You can check your credit score with any of the three main credit reference agencies – Experian, Equifax and Callcredit. Because you have a legal right to see what information companies hold, you can pay any of the agencies £21 for a one-off report that lists your key credit history information and some of the agencies provide access to your report for free. For your credit score – the numbers that sum up your history – you can use an agency’s online monitoring service.
Once you know your credit score, it’s best to think of it as your online 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 lower the credit risk and the more likely you are to be accepted for a loan or credit card.
Credit agencies will look at your banking history and how much of your available credit you routinely use. 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, 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.
Experian is the biggest credit reference agency. When you sign up for a 30-day trial or download the app you can get your credit score for free. Barclaycard customers can track their Experian credit score by using free monitoring tools – conditions apply.
Equifax is the second largest and offers a free one month access to your credit score. Callcredit is the newest of the UK’s major credit agencies and not as widely used as Experian or Equifax. Using their free Noddle service and app, you can get free monthly updates and reports - conditions apply.
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, or even put a dent in your credit score.
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 do all you can to achieve a good score.
You have a legal right to check your credit score, 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 checked in the last year. If you’re a Barclaycard customer, you can check your Experian credit score and track it using free monitoring tools (conditions apply).