You can see the adverts everywhere now, such as this one near Haymarket. “Don’t get caught out by your bank” and “We pay interest from the day you put the cheque in your account”. Hmm. Only a maximum of £1000 in cheques per month. Double hmmm. 0.1% interest – WTF? That’s two whole percentage points *less* than that rate of inflation! I’m actually losing money by having my account with you (if I was stupid enough to do). Rule Number C (not in numerical order): If it is advertised on a thirty foot billboard then it’s not going to be very good, it’ll be a cheap marketing ploy. Avoid any bank that pays less than 2% interest on your current account or you are losing money. Try somewhere like the ethically guided Co-operative Bank (including Smile) or even HSBC’s First Direct amongst others.
First of all, I am happy to say that something does not exist. Not the Mongolian Death Worm, I still hold out hope for that. No, I can confirm that a universal credit score does not exist in the UK. That said, Equifax, one of the two massive credit checking companies in the UK (there is a third but it is minuscule), have their own internal score that they will pass to any company who ask them to do a credit check / scoring for them. It doesn’t guarantee that the company will use it according to Equifax’s rankings but it would be quite probable. Anyone can get their Equifax Score, just pay them £14.50. I don’t imagine too many people rushing off to do that and that’s where this post comes in…
This following information is basically a reconstituted version of the original version that Martin Lewis published on his excellent site Money Saving Expert .com. There is a company called Zopa who broker loans between normal people. You can join to either lend or borrow money. Of course, they need to know what credit risk you will be so when you register they give you of going to Equifax’s website and calculating your credit score … for free! You will have to answer about six questions which are all multiple choice such as “When did you open a credit card with Provider X? a) March 2005 to June 2005 … e) None of the above”. You will have to be 100% accurate or they will fail to recognise you. A score of over 400 puts you in the top half of the UK population and if you get in to the final group, above 475, that puts you together with only 30% of the population. To join Zopa you can register here and then after you’ve got your score you can see what it means from the explanation on Equifax’s website.
Martin Lewis, the UK’s only Money Saving Expert, has finally launched his petition to try to get much loved mathmetician Carol Voderman to *stop* doing adverts for secured loans. It actually launches tomorrow but I very passionately agree with this cause, replacing credit cards with secured loans can result in people losing their homes or paying far more back due to the higher interest rates (than remortgages for example). I was disgusted the first time I saw her new set of adverts, plucking clouds out of the sky as if it were every day that someone put their house down to borrow £25,000 over another 25 years and end up paying back over £30,000 in pure interest. Shame on you Carol. If you want to stop, sign his petition and tell as many UK residents as you can find that have an email address to do the same. Out of interest I was signature number 256, which is very cool if you are into the powers of two.