I've been living in the UK for 5 years and I've been working in here for 3 years. Although my credit score is in good condition now as I set some regular debit card payments; according to experian, I can't get a credit card. Even soft search does not give me any chance.

Mostly people advice to register to vote, but as a foreigner I'm not able to. In order to build up a credit score I need to get a credit card with is kinda stuck in this situation now. I've reported all my previous addresses and everything to experian but according to them, I'm not able to get one.

Additionally, my friend who is in similar conditions with me, who has been living in the UK for 2 years and working for 1 year; was declined last month although the request was informally approved by their bank.

Please advise.


  • consider that not having a credit card is always a good thing in all cases! Could be a blessing in disguise.
    – Fattie
    May 4, 2016 at 11:40

3 Answers 3


Check your eligibility to vote here. If you aren't a British citizen, a qualifying Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland you cannot vote in UK General elections, but you can in local elections if you are from EU. So I am assuming you aren't from Ireland, EU or any Commonwealth countries.

Credit card application approval depends on a lot of other reasons. Your salary level, the credit limit you want, credit history, etc. The inability to vote might be a sticking point but that mayn't be the issue here. Did you try some comparison websites to see what credit cards can be offered to you ? That should give you a good picture. So shop around. In the first instant I would contact the bank, where you bank, if they can issue you one. I would advise start from a lower credit limit to get a credit card in the first instance and then after usage get your limit increased.

Barclays(other banks might be also) offers a pre-check to say whether they will be willing to offer you a credit card or not. But be careful loads of credit card applications don't look good on your credit history.

Check guidelines fro credit card applications here.


I am in the same situation as an American living in the UK. A couple of years ago I applied for a new credit card with a bank that I had no relationship with. I was rejected by the computer instantly. (At least it was fast…) The guy who was going through the process with me was totally surprised, said he'd never seen someone with my credit score be rejected. I'm confident it was due to the fact that I'm not registered to vote.

I solved this problem by getting a credit card with the bank I use for my current account (HSBC). It may have helped that I had an account with them in the US as well. The initial credit limit was laughable, like £1000, but I've increased it over time. In your case, I'd have a discussion with your bank (preferably in person, and ideally with a banker you have dealt with previously) and see if they will give you a card, given your relationship with them.

Failing that, it IS possible to get US cards with a 0% foreign transaction fee. That way you'll be paying 1% in currency conversion to Visa/MC, but that's all. Not ideal, but a possible stopgap if you can find a card with good enough benefits and have US income to pay it off with every month.


Thanks for your responses all. I've just came back from the bank as being told I'm not eligible again !

Instead they told me to call credit score agencies and discuss with them if I can proof my address as I'm not eligible for voting. I think the address currently we're living at is black listed or something like that. I've tried all comparison webpages, soft credit checks etc.. No luck. Desperately looking for solutions..

  • Supposedly you can send a letter to all three credit bureaux asking them to make a note on your account that you aren't registered only because you're ineligible to register. I haven't done this, but it's supposed to be easy. Not an instant fix, but worth a try. Also, answering your own question should actually provide an answer. Here's more on etiquette in this situation.
    – Nick K9
    May 10, 2016 at 11:26

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