What is my credit score/rating?

Banks and credit card companies use a variety of information to give you a credit score/rating. Your score determines whether banks or credit cards will lend to you, and how much interest they will charge you. You are likely to get a better credit score if you:

  • own your own home and/or have lived at the same address for at least a year
  • are on the electoral register
  • have a good credit history by repaying other credit agreements on time, for example your gas and electricity bills
  • have evidence of stability – for example you are employed rather than self-employed, you’ve lived at the same address, worked for the same company and had the same bank account for a long time
  • are not connected financially, through your mortgage or joint bank account, to people with a bad credit score

How to get a report on your credit rating

Three credit agencies have a statutory obligation to provide you with your credit report for £2, and you can access your report online or by asking for a written copy. Your statutory credit report shows a snapshot of your current credit history.

Callcredit, under the brand name Noddle, also offers free access to your credit report for life, so it’s worth just applying for this rather than paying for a statutory report. It is often worth getting a copy of your credit report from all three credit reference agencies if you’ve not applied for it before, or if you’ve not checked it for quite some time. That’s because different credit reference agencies may have credit information from different lenders (although there is quite a lot of overlap between them).

Use the links below to request your credit report:

You can get free 30-day trials of more comprehensive credit checking services from Experian and Equifax, which include your full credit report. However, you normally have to give your credit or debit card details when you sign up to the free trial and money will be taken from your account unless you cancel in time. You can look at your report as many times as you want for no charge during this free trial period.

When to check your credit report

If you are applying for a loan, mortgage, credit card or other borrowing then you should check your credit report. If not, it’s a good idea to check it from time to time to make sure there are no mistakes or that you haven’t missed any payments without realising it.

You can check your credit report as often as you like and it won’t affect your credit rating or credit score.

It’s normally only when you apply for credit and lenders search your credit report that there’s a record left on your credit report. However, in some cases if you try and get a quote for something like a loan or credit card, there may be what’s called a ‘footprint’ on your file. See if you can find out what kind of credit file search a prospective lender will carry out.

What if you have a poor credit score?

A poor credit score can mean you’re charged higher interest rates, given a smaller credit limit or simply rejected outright.

A lender doesn’t have to give you the interest rate they are advertising or that you see in best buy tables on comparison websites. This is called the representative APR and it only has to be offered to just over half (51%) of people applying for the product. You may be offered an interest rate that’s higher – this is what’s called your personal APR. You should check carefully what your personal APR is.

There are also ways you can improve your credit rating . Find out more.