What is eligibility?
Your eligibility is how likely you are to be approved for a specific credit deal, based on how your credit information matches up with the lender's criteria.
Lenders won't share their criteria with you directly, so in the past you may have had to actually apply for credit just to find out if you're eligible. The downside of this is that applications for credit leave a hard credit search on your credit report, which lenders can see. This may lower your score and reduce your chances of getting credit in the future.
But there is a way of checking your eligibility before you apply – and without affecting your score. You'll see your eligibility rating for individual credit cards and personal loans when you compare them with Experian. This rating indicates your chances of getting approved for a specific offer. Your score won't be affected, because comparing deals only leaves a soft credit search on your report, which lenders can't see.
Just remember, we're a credit broker, not a lender†. This means we can help you find deals, but we don't provide credit or decide whether to approve you.
How is my eligibility rating calculated?
Your eligibility rating is calculated by matching your data against the lender's criteria. The lender and other credit reference agencies may be contacted for information about you – so you may see a soft search on your reports from other credit reference agencies, as well as on your Experian credit report. But don't worry – a soft search won't impact your score with any company.
Your credit report includes things like:
- How much money you already owe, e.g. on a credit card or mortgage
- Your regular payments and whether you make them on time
- How many credit accounts you have and how old they are
- Your credit limits and how much you use of them
- Whether you're registered to vote
- People who you share finances with, called your 'financial associates'
- Publicly available information, e.g. whether you have a County Court Judgement
What are lenders' criteria?
This is what lenders want to see in a customer, in order to approve them for credit. The criteria you need to meet can vary between different lenders and deals. They can include things like:
- If you've applied for credit recently
- Your outstanding balance on other credit accounts
- Whether you've missed any payments recently
- Whether you're employed full-time
- How much you earn
What do lenders look at?
When you apply for credit, lenders check if you meet their criteria by looking at various factors – these may include:
- Information from your credit report
- Your application form
- Other data they have about you, if you've been a customer before
How can I see my loan and credit card eligibility?
Before searching for deals, it's helpful to know what you're looking for:
- If you're looking for a credit card, decide which type of credit card you want
- If it's a loan you're after, you'll need to know how long you want to borrow for, and how much you want to borrow.
When you compare deals with us, we may ask you for personal details and financial information. This is so we can confirm who you are, and access your credit information to compare against lenders' criteria.
To compare deals faster, you can create a free Experian account. Once set up, you won't have to input lots of information every time you want to compare credit and check your eligibility. This is particularly useful because your eligibility rating may change over time, and because you may want to come back and compare new offers.
What does my eligibility rating mean?
Your eligibility rating will appear as a percentage next to each result when you compare credit cards and personal loans. This number represents the likelihood of you being accepted for that credit deal – the higher it is, the better your chances.
You may also see a pre-approval label – this is the best eligibility rating you can have. It means that if you apply for this deal, you should be approved for it and at the rates shown. However, it's important to understand this isn't a guarantee of your approval, and conditions may apply.
Benefits of checking your eligibility rating
Knowing your eligibility for credit comes with lots of advantages:
- You can save time. You can filter for suitable deals faster, and you won't waste time applying for credit that you're less likely to be approved for.
- You can protect your score. Applying for multiple deals over a short period can lower your score. But by only applying for credit you're more likely to get, you won't have to use a scattergun approach – that means fewer applications, and fewer marks on your report.
How can I improve my credit eligibility?
The best way to improve your eligibility rating is to make yourself look better to lenders. You can get an idea of how lenders see you by checking your free Experian Credit Score. There are several ways you may be able to increase your score, which should help improve your eligibility for better deals.