What is a credit search?

What is a credit search?

Credit searching is the process performed by lenders and other companies to calculate whether they are prepared to lend to you. The process delivers a credit score.

How does credit searching work?

You must provide authority to any lender or company to perform a credit search. Credit reference agencies are employed by lenders to provide information to generate a score.

Your score is determined by a number of factors including:

  • If you are registered on the electoral role
  • Do you have any County Court Judgements (CCJ) or bankruptcy registered
  • How well do you pay your existing credit obligations?
  • Whether you have applied for credit recently – leaving a search ‘footprint’

Your score is based on the outcome of these factors. If you meet the score criteria, you are likely to be able to receive the loan.

Your ability to afford the monthly repayment of the loan is not automatically linked to the credit score. You may need to prove evidence of income.

What is a soft credit search?

Some lenders will perform a soft search on your credit file. This will indicate whether you are eligible to borrow from them before a full search is completed.

Soft searches can be performed without your permission, but do not leave a visible ‘footprint’ for other lenders to see. However, you are able to view the soft search on your own file.


If you wish to borrow whether it is a loan, credit card or mobile phone, a credit search will be completed. It is good practice to review your own credit file to ensure there are no surprises when you apply in the future.