You can check your credit score and report with any of the three credit reference agencies – Experian, Equifax and Callcredit. Because you have a legal right to see what information companies hold, you can access a one-off report online or request your Statutory report to be posted to you.
Credit agencies give you an idea of how Banks could view your financial footprint and will look at your credit history to see how much of your available credit you routinely use. Once you know your credit score, it’s best to think of it as your financial footprint. It’s a guide used by lenders and banks to determine how likely you are to repay loans and credit card balances. The higher your credit score, the more likely you’ll be approved for a loan or credit card, as companies see you as a lower risk.
Each credit reference agency uses a different method for working out credit score, which means there isn’t a single ‘magic number’ you can turn to. Whatever the number, the rule of thumb remains the same – higher scores indicate lower risk, and vice versa. So if you max out your credit each month you’ll lose points – read more about the causes of bad credit. They’ll also look into your credit and payment history to assess late payments and defaults.
There’s no universal credit score in the UK, so if possible check with all three of the main credit reference agencies, or find out which agency your potential lender uses and check with them first.
Getting your credit score is like peeking behind the scenes at what lenders know about you. Any potential problems can be spotted before you make a credit application and, with the right financial know-how, tackled early. This includes checking for signs of fraudulent activity, such as unauthorised loans and applications in your name, to make sure they aren’t hurting your score.
Applying for a mortgage or loan without checking your credit score could result in a failed application and will even put a dent in your credit score as each time an application is made a hard search will appear on your credit report. So try to only apply for what you're eligible for.
Your credit score directly influences your borrowing potential, which in turn affects big life moments, including applying for mortgages, credit cards and loans, as well as your ability to secure car finance. Your credit score can also be taken into account when setting up mobile phone contracts, property rental, monthly household bills and insurance, so it’s important your credit record accurately reflects your financial status and that you are aware what can affect your score.
You have a legal right to check your credit report, which contains your electoral register details, your credit account history, any missed payments or defaults, plus a record of how many times your credit report has been searched in the last year.