How to get a mortgage with bad credit

illustration of How to get a mortgage with bad credit

Applying for a mortgage can be daunting, especially if you have bad credit. The good news is it's definitely possible to get a mortgage with a poor credit score, but you'll have fewer options than if you had a perfect credit score.

There are specialist mortgage lenders who have experience lending to people with bad credit. You’ll need a specialist mortgage broker to find you one of these lenders.

In this Guide, you'll find information about bad credit mortgages, and practical steps for how to get a mortgage with bad credit.

What is classed as bad credit?

‘Bad credit’ is a term used to describe when you have had credit issues in the past. 

Bad credit is often classed as a low credit score. Your credit score is a number that tells lenders how reliable you are when it comes to borrowing money. A good credit rating can unlock better deals and interest rates for you, while a bad credit rating can make things more difficult when it comes to borrowing on credit cards, loans, or mortgages.

You can end up with a bad credit history for many different reasons. It could be a missed or late credit card or loan repayment, a payday loan or applying for multiple credit cards. Sometimes these things can result in CCJs, IVAs, a debt management plan (DMP) or even bankruptcy. All of these can affect your credit score.

When you have bad credit, you're considered riskier than other borrowers, so it can be harder to get a good deal with competitive interest rates. If you have very poor credit, you may find you're turned down flat by some lenders.

Read more about what makes a bad credit score in our Guide: What is a Bad Credit Score? 

How is my credit score measured?

There are a few different credit reference agencies in the UK. And each one has their own way of creating your credit score. Because of this, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all credit score. You’re ranked differently by different credit agencies who have their own scales. The biggest UK credit agencies are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

A few different factors can contribute to how you rank with credit agencies. These include:

  • Your borrowing history – what you’ve borrowed, who you’ve borrowed it from, and how you’ve paid it back

  • Public court records – any issues like county court judgements or bankruptcy

  • Linked finances – if you have any joint accounts, the credit history of the person you’re linked to can be taken into account

How do I know if I have bad credit?

When it comes to credit issues, it’s best to face them head on. The first step is to get an accurate, up-to-date and detailed look at your credit history and credit score.

We recommend using checkmyfile* – it’s the UK’s most detailed and trusted credit report service. They’ve been helping people understand the credit system for over 20 years, and are the UK’s top ranked credit report service on Trustpilot. 

You can see how to get the most out of checkmyfile in our Guide: Checkmyfile Explained 

*Heads up, when you click through to our affiliate links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. We only recommend sites we truly trust and believe in.

How long does bad credit last?

Most adverse items on your credit report will disappear after six years. This includes bankruptcy, CCJs, defaults and missed payments.

Any accounts that you leave open will stay on your credit history. UK credit reference agencies need to adhere to the Data Protection Act, which means data can't be held for longer than necessary. This is why accounts you keep open stay on your record, and closed accounts are deleted after six years.

What is a bad credit score in the UK?

Because there’s no such thing as a universal credit score, there isn’t a ‘Bad’ credit score that’s universally recognised. However, the lower the number, the worse your score is. UK credit reference agencies all have their own scales. Below is what a Bad score looks like between the different agencies:


Equifax: 280 – 379 (out of 700)

Experian: 561 – 720 and above (out of 999)

TransUnion: 561 – 565 and above (out of 710)


Equifax: 0 – 279 (out of 700)

Experian: 0 – 561 (our of 999)

TransUnion: 0 – 550 (out of 710)

Whether you have a Poor or Very Poor credit score depends on which of the credit reference agencies you check your credit score with.

How can I improve my credit score?

Building a good credit can take time, but there are some surprisingly simple ways you can improve your credit score straight away.

Here are some surprisingly simple ways to improve your credit score:

  • Get on the electoral roll at your current address

  • Leave time between any credit applications 

  • Put your name on some household bills – and pay them on time!

  • Pay at least the minimum balance on your credit cards each month

  • Try not to withdraw cash from your credit card too often

  • Don’t use too much of your credit limit – 30% is usually a good rule

If you’re looking to apply for a mortgage soon but are worried about your credit score, you can read our Guide: How to Improve Your Credit Score Before Applying for a Mortgage 

How does bad credit affect my chances of getting a mortgage?

Having bad credit doesn't mean you can't get a mortgage. It can make things harder than if you had a perfect score, but it doesn't make homeownership impossible.

Most big banks and mortgage lenders probably won't lend to you if you have a Poor or Very Poor credit rating, but there's specialist mortgage companies who will be willing to consider you. While you may be able to get a mortgage with a low credit score, you may have to pay a higher interest rate or be asked to put down a bigger deposit. 

Over half of the mortgages for people with bad credit aren't directly available to you as a borrower, they're only available through specialist lenders who work with bad credit brokers. These lenders view each application on a case-by-case basis. 

Always be prepared to discuss and explain your credit history with your mortgage broker who’ll explain the situation to lenders when they’re making an application for you. A lot of mainstream lenders don’t accept people with bad credit, but it just means you need to find the right, specialist lender instead.

Depending on your specific situation, you might find that your interest rate is higher and that you’re asked to put down a larger deposit when buying your home. But speaking to one of our friendly Mortgage Experts means you’re likely to find the right mortgage for you.

Get in touch to find out your options.

What credit score do I need to get a mortgage?

There isn’t a specific score needed to get a mortgage, because there's no such thing as a universally recognised credit score. 

When you apply for a mortgage, lenders look at a number of factors to assess your risk and work out if you'll be able to make the repayments without struggling. Generally, the higher your score, the more chance you'll have of being accepted for a mortgage, and getting the best rates.

Checking how you score across the main UK credit agencies before applying for a mortgage will give you an idea of how risky you might look to lenders. You can do this for free with a trial of checkmyfile (usually £14.99 a month, cancel any time).

Is it harder to get a mortgage if I’m a first-time buyer and have bad credit?

No, the fact that you're a first-time buyer won't matter to a mortgage company. Their decision to offer you a mortgage will depend on the details of your credit history and how much of a risk you appear to be. If you’re a first-time buyer with bad credit, check out this page all about it: Mortgages for First-time Buyers with Bad Credit

Lenders will need to assess what issues caused you to have bad credit, when they happened, and what you did to resolve them. For example, missed or late payments will have less of an impact than a CCJ

There’s a number of other factors that mortgage lenders will use to decide whether or not to approve your application, and if you're doing it for the first time it can feel overwhelming. Our Mortgage Experts have seen it all and aren't judgemental – see how it works 

Is it harder to get a mortgage if I’m self-employed and have bad credit?

If you're self-employed and have bad credit, it can be difficult - but not impossible - to get a mortgage. Because you fall into two special categories, the right lender will be harder to find if you try to do it by yourself.

It's a good idea to get help from a specialist broker, who knows the market and has helped people just like you get accepted for mortgages. They'll also be on hand every step of the way with guidance and advice. They'll know how to make your application look good to lenders.

If you're self-employed with bad credit, there's a few things you can do to help with your application:

  • Check your credit report and correct any faults (see how to do it here)

  • Pay off as much of your debts as possible before making your application

  • If you can, put down more money up front with a bigger deposit

  • Pull together your accounts from the last three years

How do I get a mortgage with bad credit?

Applying for a mortgage can be daunting. It can be even more stressful if you have bad credit. The good news is: it’s definitely possible to get a mortgage with a low credit rating. You’ll just need to make sure you’re doing as much as you can to help your application. 

Here are eight steps for getting a mortgage with bad credit:

1. Check your score

First thing’s first – you’ll need to know where you stand. It’s the only way you’ll know how to improve. For a detailed and thorough overview of everything on your credit record, go to checkmyfile

Checkmyfile shows you the information from all three credit checkers on the same report. And you can download your report for free with a 30-day trial (usually £14.99 a month, cancel any time). Once you know where you’re starting from, you’ll have a clearer vision of what you need to do to improve. 

2. Make easy changes to your credit report

There are some small factors which can affect your credit rating. Some simple things you can do:

  • Get on the electoral roll at your current address

  • Identify any faults on your record and ask the creditor to remove them

  • Leave some time between any credit applications 

  • Get your name on some household bills – and pay them on time

  • Try not to move around too much – lenders like fixed addresses

  • Pay at least the minimum balance on your credit cards each month

  • Try not to withdraw cash from your credit card too often

  • Don’t use too much of your credit limit – 30% is usually a good rule

3. Get a specialist mortgage broker

If you have poor credit, it’s a good idea to work with a specialist mortgage broker. Our Mortgage Experts have access to the lenders who’ll look at your application and consider your unique circumstances. They can help you through the entire journey, from application right through to completion. They know the market, and will make your application look as appealing as possible to lenders. 

A mortgage broker can: 

  • Ease the stress of applying for a mortgage

  • Give you access to a wider range of mortgages

  • Help with complex situations

  • Speed up the process

  • Protect you

  • Consider your wider needs

Here's 6 Reasons why you should use a mortgage broker. 

4. Be patient

Time is a healer. Any marks on your record will lose their impact the older they get. If you’re continually working to improve your financial situation then this will look better to lenders. If you’re able, it might be better to wait before applying for a mortgage and improve your credit record. 

5. Know your partner’s situation

If you’re applying for a joint mortgage, your partner’s credit history will be viewed alongside your own. Most lenders will add your credit scores together, and you’ll need to meet their minimum score to be considered. Make sure they’re also doing everything they can to get into the routine of good habits.

6. Decrease your risk

If you have a bad credit rating, it’s a good idea to wait until you have a stable income or large deposit before applying for a mortgage. This is more likely to offset any bad credit history and make you look less risky as a borrower.

7. Be honest

It’s not a good idea to try and hide any negative credit issues. Mortgage applications are thorough, so lenders will probably find out. Having an explanation ready for why you found yourself in financial difficulty, and what you’ve been doing to get out of it since then, will look a lot better to lenders. Things happen, and you’re only human – but be upfront about it.

8. Don’t panic

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. According to a study from the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, people can feel ‘trapped’ by poor credit ratings. Remember, you’re not just a number on a screen, but a whole person with a unique situation and set of needs. Sorting things out might feel like a daunting task, but knowing where you stand and checking what you can do is a good place to start. 

We specialise in bad credit mortgages here at Haysto. So we completely understand the frustration. If you’re worried about how your credit history might affect your mortgage application, make an enquiry and one of our friendly Mortgage Experts will talk through your options.  


Our Mortgage Experts are fully-qualified with experience in bad credit, self-employed and complex mortgages. They have a proven track record of getting mortgages for people who’ve been rejected elsewhere.

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