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Getting Credit for the First Time

If you are new to the country or young, you may struggle to get accepted for credit as you don't have any credit history.Read on to find out how you can improve your chances of being given a credit card or loan.

What is Credit?

Credit is basically borrowing money. A company extends you a line of credit that you can spend, then you have to meet the repayment terms. There are numerous types of credit – credit cards, loans, mortgages, hire purchase agreements and overdrafts, for example. Other credit agreements might include mobile phone contracts and gym memberships, where you are allowed access to goods or services in return for regular monthly payments.

How Do Lenders Decide Who to Lend To?

Lenders base their decision about whether to lend to you on several factors:

  • Your home status - Are you settled at one address? Do you own your own home? g* Your income - Can you afford to repay the loan?

  • Your credit report - This is the tricky one for first-time borrowers. This should be a way lenders can look at how you have handled credit in the past, and then they can make a judgement on whether they trust you to repay their money. If you’ve never borrowed money before, your credit report won’t contain enough information for lenders to base a decision on. So, they are likely to reject you.

How to Improve Your Chances of Acceptance

Getting accepted for credit is a bit of a financial beauty contest - you need to make your credit rating attractive to lenders. For full details on how to do this read our guide to improving your credit rating. If you don't have a credit report yet - as you've never taken out credit - here's how to start building one:

  • Make sure you're on the electoral roll. This reassures lenders that you really do live where you claim.

  • Open and manage a current account. Do not go over your authorised overdraft limit as this appears irresponsible.

  • Pay bills by direct debit. Missed credit repayments go on your credit file, so always make sure your bills are paid on time.

  • Get a landline telephone. It might sound strange, but lenders perceive borrowers with a landline to be more ‘stable’ and reliable than those with a mobile.

  • Try not to move house or job too often. Again this can make borrowers appear unreliable. Lenders like you to have a stable job and home.

Avoid County Court Judgements

If you owe money and don't pay it back, your creditors may eventually take you to court. If an order is granted against you, it's called a county court judgment, or CCJ. This outlines exactly how much you have to repay and is rubber stamped by the court. If you don't pay up, your creditor may send bailiffs to your home or take money directly from your wages or bank account. Getting a CCJ damages your credit rating because it immediately flags up to lenders that you have debt problems. This lowers your chances of getting accepted for credit

What Products Are Available?

A Credit Card

If you’re looking for your first credit card, start by tapping your details into our credit comparison service. It only takes a minute and then we'll present you with a list of the credit cards you are most likely to be accepted for. If nothing comes up due to your lack of credit history you still have a couple of options. The bank where you hold your current account is more likely than other lenders to give you a credit card because you already have a relationship with it and it knows your financial history. If your bank won’t give you a credit card, consider applying for a credit-building credit card. This type of card will have a high APR and low credit limit but if you use it correctly - by paying off the balance in full each month - it can help improve your credit score. Once lenders have seen that you can handle credit responsibly they will be more willing to lend you money at better rates.

An Overdraft

If you have a current account, ask your bank for an overdraft. This will allow you access to a small amount of credit, which providing you use it responsibly - don't go beyond your limit - will help improve your credit rating. Just keep an eye on the interest rate, some banks offer interest-free overdrafts but others charge eye-watering interest rates.


It’s not a good idea to make multiple credit applications in a short space of time. Most applications will leave a footprint on your credit record and footprints can be seen by other lenders checking your report. Too many suggest you are desperate for cash which makes lenders less keen to lend you money. So, before you make any applications use our comparison tool to work out who is most likely to accept you application. That way you only need to make one application.

We're on a mission to help everyone move their finances forward and gain financial momentum.

TotallyMoney is an independent credit broker, not a lender. Our comparison service works with most leading lenders, covering the majority of the market. Though we may be paid a fee by lenders or brokers this never influences how our products are ranked.

We don't provide financial advice. Product information is obtained from independent sources and rates displayed may vary depending on your personal circumstances. While we make every effort to ensure that information is up to date, you should always confirm the terms of the offer with the product provider.

TotallyMoney is owned and operated by TotallyMoney Limited which is registered in England and Wales (Company Registration Number 06205695). TotallyMoney Limited is an Appointed Representative of TM Connect Limited, which is registered in England and Wales (Company Registration Number 06967012) and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in respect of consumer credit related activities (FCA FRN: 511936). Registered Office: 5th Floor, Halo, Counterslip, Bristol, BS1 6AJ. Credit is available, subject to status, only to UK residents aged 18 or over.

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