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Does having a good credit score matter in Spain?

The Local Spain
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Does having a good credit score matter in Spain?

If you're packing up your things and heading off to start a new life in Spain, you might be wondering what happens to your credit score and if it even matters.


You've spent years building up your credit score, paid off all your debts and loans, and amassed some savings. Now you want to relocate to Spain, and hope that your stellar credit score will follow you over and make the transition that much smoother.

Will it? The short answer is: not really.

Generally speaking, credit scores don't transfer between countries. Now, this may apply mainly to our American readers, for whom having a credit score is in many ways essential to financial life in the United States, but know that if you have a good credit score abroad, the chances are it won't really matter in Spain.

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So even if you've managed to build a solid credit score back home, in Spain the chances are you'll need to find different ways to demonstrate your credit history before you can take out any other credit cards or mortgages. However, that doesn't always mean that a good credit score is entirely useless in Spain, and it could be used as evidence, along with other things, to help you get a loan.

Global credit scores?

Frustrating as it might be that you've spent years or even decades building up your credit score, the fact that there isn't really a global credit score rating system means this doesn't really matter when you move to Spain. Or, at least, not in the same way it does back home.

According to Capital One bank: "Global credit scores don’t currently exist. Some credit bureaus, like Experian, operate in multiple countries. But privacy laws vary by nation, so these companies typically can’t share consumer credit information across borders.

If a person moves to a new country, their lack of credit history might make them “credit invisible.” Even if someone has excellent credit in their home country, being credit invisible could make it difficult for them to get a loan or open a credit card."

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There are some countries, such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, and Japan, that have their own credit scoring systems, but the lack of international cooperation, combined with state-level data privacy legislation, means that they have essentially nothing to do with another and couldn't share the relevant information even if they wanted to.

But what about in Spain?


Are there credit scores in Spain?

Not really, and nothing like our American readers will be used to.

Spain's Central de Información de Riesgo, or Risk Management Center (CIR) does track credit history, but doesn't dole out credit scores.

According to the Banco de España website: "The Risk Management Center (RIC) is a public service that manages a database containing practically all the loans, credits, guarantees and risks in general that financial institutions have with their customers. The data contained in the RIC are a reflection of the data that the institutions have on their customers in their databases."

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The CIR basically keeps a record of credit activity, particularly defaulted accounts or late payments, and lists negative items.

Whereas in the US having open lines of credit or ongoing direct debit payments can be used positively to build a good credit score, in Spain credit only really becomes an issue when you have negative marks on your RIC record. If you have several negative marks, you could be rejected from credit or loan agreements, or even blacklisted from certain banks until the outstanding debt is paid in full, or for a period of up to six years, whichever it takes.


Rather than simply using a good score to gain access to loans and other financial products, in Spain banks and other lenders are far more concerned with your income (which must be demonstrable with invoices or payslips), your expenses, ie. what proportion of your income goes out on costs like rent or mortgage payments, and then any outstanding negative items you have in your credit history. Simply showing a good American credit score won't help you in Spain.

However, that's not to say that it's entirely useless. When used in conjunction with income information, evidence of investment or property portfolios, bank statements, bank transfers, or whatever else might help in persuading a Spanish lender that you are financially stable, a good American credit score could potentially come in handy if the bank is familiar with how they work.

In these sorts of the situations, the more information and evidence you can provide, the better.


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