As many as one in four people face problems applying for a credit card and it is not just the poor who can find lenders less than willing to help.
Anyone who has had credit problems in the past will find their options severely limited. Others might never have had credit before, but that in itself can provide a barrier to obtaining credit.
Fortunately there are a small number of credit card providers who won't automatically reject you because of past financial difficulties. Through this site you can see which credit cards are aimed at people with a bad credit rating.
When assessing a persons application for credit, lenders look at two areas: the persons credit history and their credit score. A bad credit history will certainly amount to a low or poor credit rating, but a clean credit history, or none at all, is no guarantee of a good credit score either.
Since the economic downturn, lenders have become far more selective and are examining all aspects of an applicant's credit history in greater detail. As a result, more and more people have experienced the frustration of turned down for a credit card. Even a minor discrepancy in an otherwise immaculate borrowing record significantly increases the chances of rejection.
Whether you'll be accepted for a credit card will depend solely on whether the lender deems you to be too risky a prospect. Some lenders might say 'yes' to you while others might say 'no'. There is certainly no list of people who shouldn't be granted a credit card. Lenders will examine your credit file through a credit reference agency. The information contained on your credit report combined with the details you provide on the application will enable the lender to determine a credit score for you and this is what is used to identify the risk in offering you credit.
There is no single credit score for each person as each company has its own rules, placing differing levels of emphasis on particular pieces of information.
Bankruptcy, CCJs, defaults, arrears
Few lenders will consider credit card applications from undischarged bankrupts, and being declared bankrupt in the past will be a major obstacle. Serious problems such as county court judgements (CCJ), bankruptcy or defaults on a loan will stay on file for six years; bankruptcies and CCJs are a matter of public record, with details held by the courts.
Less serious, but still problematic is a history of missing payments on a personal loan, credit card or a mortgage. Mortgage arrears are given particular weight by lenders. A default - where a lender has effectively given up chasing repayments - is also extremely serious. Anyone in this situation will find it hard to
procure further credit.
One or two late payments on a credit card might not be a problem. Typically, lenders will only contact credit reference agencies once an account has been in the red for some time, so being a day or two late with a monthly payment should not create a black mark. Lenders, though, are looking for habitual late payment which suggests the borrower is struggling to cope.
Multiple applications for credit
Multiple applications for credit, successful or not, can be an issue. Each time someone applies for a card, personal loan or a store card, a credit search is undertaken by the lender. Each search leaves a "footprint" on the individual's credit reference file. This is not necessarily a problem, but too many footprints can trigger warning bells for lenders.
Higher interest rates with a poor credit history
A poor credit rating is likely to cost you money as your status will preclude you from access to the best credit card deals which are usually reserved only for people with an impeccable credit profile. People with a poor score or a blemished credit record, will be charged higher rates to compensate lenders for the increased risk they pose.
Credit cards with poor credit rating
The good news is some issuers in the UK offer a flexible assessment process which allows them to consider all applications fairly whatever the credit history of the applicant. Ultimately, the likelihood of being able to get a credit card depends on your own individual circumstances and whether the lender perceives you to be too greater risk.
Capital One's Classic Visa Card is aimed at people with a bad credit history who might have been refused a card in the the past. The card is aimed at helping people strengthen and rebuild their credit history. The card offers credit of between £200 and £1,500, with no annual fee. The initial annual percentage rate (APR) is high, but may be reduced once you build up a steady payment record.
There are only a small number of lenders willing to accept individuals with past credit problems, with just a few credit cards for people with poor credit available in the UK.
Improve your credit rating
Although the so called 'bad credit credit cards' come with the drawback of high interest rates, providing you clear balances regularly and avoid falling in to the trap of missing payments and thereby compounding your situation, opening a credit card account can help you build, rehabilitate or repair your credit rating. It takes a while for your new credit history to gain momentum, but in due course, sensibly using a credit card will help boost your standing with lenders, making you appear more reliable and creditworthy.