How to check your credit score?

When it comes to your credit score, knowledge is power.

A couple, sat in their home, checking their credit score online

Know the score

Your credit score is your financial footprint – it’s how banks, service providers, lenders and other companies decide how reliable you are. The higher your credit score, the easier it is to get a credit card, loan or mortgage. You’ll also benefit from better rates on a wide range of services and products. It touches your life in all sorts of ways, especially if you’re planning on buying a home or car, or are saving for the future. So it’s really worth taking the time to find out your credit score. 

Checking your credit score is free – and it’s your right

You have a legal right to check your credit score and credit history. What’s more, it’s free and only takes a few steps.

Where can I check my credit score?

When it comes to credit scores, there are three main credit reference agencies (CRAs) in the United Kingdom: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion (formerly Callcredit). Each uses a slightly different scoring system. But don’t let that scare you. Because they all base their scores on similar criteria. So if you have one credit score, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how you rate with the other credit reference agencies. Here’s how to access your credit score and credit history for free with the top three CRAs.

Your Experian credit score

Experian is the UK’s largest credit reference agency. You can access your Experian credit score by registering on the Experian website. It’s quick and doesn’t cost anything. To get a peek at your full credit report, you’ll need to register for the free 30-day trial of Experian’s CreditExpert service. It’s a bit more effort, but it’s well worth the time.

Your full credit report will provide specific details about how your score was determined. It’s also a good way to check for any errors that might be lurking on your credit report which could adversely affect your credit score. Just make sure you check Experian’s terms and conditions when you register. And if you choose to continue with their service beyond the trial period, you will be charged a monthly fee.

Your TransUnion credit score

TransUnion is the second largest credit reference agency in the UK. It used to be known as Callcredit. You can check your TransUnion credit score by going to TransUnion. You can also access your TransUnion and Equifax credit reports at the same time by registering for a 30-day free trial of CheckMyFile.  Just make sure you have a look at their terms and conditions before you register. And if you want to continue with their service beyond the 30 days, a monthly fee would apply.

Your Equifax credit score

Equifax also lets you check your credit score and credit history by registering for a 30-day free trial of their subscription service. As with the other CRAs, you should check their terms and conditions carefully. And if you choose to continue with the service beyond the trial period, a fee would apply. You can also access your Equifax credit score and credit history without fees or subscribing to any service through Clearscore.

What does my credit score mean?

Making sense of your credit score can be fairly straight-forward – no matter which credit reference agency it’s from. That’s because all three CRAs base their scores on similar financial criteria. So while the number may vary from one agency to another, the actual score is usually pretty consistent. Here’s a simple guideline for assessing your credit score:

  • Experian scores range from 0-999. A score of 721-880 is considered fair. A score of 881-960 is considered good.
  • Equifax scores range from 0-700. 380-419 is considered a fair score. A score of 420-465 is considered good.
  • TransUnion has an scores range from 0-710. A credit score of 566-603 is considered fair. A credit score of 604-627 is good.

How do agencies decide my credit score?

Your credit score is a snapshot of your financial history – of how reliable you are when it comes to money. So all three CRAs base your credit score on your track record for managing your money. Here are the main factors they consider:

  • how much money you owe to lenders
  • your history of missing payments, making late payments or going over your credit limit
  • have you ever defaulted on credit agreements
  • how often you withdraw cash from your credit card
  • if you have joint accounts with someone with a bad credit record
  • not being on the electoral roll
  • moving house too often
  • living at an address where a previous occupier had debt and didn’t update their address
  • making too many credit applications in a short space of time
  • possible errors on your credit history file

You can find out more about how your credit score is determined by checking out the truth about your credit score.

How to improve your credit score

Raising your credit score may seem like a daunting task. But there are some simple, basic things you can do that really will make a difference. Here are some of them:

  • make your monthly payments on time – every time. These days, every major bank offers a range of handy apps, online alerts and low-balance warnings to help you stay on top of your money
  • paying down some of your debt is one of the best ways to improve your credit score. Even paying a bit more than your minimum monthly fee will help improve your credit score
  • register on the electoral roll if you aren’t already, as this is a way to improve your credit score
  • close down old accounts you don’t use anymore – especially if they have available credit. Lenders look at your total available credit when deciding how much you can borrow
  • settle any outstanding county court judgments (CCJs) or credit agreement defaults. These will significantly affect your credit score
  • spread out your credit applications and use our Credit Card Eligibility Checker before you apply for a credit card
  • protect yourself by cutting financial links with previous partners or co-habitants. This includes joint accounts or utility bills you shared with former roommates
  • consider a credit building credit card
  • check your credit report annually to make sure there are no errors

If you’re looking for other ideas, there’s lots at how can I raise my credit score even further.

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What’s next?

Now that you know how to check your credit score and credit history, here are some tips to help you understand what your credit score means.

Understanding your credit score