Some 69% of UK adults don’t know their current credit score, according to a YouGov survey conducted for the 2021 Credit Awareness Week campaign.
Starting today (March 22) and now in its fifth year, the Credit Awareness Week campaign is a joint initiative between Credit Strategy and Experian. It is designed to empower consumers to improve their financial futures, by helping them understand their credit data and how it can help achieve their financial aspirations.
At the core of this activity is a survey undertaken by YouGov that elicits the level of awareness and understanding among UK consumers on what their credit information and score is, but also what it determines for them. The latest survey was undertaken earlier in March of a representative group of more than 2,000 UK adults.
While the study does reveal the clear and evident progress that Credit Awareness Week has made in drawing more UK consumers’ attention to their credit data, it also shows where knowledge gaps can be filled.
The results show nearly half the UK public (46%) have never checked their credit report, a figure which rises to 65% among 18 to 24-year-olds. However, compared to 2017 when this survey was first conducted, nearly 10% more consumers are now checking their credit report and nine percent more know their current credit score.
James Jones, head of consumer affairs at Experian, said: “We’ve made positive strides compared to previous years, with recent progress a likely outcome of COVID-19 encouraging more people to pay greater attention to their personal finances.
“However, the clear message from the findings is that there is much more to do. As an industry, it’s important we empower people with the knowledge to take control of their finances and understand how they can make their credit information work for them.”
As the survey shows, there are still myths that persist around credit information among consumers, with 75% of adults believing a credit blacklist exists that affects their ability to access finance, though this is five percent fewer than five years ago, when 80% of adults believed a blacklist existed.
Many people still wrongly believe credit reference agencies (CRAs) decide credit applications, with nearly a third (30%) believing CRAs decide the outcome of credit card applications, while 21% make the same incorrect assumption for loans.
Ages, gender and demographics
YouGov’s research shows the number of people checking their credit report is highest in the 35-44 age bracket, with 70% of consumers in this group doing so this year, though this drops to 35% of those aged 18-24.
Some 69% of all UK adults don’t know their current credit score although, perhaps more encouragingly, the results show 45% of individuals aged 25-34 do know it.
One of the very few differences in results between genders was in awareness of credit limits. Some 60% of men know the credit limit on their main credit card, but only 14% of women said they knew theirs.
Credit scores by area
As well as depicting demographic results via the survey, Experian has produced, as part of the campaign, an updated credit score map, which reveals the average scores of 391 areas across the UK.
Encouragingly, the average UK Experian Credit Score has been rising year-on-year to 792 in 2020, up from 776 in 2019 and 767 in 2018.
Lisa Fretwell, managing director of data services at Experian, will be discussing the results of the survey at Credit Strategy’s Parliamentary Briefing on Thursday March 25.