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Published 23 May 2024
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12 minutes

How Can I Check My Credit Score?

If you want to get to grips with your financial fitness then keep on top of your credit score. Checking it before applying for new credit helps you understand how lenders may view your application.

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Your credit score is a number that illustrates how you’ve managed repayments to lenders and paying bills to other organisations in the past. 

When you apply for credit, a lender usually calculates your credit score using data from your credit report. It uses this score when deciding whether to accept or reject your credit application, the interest rate to offer you, and any credit limit to put in place for a product such as a credit card.

Checking your credit score before applying for credit gives you an overview of your financial health – and can help show you the likelihood of being accepted. 

How to check my credit score

You can check your credit score with the three credit reference agencies that operate in the UK – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

These agencies calculate scores in their own way – for example, an ‘excellent’ credit score looks slightly different with each organisation. Your score will be different depending on the credit reference agency, but you’ll likely sit within the same range at each. So if you have a ‘good’ score with Experian, you’ll probably have a ‘good’ score with Equifax too.

The table below shows the classifications for what is a good credit score at each credit reference agency.

Good** 671-810881-960604-627

*Referred to as Good by Equifax

**Referred to as Very Good by Equifax

» MORE: What is a good credit score? 

While checking your credit score with a credit reference agency can help you see how a lender may view your credit application, a strong or poor score doesn’t guarantee an outcome. Each lender has its own way of working out your creditworthiness.

However, keeping an eye on your score can help you limit credit applications that probably won’t be successful, and identify areas of your report that you could improve.

Both Equifax and Experian can give you a credit score if you sign up at their websites.

On the other hand, to get your TransUnion credit score, you’ll need to use an online service such as Credit Karma or TotallyMoney, and the platform Checkmyfile uses data from all three agencies to calculate your credit score. Even though TransUnion doesn’t directly provide a credit score, you can still request a copy of your statutory credit report from the firm. 

Do lenders check my credit score?

Instead of using the credit reference agency’s score, each lender works out a credit score for you in its own way. A lender will use what you’ve told it as part of your application – plus, more often than not, information from your credit report. It can request this from a credit reference agency as part of a credit check.

These calculations may be different depending on the product you’re applying for. For example, if you’re approved for a credit card with your bank, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be eligible for a personal loan or a mortgage with it too. 

And because each lender uses different scoring methods, being refused credit with one lender doesn’t mean you’ll be refused a similar product with another.

When a lender asks a credit reference agency for data from your credit report, it may also ask for your credit score from that particular agency. If it does, this score will usually be folded into the lender’s application process and scoring system and will not be the only data point it considers.

A lender doesn’t have to tell you your score, but it will have to tell you which credit reference agency it used to get your information. You’ll then be able to check what information the agency holds about you.

Can I get a free credit history check?

It is possible to check your credit score and credit report for free, although you’ll usually have to pay a fee to access more features. 

If you ask, each of the three credit reference agencies must give you a free statutory credit report. But your credit score won’t be on this report, and viewing your score usually requires you to sign up for a separate account or service.

Here’s a roundup of what you can access for free from each of the main credit reference agencies:

Equifax Experian TransUnion 
Free credit score access Only during 30 day trial (free forever from ClearScore)Yes (updated every 30 days)No (available for free at Credit Karma, TotallyMoney)
Free statutory credit reportYesYesYes
Instant statutory credit report accessYesNo (passkey sent to you by post)Yes 
Call centre supportYesYesYes
Paid account (access features such as alerts, insights, identity protection and extra customer service options)Yes, at £14.95 a month Yes, starting at £10.99 a monthNo (extra features available at Credit Karma, TotallyMoney, Checkmyfile, which are services that use TransUnion data)
  • Experian offers a free account that shows a monthly view of your credit score.  However, you have to upgrade and pay a monthly subscription for ongoing credit report access or to check your score more frequently.
  • Equifax offers a 30-day free introductory trial that will allow you to see your score. However, it charges a monthly subscription when the trial ends.
  • You can check your TransUnion credit score for free through online platforms Credit Karma and TotallyMoney. 
  • ClearScore is a similar service to Credit Karma and TotallyMoney, which provides a free credit score based on data from Equifax. 

Subscriptions to credit reference agencies can be costly, sitting at around £15 a month. If you sign up for a free trial to get your data and score but don’t want to continue paying monthly when the trial ends, be sure to add a reminder in your calendar to cancel the service.

Depending on the agency you use, you can see how your score compares with the average credit score for your age and location.

Be aware that by signing up to view your credit score with these services, you will likely be shown promotional offers for credit products. 

How to get a statutory credit report

All three credit reference agencies must give you a free statutory credit report when you request one.

However, a statutory credit report doesn’t show your credit score. Instead, it gives a basic snapshot of your financial history, including:

  • credit agreements
  • missed or default payments
  • electoral roll details

If you’ve been rejected for credit, you can ask for a free statutory credit report from the agency that the lender used. You can check your information and ask for it to be changed if anything is wrong. 

There might be information in your file that you’re not happy about, yet it’s still an accurate picture of your financial history, such as a series of missed repayments. While you can’t ask for information like this to be updated or removed, it’s possible to add a notice of correction to your report. This is a short statement that gives more context about your financial situation. Lenders can see this notice when deciding on future credit applications.

What does a credit report show?

Credit score and report can sometimes refer to the same thing, but they are different. Whereas your credit score uses a points system to distil information from your credit file into a number that illustrates your financial fitness, the report itself is more like a CV for your finances.

It includes personal details and information about your credit history, up to the previous six years. Whenever you apply for credit, lenders will check your credit report to see if you have a good track record of repaying what you borrow.

Your credit report includes the following information:

  • address history – your current address and any previous addresses
  • credit history – financial credit agreements, such as loans, credit cards, mortgages, overdrafts, mobile phone contracts, car finance and any late or missed payments
  • credit applications – how many applications for credit you have made, including where you have been rejected
  • public records – electoral roll information, any county court judgments (CCJs), bankruptcies or insolvencies
  • financial ties – this includes anyone you have taken out joint credit with – for example, for a joint mortgage or bank account

A credit report does not show details about your:

  • council tax
  • student loans
  • accounts that were closed more than six years ago
  • rent payments, unless you use a platform to link them with your credit report
  • ISAs or savings accounts
  • employment history
  • criminal record
  • medical record
  • parking or driving fines

Five reasons to check my credit score 

Your credit score and credit report are important parts of your financial health. It makes sense to check them regularly and at important financial milestones, for example when applying for credit.

One common misconception is that checking your score can damage it, but you can look at your credit score and report whenever you like without affecting either of them negatively.

While your score and report don’t give a complete overview of your financial fitness – for example, they don’t take your savings into account – they can affect many areas of your financial life. Here are five reasons to check your credit score.

1. It indicates the likelihood of being accepted for credit

Your credit report has a clear impact when applying for new credit, such as a personal loan, mortgage or credit card

Lenders want to see how you’ve managed repayments in the past, and will usually check your credit report to find out. For instance, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get a loan without a credit check from a regulated lender.

While your score won’t give you certainty over which way your application will go, checking it gives you a quick illustration of how lenders may view your application.

A lower score could tell you that your credit application is more likely to be refused, or that the lender will apply a higher interest rate because it sees lending you money as a higher risk. You may have to explore options for a bad credit loan instead. 

2. You can improve your score before applying for credit

If you think that lenders won’t approve your credit application – or may offer you a more expensive and higher interest rate – you can start looking for ways to improve your credit score first.

This could include building your history by paying bills that get reported to credit reference agencies, such as energy or phone bills, and registering to vote. 

3. Service providers may check your credit history

Utility suppliers often bill you after you’ve used their services and may want to make sure you can pay by checking your credit history before you enter an agreement with it. After you sign up, details about your payments – whether they’re on time or late – may be reported back to the relevant credit reference agencies.

You might not be able to get onto your preferred tariff if you fail a credit check, and if the utility company carries out a hard search, it will leave a record on your credit report.

However, if you have a poor credit score because you have a limited history of making repayments, becoming a payer on a utility bill can be a relatively simple way to start building up your credit file.

Other companies that could check your credit history include mobile phone providers, internet suppliers and insurers. In the case of car insurance premiums, if you decide to pay in monthly instalments, your credit history may even influence your monthly cost. 

Because so many businesses may look at your credit history before agreeing to provide you with their services, it’s a good idea to keep on top of your credit score.

4. You can spot errors quickly

If your credit score doesn’t sit within the range that you’re expecting, it’s best to investigate. 

Have you made all your repayments on time, but there’s one recorded as late? Or are your repayments missing entirely? You can speak to the company or lender and ask it to update your report.

There may be mistakes that you can correct yourself, for example by making sure that all of your financial accounts are registered to your current address and registering to vote.

5. You can stay vigilant against fraud

Missing payments, making multiple credit applications in a short space of time and opening new accounts can harm your credit score. 

If your credit score has gone down dramatically but not because of anything you’ve done, it could mean that someone has stolen your identity.  For example, you may see a new hard search or credit product you didn’t apply for. 

Checking your score (and report) regularly is one way to remain vigilant against fraud. 

Credit scores frequently asked questions 

Is it OK to get a free credit score?

Yes, it’s OK to check your credit score for free. It’s a common misconception that checking your credit score impacts it negatively. You can look at your score as much as you like without damaging it. 

What affects your credit score the most?

The way you manage your credit accounts affects your credit score the most. For example, not having a balance on your credit accounts (excluding your mortgage) could impact your score positively, while recently missed payments may have a negative effect. Account defaults, county court judgments and insolvency are all likely to cause the greatest harm to your score. 

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