How To Check Your Credit Score
Don't know your credit rating? It’s easy to find out without hurting your credit score.
When you apply for credit, whether it is a mortgage, credit card or loan, the lender will check your credit score to help them make a decision.
Your credit score, or credit rating, tells them whether you have handled credit well in the past. The higher your credit score, the more likely you are to have your application approved. Failed credit applications can damage your credit score, making it harder to borrow in the future.
It makes sense, then, to check your credit score before you apply.
How to check your credit rating
Three main credit reference agencies in the UK — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — will hold a record of your credit history and calculate a credit score based on that information.
You can check your credit score with any of them. The information each of them holds will be slightly different, and you won't know which of them a lender will use. If you are having problems getting credit, or you haven’t checked your file for a while, it may make sense to request your report from each of them.
Do I have to pay to check my credit score?
No. By law, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion must provide you with your statutory credit file free of charge.
You can also access your credit report for free with ClearScore, which uses information from Equifax.
What a credit check will show
Your credit report, or credit file, contains a lot of information about you and your finances, including:
- Your name and date of birth.
- Your current and previous addresses.
- All your credit accounts. This includes credit cards, loan agreements, mortgages. It will show if you have made your repayments on time and in full. Missed or late payments will stay on your credit file for six years.
- Details of your financial links. This is anyone with whom you have joint credit agreements, such as a joint bank account or mortgage. When you are linked with someone in this way, their credit score could affect your ability to borrow.
- Public record information. This means bankruptcies, County Court Judgments (CCJs), Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) and house repossessions.
- Current accounts. This will show any overdraft you have but won’t give details of your bank balance unless you are in the red.
- Fraud details. If you have committed fraud, or your identity has been stolen and used to commit fraud, this is recorded on your report.
Will checking my credit affect my credit score?
No. You can check your credit report as often as you like without it affecting your credit score.
Tips to improve your credit score
When you check your credit report, you’ll be able to see your credit score. A good credit score means two things. First, that you are more likely to have your application approved. Second, that you have a greater chance of getting the best deals and lowest interest rates.
There are a number of ways you can improve your credit score:
- Register to vote. Lenders like to see this as it shows you are putting down roots at your current address and are less likely to move and disappear. It also confirms that details you have provided about yourself are correct.
- Check your current and past addresses. Make sure they are accurate so that all your past credit accounts are appearing on your report to help you build a picture of yourself as a responsible borrower.
- Look out for mistakes. If you spot any mistakes on your file, alert the credit agency and the company associated with them to get them corrected.
Find out more with our guide to improving your credit score.
Ruth is a freelance journalist with 15 years of experience writing for national newspapers, magazines and websites. Specialising in savings, investments, pensions and property. Read more