Blogs > Useful Information / Life in the UK

How to get a credit card if you are new to the UK

  • January 24, 2020

When you first move to the UK, it will be hard to get a credit card, a financed car, get a mortgage or get a bank loan. This is due to the lack of a credit history you have in the UK. Unfortunately, you cannot transfer your credit rating from your home country to the UK. So, you will essentially be starting again.

Without a present credit history, lenders won’t have any information on you to determine whether you can manage credit responsibly and may therefore class you as high risk, making them reluctant to lend to you.

In this blog post, we share how to build up some positive credit history in the UK to help you with your short-term goals such as obtaining a credit card or long-term goals... buying a house! Please note, we are not financial advisors and this blog post is simply a guide. Please consult a professional for further information.

What is included in my credit score?

  • Name, address and date of birth
  • Past credit applications
  • Credit repayment history, including late or missed payments
  • Your existing debt
  • Your electoral register presence
  • Any joint credit cards or loans
  • If you have been declared bankrupt or have an IVA
  • Any county court judgements (CCJ’s)
  • Current account turnover

What is not included in my credit score?

  • Student loans
  • Medical history
  • Council tax arrears
  • Criminal record
  • Parking or driving fines

Step 1: Employment

Most lenders require evidence of proof of a regular income. So, being employed by the NHS you will be able to evidence a consistent income.

Step 2: Get a UK address

Most lenders will not give you credit without proof of a UK address. So, the first step is to secure a permanent residence. Please note, when you go to open a UK high street bank account you will need to show proof of address. If you are yet to secure permanent accommodation, you can evidence your Air B n B’s address.

Step 3: Open a UK Bank Account

Although this is not essential to apply for credit, it is advisable that you open a bank account in the UK as it will make you more attractive to lenders. Having a UK bank account means that you can pay bills by direct debit, receive your salary and transfer money abroad. If you would like our advice on how to open a bank account in the UK, please do read our blog post here.

Step 4: Create some Positive History in the UK

If you can show that you manage credit responsibly, you are more likely to get better interest rates in the future. You have a number of options available to you when you first arrive:

  1. Open a high interest credit card – Make sure that you spend little each month, pay back in full and stay within your credit limit otherwise it will have a negative effect on your credit rating. Example high interest cards, please check with each provider as rates regularly change.
    1. The Aqua Card – Typical 35.9% APR variable and up to 51 days interest free credit on purchases if you pay off your balance in full and on time each month
    2. The Capital One Classic: Typical 34.9% APR variable
    3. The Barclaycard Initial: Typical 27.9% APR variable
  2. Put bills in your name (where possible) and pay them by direct debit
  3. Open a couple of store cards as they are usually easier to get than standard rate credit cards but always pay them off in full every month and you got another way to show you can handle your finances responsibly.

Step 5: Time your applications wisely

Applying for lots of credit in a short space of time and being rejected is not good for your credit rating. You can try leaving between three and six months between applications to hep repair your credit rating, however, the process will take longer. One example is a mobile phone contract, car insurance, car finance and a credit card can count towards this.

Step 6: Curb your card spending

When you do get issued a credit card, you should try to minimise any debt on your cards. As a rule of thumb, you should try to keep the debt on a card under 30% of your credit card limit.

Relocation to the UK

If you are an international doctor who has decided that you would like our support in securing an NHS service post, email your CV to [email protected] and we can support you in securing an NHS job and on your journey to the UK today.

Are you a member of our Facebook Group? When you join IMG Advisor, you will join a community of doctors all looking to relocate to the UK and join the NHS. We post a series of blogs and vlogs into the group every single day. We will also always be on hand to answer all your relocation queries.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel! We have over 60 videos on everything you need to know about relocating to the UK and joining the NHS!


Focus, E. (2020). Moving or Moved to the UK? A Guide to Credit and Financial Freedom | Expat Focus. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 Jan. 2020].


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