13% of females.
There are many reasons why an individual might be credit invisible. For example, if they recently arrived in the UK and are yet to establish a credit record here or if they have just turned 18 and therefore haven’t used credit up until this point in their lives.
This creates a problem if you do need to borrow money in the future, as lenders will have no evidence of how you’ve managed credit in the past.
Residents of Wales, Northern Ireland and the South West are most affected
When broken down by region, the results show that 13% of those living in Wales, Northern Ireland and the South West have no credit history, making these areas the worst impacted by credit invisibility.
On the other end of the spectrum were those living in Yorkshire and the Humber, with 8% of residents in this region found to be credit invisible. This was closely followed by those in the North West and East of England (9%).
Liz Edwards, editor-in-chief at personal finance comparison site finder.com, said, “Credit card and loan companies want to be sure you’ll repay money they lend to you – they want to see your track record of repaying – before they’ll lend. This makes sense: most of us would rather lend to a friend we trust instead of a stranger we’d just met in a pub.
“A credit history is a track record, and without it, many lenders won’t offer you a mortgage, a credit card or a loan – even a mobile phone contract can be harder to get. But there are ways around the problem.
“Firstly, to trigger a credit record, those who are credit invisible can get onto the UK electoral register and open a UK bank account.
“Secondly, some less mainstream companies use Open Banking to help them make lending decisions. This involves giving them secure access to your banking transactions and other financial data, so they can see your income and outgoings.
“Thirdly, there are products designed to help you build a credit history. Some work like a subscription where you make regular payments that are treated as loan repayments and reported as such to credit reference agencies, but in effect you’re building a savings pot.
“If you’re planning to get a mortgage, it’s particularly important to think well in advance about your credit history. Before you apply for any type of credit, it’s wise to check your credit history – various sites, including Finder, offer this for free.”