Even if you’re in the armed forces you will find you will probably need some type of credit in the future. We’ve pulled together some useful information for all armed forces personnel who are looking to view, build or improve their Experian Credit Score.
If you’re in the armed forces you may not have a UK address, might have a BFPO address or have an unusual format of address. Also, you may have had little use for credit in the past. This sometimes means it can be a little more difficult to build your credit history when you’re serving in the armed forces.
There are things you can do to help your report be positive as possible. This means it will look better to lenders when you apply for credit, giving you a better chance of getting access to credit at the best rates.
Why your credit report matters
Your credit report contains information about you such as electoral roll and public financial information (e.g. court judgments and insolvencies). It also contains information about your financial behaviour over the past six years. It shows how well you manage a range of accounts including credit cards, bank accounts, mobile phone contracts and even utilities. When you apply for credit lenders will use the information on your credit report, along with your application form details and any records they may already have, to generate a credit score for you.
How to get your report
Checking your report is particularly important if you:
- Are about to apply for credit
- Have recently been refused credit
- Believe there may be a discrepancy on your report
- Wish to improve your credit rating
It’s sensible to check your credit reports from time to time with each of the three main credit reference agencies – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
Ordering from the UK
Depending on where you are located, you will need to obtain a copy of your report in different ways.
If you are located within the UK, you can order your Experian Statutory Report. You will receive your report in the post, or a passcode will be sent in the mail to allow you access online.
Ordering from an overseas (or BFPO) address
If you are based overseas or at a barracks, you will need to order your report in a slightly different way. This will allow you to view a copy of your statutory report, which will be sent to your BFPO address. All you need to do is send us:
- A copy of either your passport, armed forces ID, birth certificate or driving licence
- Copies of two documents linking you to your BFPO address dated in the last three months
- A copy of at least one document from your last UK address
- Your full name, date of birth and your UK address history in the last six years
We are happy to accept photocopies of these documents and strongly advise you not to send the originals.
If you have no documents you may send us a letter requesting a credit report, including your unit stamp and the signature of your immediate commanding officer confirming your identity. This must also include:
- Your service number and rank
- Your Unit/Regiment
- Your BFPO number
- Your full name, date of birth and your UK address history over the last six years
Please send these to:
Customer Support Centre, Experian Ltd, PO Box 8000, Nottingham, NG80 7WF, United Kingdom.
When you register on the electoral roll, this will show on the credit report and will provide companies or lenders who view your report with a key piece of information to enable them to check your identity.
If you are registered as an overseas service voter and do not have a UK address, you will be registered at a ‘nominal’ address, which will not show on your credit report.
If you aren’t showing as registered on the electoral roll then you could do the following things:
- Register to vote at a UK address if possible (for example a parent’s or partner’s address). You could also use this as your main address for your credit accounts if you choose. Unless you are financially linked to the person - which happens if you have applied for joint credit together in the past - registering your electoral roll or account details at someone’s address will have no effect on their credit report.
- Put a short statement on your report to explain why you cannot register on the electoral roll, called a Notice of Correction. This is a statement of up to 200 words and can help explain to future lenders why you are not currently registered, and could supply further information to verify your identity.
Your credit accounts
It is possible that many of your credit accounts may well be registered at your BFPO address. It’s likely that these will not show on your credit report as they are not registered under a UK standard address or postcode.
If you have credit accounts that do not show on your credit report then there’s a couple of things you could do:
- Register the accounts under a UK based address. This could be the address of your parents or partner, for example. Please remember that doing this has no impact on the credit reports of other occupants at that address unless you are financially linked.
- Write a note on your credit report (called a Notice of Correction) to explain that you do have credit agreements registered under your BFPO address and can provide evidence if required.
By registering details at a UK address your accounts should show correctly on your credit report. If you do add a note then it won’t change your score, but it will give lenders the opportunity to review and request details if required.
Tips to improve
Building a good credit rating takes time. Make sure all the relevant information under your name is showing.
There are some key things to remember when looking to build or improve your credit report:
- Register on the electoral roll
- Make all your payments on time
- Don’t make too many credit applications
- Use credit builder cards
- Keep overall borrowing low
Get help if you need it
If you get into financial difficulty then seek advice quickly. Don’t wait until you have late or missed payments, or something more serious like a judgment or a default account. Here’s a list of some places to seek free advice if you need it:
For further information then please refer to the two guides below, looking at how to improve your credit rating, and how to build your credit rating from scratch.
If you are experiencing difficulties obtaining your credit report or need help or advice about a credit report you have already received please contact us and we will do our best to help you.
You can also check a number of useful online guides to take you through the process of building and maintaining a good credit report whilst in the armed forces.
- Credit rating advice on the MoneyForce website, a joint initiative between Standard Life Charitable Trust, The Royal British Legion and the Ministry of Defence
- Understand why registering to vote is important to credit and ID checks
- Financial top tips for service personnel - two helpful guides produced by the main lending trade bodies and the Ministry of Defence
- Explore a sample Experian credit report
The Armed Forces Corporate Covenant
In 2013 Experian signed The Armed Forces Corporate Covenant. This is a commitment to recognise the value of service personnel, and we endeavour to uphold these principles:
- No member of the Armed Forces Community should face disadvantage in the provision of public and commercial services compared to any other citizen
- In some circumstances special treatment may be appropriate especially for the injured or bereaved