Blue arrow
More advice
11 min read

Credit checks and your car subscription

We explain what credit checks are and which car subscription services in the UK carry them out.
Credit checks and your car subscription

Before taking out any form of credit, you’ll usually need to go through a credit check so that lenders can assess your creditworthiness.

When applying for credit cards and loans, for example, lenders use this information to assess risk, see how reliable you are as a borrower and confirm your identity.

In a similar way, car subscriptions services often carry out credit checks to make sure you can afford your monthly payments and to check your previous borrowing history.

Do car subscriptions do credit checks?

Yes – car subscription companies will assess your past credit history to check whether you will be able to  afford your monthly payments. 

When applying to get a car on subscription most car providers carry out a ‘soft’ credit check. This type of check doesn’t leave a mark on your credit report and won’t affect your credit score. It’s often used to prove your identity and gives lenders a snapshot of your credit history.

However, other subscription companies may run a ‘hard’ check when you apply for an all-inclusive car subscription. A hard check does leave a mark on your credit record and can reduce your credit score. This type of search reveals your full credit past, including payment history, open and closed accounts, CCJs (county court judgements) etc.

Signing up to a free 30-day trial* with CheckMyFile will give you access to all the credit information held on you by Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. You can see if there are any potential red flags which may prevent you from passing affordability checks. Although subscriptions aren't as stringent as other types of car finance, you can still be rejected.

UK cash

Car subscription, no credit check: does it exist?

Yes! But you'll have to pass affordability checks which may include a soft credit search on your report. Until recently, Onto didn't carry out any credit checks but that's no longer the case. Read more about Onto in our guide and find the car for you. Onto specialises in electric cars so the car inventory isn’t as rich as with other providers.

Flexed is a good option for those with bad or no credit history. They underwrite their own contracts, so they’re more willing to consider drivers with limited credit history than other car subscription providers.

What is a credit score?

Your credit score is a numerical rating based on your financial history. The specific score range depends on the credit agency, but with all agencies, the higher the credit score, the better. A “good” credit score usually showcases that you have a good payment history and are likely to be less of a risk to lenders. This also usually means you’ll get better deals and rates.

All credit reference agencies in the UK let users check their scores for free. Here’s what a good credit score looks like with each one:

CRA Equifax Experian TransUnion
Maximum score 1,000 999 710
Very poor 0 to 438 0 to 560 0 to 550
Poor 439 to 530 561 to 720 551 to 565
Fair 531 to 670 721 to 880 566 to 603
Good 671 to 810 881 to 960 604 to 627
Excellent 811 to 1000 961 to 999 628 to 710

What credit score is needed to get a car on subscription?

Car subscription providers don’t usually look at your actual credit score, but rather how well you have managed your financial accounts in the past.

What's more, the cost of the monthly car subscription is usually fixed and doesn't depend on your credit score, which means you won’t benefit from better deals even if you have an ‘excellent’ score.

You may be asked to provide the following documents and information when getting a car on subscription:

  • A scanned copy of your UK driving licence.
  • Information on past driving convictions.
  • Confirm whether you have been disqualified from driving in the last five years.
  • Utility bill dated within the last three months.
  • Employment details.

Car subscription with ‘bad credit’

If you have a bad credit history or score, chances are you’ve had issues repaying credit in the past. Sometimes it takes time to ‘repair’ your credit and increase your score.

Young people with no credit history or people who’ve never opened a credit account in the UK would also fall into this category, simply because lenders cannot assess risk and your ability to make payments on time.

So if you don’t want to get a car with bad credit there’s a couple of things you need to keep in mind.

  • Monthly affordability - It’s very important to work out what you can comfortably afford to repay each month. Then compare subscription cars from different companies to find one that best fits your financial circumstances and needs.
  • Stay away from more debt – If you’re already in a difficult financial position, try to avoid taking out more credit as this can put even more strain on your finances.
  • In trouble? Speak to your provider – Car subscription companies are usually quite flexible so you may be able to cancel early and return the car before your financial situation worsens.

Below is a full list of negative factors which may lead to bad credit:

  • Late payments - Missing one payment might not decrease your score drastically, but it could be a dealbreaker for some lenders. Being consistently late and continually missing payments can lead to a default.
  • Defaults - If you miss too many payments, a creditor will provide you with a default notice asking you to keep up with payments. If you don't, they will then close the credit account and the lender may sell your debt to a debt collector or take you to court.
  • County Court Judgements (CCJ) - Lenders are able to apply for a CCJ against you if you aren't repaying your debt. If the court rules in favour of the creditor, you'll be issued a judgement and asked to repay what you owe. If you ignore this, the court has the right to use bailiffs to recover the debt.
  • Debt repayment plans - Debt Relief Orders (DROs), Debt Management Plans (DMPs) and Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) appear on your credit report and can influence lenders' decision making.
  • Bankruptcy - Bankruptcy is a legal status for people unable to repay money they owe. It's generally known to be a last resort option for people with debts worth over £5,000.
  • Hard searches - Some lenders, including some car subscription companies, may run a hard search which can temporarily affect your credit score. Normally this lasts 3-6 months so you should avoid applying for credit too often.

All of these factors can stay on your credit report for up to six years. This means your chances of getting accepted for credit can be affected for a very long time. Learn how to improve your credit score and be subscription-ready!

Credit card and a Macbook Pro

Can you get refused when applying for a subscription?

You probably won’t be refused a car on subscription because of a poor credit history per se but rather if the lender cannot match your details and prove your identity.

It’s possible that in the future subscription services will start using credit history to offer better deals, but right now, the chances of getting refused are low.

Do car subscriptions appear on your credit report?

Cars on subscription do not appear on your credit report.  

By contrast, cars bought on finance (PCP or HP) will always show up in your credit history. Even cars on lease are reported to credit bureaus, such as Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.

Your report will also show the amount left to pay, the number of months remaining and any missed payments.

However, as car subscriptions do not appear on your credit report, this also means they don't directly help improve your credit score either. That said, services like Experian Boost look at your monthly subscriptions (such as Spotify and Netflix) which can actually improve your Experian credit score.

Will a car subscription hurt my credit score?

Most providers carry out a ‘soft’ search when you apply and this won’t affect your credit score. Others, like Wagonex, run a ‘hard’ search which will have a temporary negative impact on your score. This means it’s important not to make too many credit applications in a short space of time. 

Does my credit score affect the cost of cars on subscription?

No, it doesn’t. The monthly cost is usually fixed so even if you have the highest score possible, you won’t benefit from a cheaper subscription cost.

Would cancelling my subscription affect my credit score?

No, cancelling a subscription and returning the car will not hurt your credit score. Even swapping cars every few months isn’t going to be an issue (it’s even encouraged by some companies).

Usually, once you’ve created an account with a subscription company and they have your details on file, they won’t carry out any credit checks again.

Which UK car subscription companies require a credit check?

Here's a breakdown of the subscription services currently available in the UK and the type of credit search they carry out:

Provider 'Soft' check 'Hard' search
Wagonex No ❌ Yes ✅
Onto Yes ✅ No ❌
My Car Direct No ❌ Yes ✅
Flexed No ❌ Yes ✅
Care by Volvo Yes ✅ No ❌
Evogo Yes ✅ No ❌
Pivotal Yes ✅ No ❌
elmo Yes ✅ No ❌
Sixt+ Yes ✅ No ❌
A driver holding car keys.

Getting help with your debt

If you're worried about your debts, you can get free advice from debt charity organisations. They will look at your financial situation and help you set up a more manageable repayment plan to help you pay off your debt, as well as help you make better financial decisions in the future.

You can seek help from the following organisations:

Browse all cars available on subscription

There are hundreds of cars available via UK subscription companies.

Article sources
Our writers are required to use primary sources of information to support their content. These include research from authoritative brands, government data sets, first-hand experience where relevant and advice from industry experts.

We also reference useful information from other reputable websites where appropriate and data is fact-checked. See our editorial guidelines.

*We’ve partnered with CheckMyFile to provide our website visitors with quick and easy access to their credit reports. You can sign up for free and get a 30-day free trial which you can cancel online anytime. If you decide to stay after the trial, the monthly subscription costs £14.99. The links are affiliate links. We may receive a commission for purchase made through these links, at no additional cost to you. Learn more about CheckMyFile.

Privacy policy & advertising disclosure