Barclays has been rapped on the knuckles for a radio advert that urged tenants to rack up credit card debt and increase their credit score to help them rent a flat.
The advert’s voiceover explained: “Using my Barclaycard Forward credit card to pay for the stuff I need now could help build up my credit score for the day I need something bigger. So buying a set of headphones…could help in the future when I want to rent my first flat share.”
Responding to complaints, Barclays said the ad was intended to show that you could improve your credit score by using a credit card responsibly, purchasing goods and paying it off in time.
It explained that many third parties and credit reference agencies recommend using a credit card in that way to build a credit score, which was important for letting agents when letting a property.
It added that landlords used many factors when considering a credit score, including salary, but it was down to the individual landlord to decide which factors to pick.
It explained that private landlords and letting agents with more than 100 properties were able to use credit data when making credit and affordability decisions. However, Barclays could not confirm that every landlord would use credit reference agency checks, or if they did, that the credit data they could access was suitably detailed. It agreed to withdraw the advert.
The ASA ruled: “We considered that a significant section of the rental market was made up of private landlords with less than 100 properties. Because there was no guarantee that these individuals would carry out or would have access to detailed credit reference checks, we concluded that the ad exaggerated the impact of retail purchases on a person’s credit score, in relation to renting a property, and therefore the ad was misleading.”
Read more: Credit scores explained.