Chip and PIN
This is the security system that allows you to shop safely with your credit card.
Never share your PIN number with anyone, as if your card is later stolen or goes missing you may forfeit any protection you would have had from your lender if they discover that someone else had access to the digits.
Credit card agreement
This is the agreement you make with your lender that they will provide a certain service and you will repay the money you borrow. You should receive a copy of this when you are accepted for the credit card you have applied for.
Credit builder / credit booster card
If your credit rating and history are not what you hoped for – either because you have had difficulties repaying your borrowing in the past or you have never borrowed – it can be much harder to take out credit.
However, it's not impossible, and a credit builder card may be what you're looking for. These typically come with a lower spending limit and a higher interest rate than most other cards, but they are designed for people with poor credit scores and non-existent credit histories to build up their credit rating.
Used responsibly, by paying your minimum payment on time and staying within your credit limit, this type of card could help make you appear a more attractive customer to lenders in the future. However, not doing so could harm your credit rating.
This is a detailed record of your borrowing for the last six years and is one of the things lenders use to determine whether or not to accept your credit card information.
Things like missed or late payments can show up on your credit history for up to six years and may make borrowing difficult during this time. Similarly, if you have no credit history to speak of you may also find it hard to borrow, as lenders don't have the reassurance they're after that you have used credit responsibly in the past.
– The credit limit is the total amount you are able to borrow on your credit card at any one time.
Once you have reached this limit, you will need to pay off some or all of the balance to be able to borrow on the card again. If you exceed this limit, there may be a charge and it could also affect your credit score, so take care not to do this.
Credit rating / score
This is a single score applied to your credit report once factors like your credit history and other details such as whether you are registered on the electoral roll have been taken into account.
It isn't a permanent score and changes along with your borrowing history, and it's one of the things used by lenders to help them decide whether to lend to you.
You can access your credit rating and report through one of the credit reference agencies, or a third party like Ocean.
Credit reference agency
These are the companies that provide lenders with detailed credit data.
The three main ones are Experian, Equifax and Callcredit. As well, as providing lenders with information on your credit report, they must also provide it to you if you request it.