How To Check Your Credit Score
There are lots of simple ways to check your credit score to find out how likely you are to be accepted for new credit.
Checking your credit score can help you understand your borrowing history and how likely lenders are to accept your application for new credit. It can also help you spot mistakes on your credit report, which may affect your credit rating.
You can check your credit score through a credit reference agency or an online platform.
Find out how to check your credit score for free and whether looking at your credit report harms your credit score.
What is a credit score?
A credit score, or credit rating, is a three- or four-digit number that shows how reliable you are at borrowing money. It gives a snapshot of your credit history and how you have managed debt in the past.
Typically, a higher credit score increases your chances of being approved for new credit because it suggests to lenders that you are a reliable borrower and can keep up with repayments.
The lower your credit score, the less likely you are to be accepted for certain products, as lenders may believe there is a risk you won’t repay what you borrow.
Credit scores are calculated using data from your credit report. Your credit report acts like a CV for your finances and includes details about your address history, credit history and public records about you.
The UK has three main credit reference agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion that collect this information to produce your credit report and score.
How to check your credit score
You can check your credit score through Equifax and Experian.
Experian offers a free account that shows a monthly view of your credit score, but you have to upgrade and pay a monthly subscription for a more detailed credit report or to check your score more frequently.
Equifax offers a 30-day free introductory trial, but then you have to pay a monthly subscription when the trial ends.
You can check your TransUnion credit score for free through an online platform called Credit Karma.
All three credit reference agencies have to offer a free statutory credit report by law.
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.
Can I check my credit score for free?
You can also check your credit score for free through online platforms that use data from the main credit reference agencies. ClearScore uses Equifax data to generate your credit score, while Credit Karma uses data from TransUnion.
Each platform offers a full credit report that includes your credit score. They also provide credit monitoring services that show any changes to your score each month and give tips on how to improve your credit rating.
Most free credit score platforms also include eligibility checkers that calculate how likely you are to be accepted for loans and credit cards based on your credit history.
What does a credit report show?
Think of your credit report like a CV for your finances. It includes personal details and information about your credit history. 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
- Isas or savings accounts
- employment history
- criminal record
- medical record
- parking or driving fines.
Why should I check my credit score?
Checking your credit score regularly is important because it has an impact on almost every area of your financial life.
From applying for a mortgage or credit card to the price you pay for car insurance, your credit score dictates how likely you are to get accepted for certain products, and the interest rate you will pay.
Understanding your credit score can help you improve your credit history and the chances of being approved for credit in the future.
Regularly looking through your credit report can help you spot mistakes or instances of fraud, which may harm your credit score if they are left unresolved.
Does checking my credit score lower it?
Checking your credit score does not lower it, no matter how many times you look.
Understanding your credit report can help you identify areas to improve your credit score.
How to improve your credit score
Improving your credit score can help you unlock more financial opportunities and favourable rates when you apply for credit.
Here are a few simple tips that could help boost your credit score:
- Check your credit score: Knowing your credit score and credit history can help you find areas to improve.
- Repay on time: Keeping up with repayments shows lenders that you are a reliable borrower and can handle regular repayments.
- Register to vote: Registering to vote helps lenders verify your identity more easily, which could help boost your credit score.
It is worth noting that improving your credit score is a marathon, not a sprint. So it may take a few months, or years, to see your score improve.
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
Brean is a personal finance writer at NerdWallet. She covers a range of financial topics and has written for consumer titles including Which?, Moneywise and The Motley Fool. Read more