7 hacks to quickly build your credit score as a recent migrant
Updated: Feb 4
Here are the 7 rules I would follow if it was me who had just moved to the UK.
I’ve given these a lot of thought and they’re built on a decade of experience in the UK. Basically - my recommendations are much more insightful than the cut and paste suggestions you’ll find in other places on the internet, so pay attention!
1. Get on the electoral roll
Boring as hell, but totally worth it. Please, do it.
What is the electoral roll? It’s exactly what it sounds like - an electoral roll. You don’t need to be a UK citizen to be on it. And being on it boosts your credit score by way more than you’d think.
2. Get on the utility bill
Common misconception: "you need to be on the tenancy agreement to get on the utility bill." Nope, not necessary at all. I've gotten myself added to utility bills in the past without being on the tenancy agreement. It takes a 5 minute call, that's it. You'll need to have your flatmate/ whoever is on the tenancy agreement on hand for the call though.
To be clear - when I say ‘get on the utility bill’ - in the UK you’ll have 3 utilities that you get billed for. Electricity. Gas. Water. The tenant/renter is almost always responsible for paying these bills.
Normally its 1-2 suppliers that provide these utilities. So you’ll normally have 1 supplier doing electricity and gas, and 1 supplier doing water. When you move into a new flat, you’ll ‘inherit’ whichever suppliers the previous tenant had. You can always change them if you want though.
3. Separate out your utilities
If you can, keep your electricity supplier separate from gas and water. Have 3 suppliers if you can actually. Each supplier counts as a separate entry on your credit file this way. It’s a one time hassle to get a new supplier, after that it’s just plug and play - no hassle at all. You can even save money by switching. Worth considering.
4. Get on the council tax bill
Another easy one. Again, you don't need to be on the tenancy agreement for this.
What is a ‘council tax bill’? Hard to describe, but in the UK tenants have to pay ‘council tax’ each year to their local city council; this goes towards road maintenance, garbage collection etc.
5. Open a bank account with Monzo or another 'real bank'
Not sure if you can do this with Monzo, but if yes, then please go for it. When I say 'real bank', I mean just read the fine print to make sure it isn't an 'E money institution'. If your account is with a 'real bank' like Monzo, then it gets reported to Experian. A quick test to see if your provider is a 'real bank' or not is to ask if they offer overdraft. If they offer overdraft, then they are a 'real bank'
6. Get a Bits store card, and/or a bank credit builder card
Bits you'll get anyway - its 100% approval. Apply for one bank credit card. If you get it, great, if you don't get it, then please don't re apply in other places. Just one.
You don’t have to be in the UK when you get Bits. You can do it even before you move here. You’ll just need to have a UK address that you can give. (No need for a UK mobile number).
7. Get a post-paid mobile contract
If your name is on the tenancy contract then this shouldn't be a problem. If your name is NOT on the tenancy contract, then ask your girlfriend/boyfriend/friend to go with you and put down their card to help you get a postpaid connection. Yes, I know you'd rather not, but it's well worth it.
If you do all of the above, then you should have anywhere between 4-7 'entries' on your credit report. Which not only 'puts you on the map', so to say, but puts you in the 'Active' category, which is very very important.
Don't settle for just 2 or 3 'entries' - get to 4 or more. There will be a marked difference in how other lenders treat you (and your credit score) if you get to 4 or more entries.