Can I get a credit card as a new UK resident?

If you’ve recently moved to the UK, you may find it hard to apply for credit without a UK-based credit history. However, there are ways to improve your chances of being accepted for a credit card when you arrive. 

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How to get a credit card as a new UK resident

If you’re looking to apply for a credit card as a new UK resident, you may want to try lenders that specialise in providing credit to people with a limited or thin credit history.  

Your credit history only includes credit that you’ve taken out in the UK. If you’ve recently moved to the country, your credit report will be limited. Without a credit history, you won't be able to show lenders that you're a responsible borrower. 

To start building UK credit history, you can use a credit builder card, which is for those with thin or less-than-perfect credit. Responsible use of a credit card can help make you eligible for a better rate next time you apply for credit, like for a mortgage or car finance. 

Before applying for a credit card, there are some steps you can take to improve your chances of being accepted:  

Opening a UK bank account

If you’re moving from a country that also has branches in the UK, you may be able to open an account ahead of your move. If not, you’ll have to open a bank account when you arrive.  

All financial service providers need to confirm your identity when you access their services. This applies to bank accounts as well as credit cards.  

When you apply for a bank account, you will need to provide two things:  

  1. Confirmation of identity  Typically, this is either a passport or national identity card.
  2. Confirmation of address Any bill in your name that is sent to your UK address. A council tax or utility bill usually includes both these details. You may also be able to use official correspondence from government departments.  

Establishing a fixed address

One of the first things a lender looks at is where you live now and where you’ve been living for the last three years. 

If you’ve moved a lot recently, or don’t have an address history in the UK, this can make it seem like you’re not settled. Some lenders might not be willing to lend to you as a result. If you don’t need credit right away, it might be best to wait until you’ve been at one address for a while. 

However, if you haven’t been at a fixed address for three years and need a credit card, you may still be able to get one – it may just mean you’re eligible for fewer cards. 

Getting on the electoral roll can also help. It only takes a few minutes to register and helps to confirm your identity and residential address to lenders. 

Paying all bills on time

If you miss a payment on a credit agreement, like water or broadband, your credit score may be affected. Paying all bills on time each month can show lenders that you can manage your finances responsibly. 

Setting up a Direct Debit can make it easier to keep up with bills, as payments will be collected automatically from your current account. 

A mobile phone contract is a good first step to building credit. As it’s a credit agreement, paying it off each month can help build your score. 

For more ways of building credit, discover 45 ways to improve your score - it could boost your chances of being accepted for a card. 

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Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.