Checking your credit score regularly can be the key to keeping your finances healthy. There are three main credit reference agencies in the UK that compile information on how well you manage credit and payments: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
Your credit score will often dictate whether you are able to borrow money, as well as how much, so knowing your score can be essential. If you don’t keep track of your credit score, you run the risk of small errors causing larger problems down the line. And if you are struggling to be accepted for a loan, credit card or mortgage, it is important to have the full picture to help you work out how to improve your score.
Since the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, which gives individuals greater control over their personal data, it is free to access your credit score. However, how you go about this differs slightly with each credit reference agency, so let’s break it down:
Experian is the largest credit reference agency in the UK, and one that lenders frequently use when conducting credit checks.
Experian has a free credit score checking service: Experian Credit Score. This is available online and requires you to complete a form, which includes providing your personal information. With the service, your score will be updated every 30 days.
If you want more of a deep dive into your credit report, you can opt for Experian’s CreditExpert report. Here you get daily updates on your score and report, as well as alerts, web monitoring and analytics to help you better understand your score. Experian offers its CreditExpert report with a 30-day free trial for new customers only. After the trial period, the service costs £14.99 a month.
With Equifax, you can view your full credit report and score for free as part of a 30-day free trial. After that, the service costs £7.95 a month, but you can cancel at any time. You can view your detailed credit report, find out your score and take advantage of the identity protection feature, which will alert you if your financial details are shared on websites used by fraudsters.
Alternatively, you could use either Clearscore or Credit Karma. Although not part of Equifax, Clearscore uses Equifax’s credit information, and Credit Karma uses both Equifax’s and TransUnion’s information. You can view your report once a month, free of charge. However, the catch is that both Clearscore and Credit Karma will then recommend financial products based on your credit score.
In order to view your credit report held by TransUnion, you can request to receive your statutory credit file, which will be delivered either online or by post. This includes details about your credit accounts, missed payments and the people you have financial links to.
Alternatively, as mentioned for Equifax above, you could use Credit Karma for free access to your monthly credit report and credit score for life. Credit Karma may then recommend loans and credit cards that are suitable for someone with your credit rating.
Checkmyfile is an online service that checks your credit score with the three main credit reference agencies. It is free for the first 30 days, but thereafter it costs £14.99 a month. As well as access to your score across all three credit reference agencies, you also receive free identity fraud assistance.
The brilliant thing is that there are no disadvantages in checking your credit score regularly. Your checks are not recorded and do not work against you when you apply for credit.
Instead, checking your credit score regularly will help you keep a closer eye on your finances, as well as flag any issues you need to address before submitting an application for a loan, credit card or mortgage.
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