Does gambling affect your credit score?


author image-sarah
By Sarah Watts
Updated on Tuesday 17 August 2021

A man gambling on a computer

Big football tournaments like the recent Euro 2020 can make gambling more popular than ever, especially when bookmakers like Paddy Power entice gamblers with so-called ‘free bets’.

The National Gambling Helpline reported a 5% increase in calls during the last World Cup 2018. In fact, Gamcare, who run the National Gambling Helpline, recently launched a ‘TalkBanStop’ campaign highlighting the harmful impact of betting on women leading up to the Euro 2020.

What many eager punters don’t realise is that gambling transactions on a bank statement can mean a red card for some credit applications, with many lenders seeing regular betting as irresponsible spending.

Zuto, a car finance provider, has assessed how gambling can influence your credit eligibility and if you’ve recently had an application for a loan, credit card or mortgage declined, excessive gambling could very well be the reason.

Do banks check if you gamble?

Yes, many British financial companies and banks are embracing ‘open banking’ and if you authorise ‘open banking’ when you apply to borrow money, this means potential lenders can have a snoop at your income and expenditure.

If a bank notices frequent gambling activity, most will then delve deeper and scrutinise how much and how often you’re gambling, and how this stacks up against your account balance and income.

If your bank statements are riddled with betting transactions and you’re maxed out on credit, borrowing money will prove challenging and attempts to do so will very often result in a declined credit application.

Can gambling stop you from getting a mortgage?

Yes, if you’re a regular gambler and you’re going into the red to fund your expensive hobby or addiction then your mortgage application could be declined, especially if you’re regularly betting large chunks of your income.

However, if you occasionally have a little flutter on a big event like the Grand National or buy a lottery ticket most weeks and you have a credit utilisation rate of 30% or less then, no, gambling shouldn’t stop you from getting a mortgage, but other issues could.

When you apply for a mortgage, before approving your credit application, a lender will assess whether you’re a credit risk by looking at:

  • Your overdraft: if you have an unarranged overdraft or are permanently near your overdraft limit, this could make a lender think you’re a high-risk borrower.
  • Bounced cheques or returned direct debits: if there are payments you were unable to honour shown on your bank statements, again, a lender will deem you as financially irresponsible.
  • Outstanding debt: if you have payments to debt collection agencies showing up on your statements, this will flag up to a lender that you have defaulted on a credit relationship and are struggling financially.
  • Payday loans: this type of borrowing usually indicates someone is desperate for money and has a poor credit history.
  • Credit score: if you have a low credit rating and a credit report peppered with refused credit applications, then your chances of getting a mortgage are slim, unless you have collateral, a large deposit and/or a guarantor.
  • Declined credit application: when a lender checks your financial history, any recently declined applications for credit on your credit files will be a red flag. For this reason, before applying for a mortgage, you should avoid making any other type of credit application in the three months or more prior.
  • Your salary and deposit: if you’re on a low income and only have a small deposit, some mainstream lenders will be much less likely to offer you a mortgage unless you have collateral (i.e. a property) or a guarantor.
  • Credit utilisation: most financial experts recommend keeping your credit utilisation rate under 30% meaning that you should only use 30% of the credit available to you to prove to a lender you’re not desperate for money. It can also hurt your financial credibility by not using any credit at all. This is because you will have no financial record of what type of borrower you are when a lender needs to assess your creditworthiness.

To stand the best chance of success with a mortgage application, you should look at your credit report to check what a potential lender will be able to see.

There are three main credit reference agencies in the United Kingdom,  namely: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Any lender can run a credit check with one or more of these agencies so it’s best to check your report with all three. To save time, you can easily request a free multi-agency report from checkmyfile.com.

If you find any anomalies on one or more of your credit reports (i.e. debts or credit applications you have no recollection of whatsoever), then you may have been the victim of fraud. If you discover fraudulent activity on your report, then you should immediately contact the lender to let them know this as soon as possible. For more detailed information on what to do in such circumstances, check out our guide: How to fix your credit after being scammed.

If you have a low credit rating, there are several things you can do to give it a boost such as:

  • Making sure you’re registered on the Electoral Roll - all mortgage lenders will ask you to provide proof of your address by providing them with a recent bank statement and utility bill. However, if your name is on the Electoral Register, this will further enhance the lender’s trust in you and will have a positive effect on your credit score.
  • Paying your bills on time - being in control of your finances and making payments in full and on time will help your credit score.
  • Severing any financial relationships with someone who has bad credit - if you have a joint account with someone who has a poor credit history, this financial association can very often affect your own rating.
  • Use a credit building tool like Experian Boost or Loqbox - if you have very little in the way of credit history or no history at all, then you should either take out a credit building credit card or use a credit building service so a lender has something to ‘go on’ when assessing your creditworthiness.
  • Lower your credit utilisation to 30% or less - as mentioned above, whilst it’s good to utilise credit to show how you handle doing so responsibly, it’s never a good idea to max out on the credit you have available. If you use a small portion of your credit, it proves to a lender that you’re not desperate for money and can resist the temptation of buying everything you want on credit, rather than waiting until you can afford to do so.

Can gambling affect you getting a loan?

If you gamble responsibly and have not utilised all of your credit (i.e. you’re not using an unauthorised overdraft or maxed out on your credit cards to fund your gambling), then getting a loan may still be possible as long as you meet the other loan eligibility criteria.

The vetting procedure for a standard loan is not quite as intense as the checks made when applying for a mortgage, but if your gambling and debt are out of control, it can affect your credit score and your ability to borrow money.

Does gambling affect your credit score?

To sum up, the act of gambling itself does not directly affect your credit score, but debt that is out of control as a result of funding your gambling habit will have a big impact.

To try to stop problem gamblers getting into debt, the Gambling Commission banned the use of credit cards for gambling on 14 April 2020.

If you have a gambling problem, you should seek help and support from the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133 or seek help from organisations like gamcare.org.uk or begambleaware.org.

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