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Published 27 June 2024
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Get a Free Credit Report: Equifax vs Experian vs TransUnion

You can get a free credit report from any of the credit reference agencies in the UK – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

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It’s possible to request a free credit report from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. It may also be called a statutory credit report because you have the legal right to view it for free.

When you apply for credit, lenders usually ask to see your credit file from one or more credit reference agencies. If you ask, a lender has to tell you which agency it used to get your data, allowing you to check your credit report to see what information the lender based its decision on.

The process for requesting a free credit report from each credit reference agency is largely the same. You should be able to either look at your credit report online or ask for a paper copy by filling out a form and sending it to the relevant firm.

When it comes to credit scores, keep in mind that they are separate from your credit report. Credit scores use data from your credit reference file to calculate a number that indicates your creditworthiness, but your credit score isn’t included on your credit report.

Instead, you’ll usually need to create a separate account with the credit reference agency to check your credit score or use a service such as ClearScore, Credit Karma or TotallyMoney. 

How to get a credit report

You can request a copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reference agencies online, verbally or in writing.

It’s quickest to get an online copy of your credit report. Each of the credit reference agencies has an online form you can use to fill in your information and then access your report.

If you want a paper copy, you can download, print and fill in a form to send to the credit reference agency. This gives the details each needs to identify you and send a copy of your report in the post. Sometimes, the credit reference agency may need more information to make sure that you are who you say you are.

When asking for your report verbally, it’s a good idea to follow up with the credit reference agency in writing so there’s clear evidence that you’ve made your request. 

Here’s an overview of requesting a credit report from each credit reference agency:

EquifaxExperianTransUnion
Instant online access to your reportYesNo (passkey sent in post within five working days)Yes
Paper copy of your report available Yes YesYes
Address to request copy in writingEquifax Ltd Customer Service CentrePO Box 10036 Leicester LE3 4FSExperian LtdCustomer Support CentrePO Box 8000Nottingham NG80 7WFTransUnionConsumer Services TeamPO Box 491Leeds LS3 1WZ
Phone number for customer services0800 014 29550800 013 88880330 024 7574
Credit score access on websiteYes (30-day free trial, then £14.95 a month) or free via ClearscoreYes (after creating a basic free account)No (available for free at Credit Karma, TotallyMoney)

Requesting a free credit report from Equifax

To get your credit report online from Equifax, you need to register for a MyEquifax account. This involves entering your personal information and address history. Equifax will also ask you some questions about your credit file to confirm your identity.

Once you’ve signed up for an account, you’ll be able to download a PDF copy of your report from MyEquifax’s dashboard. MyEquifax generates a copy of your report each time you sign in and allows you to access previously generated copies of your report.

You can also view your credit report data directly through MyEquifax, as opposed to needing to download the PDF.

You can get a monthly credit score through MyEquifax, but it’s free for just 30 days and then £14.95 a month after. If you want to see your score but don’t want to pay monthly, make sure you set a reminder to cancel your free trial.

» MORE: What is a good credit score? 

Requesting a free credit report from Experian

If you want to view your online Experian credit report, you need to enter your personal details and address history to access a secure area of Experian’s website. However, unlike Equifax and TransUnion, Experian doesn’t give you instant access. Instead, it sends out a passkey to you in the post within five working days that you need to use to view your report.

When it comes to credit scores, you can sign up for Experian’s basic free account that lets you view your score for free, which is updated monthly. However, you can’t view your credit report through this account.

Requesting a free credit report from TransUnion

You need to fill in your personal details online and get an email authentication code from TransUnion. Once you enter this code, TransUnion will ask you a few questions about your credit file to confirm your identity before you can access your report.

Unlike Equifax, you can’t create an online account with TransUnion, so you need to go through this process each time you want to view your report. 

You can download a PDF copy of your report or view your credit file data online.

What is a credit report?

Your credit report is a deep dive into your credit history. It displays information about your credit accounts, including personal loans, credit cards and mortgages, plus personal details such as your address and whether you’re registered to vote. These details help financial institutions make sure that you are who you say you are.

Most account information stays on your credit report for six years, as does information about bankruptcy and county court judgments (CCJs). You’ll be able to see the last four years of payment history for active accounts.

Check your report for errors and anything else that doesn’t look right because these can affect any applications to borrow money such as a loan, credit card or mortgage. You can then raise a concern with the credit reference agency.

The key information that’s included in a credit report is listed below. 

DetailWhat is it?
Personal informationName and date of birth. Current and previous addresses, plus ‘linked’ addresses, which are addresses where you’ve applied for or taken out credit.
Financial associatesPeople you’re financially linked to, usually through a joint account or application.
Electoral registerWhether you’re registered to vote at your current address, as well as electoral roll information at previous and linked addresses.
Credit agreementsInformation supplied by financial institutions and service providers about your accounts, including whether you’re up to date with your repayments, whether you’ve missed payments and your current balances.
Public recordsIncluding county court judgments (CCJs) and insolvencies.
Notice of correctionThis allows you to give more context around information on your credit report, which lenders will be able to see when deciding whether to accept your application.
SearchesFinancial institutions and service providers usually search your credit file when you apply for a product. Full ‘hard’ searches are visible to lenders while ‘soft’ searches are only visible to you.
Cifas entriesFinancial institutions can report when someone has used your details fraudulently to Cifas, the UK’s fraud prevention service, which shows on your report. Lenders may then need to run extra checks to confirm your identity. Your report will also say whether you’ve joined the Cifas Protective Register.

What isn’t on your credit report?

Because your credit report is a detailed overview of your credit history, it generally isn’t concerned with information unrelated to borrowing money and paying it back.

This means that the money you have in your bank account won’t be reported. It shows as a zero balance unless you’re in your overdraft, which is a credit facility. Overdrafts can affect your credit score.

Your savings and investments also won’t be on there, and neither will council tax or student loans

Rent payments don’t get reported, unless you’ve signed up to a service such as Experian’s Rental Exchange scheme.

Homeownership isn’t explicitly included, but mortgages are because they’re a form of credit, so if you have a mortgage, lenders will be able to work out that you own a property.

Lenders will usually ask about your income and expenditure and factor it into their decision on whether to lend you money, but this information isn’t on your credit report.

Criminal records, medical histories and driving and parking fines are also not recorded on your credit file.

Image source: Getty Images

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