Get the answers to FAQs on credit reports and ratings, then choose from services offered by UK credit bureaus and agencies.
A credit report – also known as a credit file – is a record of your financial behaviour compiled by one of the three credit reference bureaus - Equifax, Experian and Callcredit - and used by various third-party agencies.
Lenders generally check a credit file with one or more of these bureaus and agencies every time you apply for a credit card, loan, mortgage or other financial product, to help them decide whether to offer you a contract that involves credit.
You can also check a credit report yourself by paying a one-off or monthly fee to an agency or bureau. Read more in our beginners’ guide to credit reports.
A credit report simply contains factual information about your financial history – it isn’t rated or scored, although some report providers will also give you a score.
There’s actually no such thing as a universal credit 'score' – every time you apply for credit a lender will score you according to its own criteria, so you might be turned down for credit with one lender but be successful with another.
Checking a credit report can help to track down any problem related to your financial history, giving you a realistic idea of products you may be accepted for. It might also help explain any failed applications and show you things you can correct and/or improve.
No, all offer different services, prices and standards of customer support. It's generally felt that the three self-powered bureaus are likely to offer more reliable and up-to-date information than third-party agencies.
Your credit report only shows what credit you’ve applied for – it doesn’t say whether or not your application was successful.
Every time you make an application for credit, information will be recorded on your credit file. This builds up a profile of your financial activity which will include:
There are many rumours about what’s included in your credit report. None of the following will be on your file:
However, when making a decision on whether to lend, a lender might ask questions about some of the above on their application form.
Your credit report will only show what credit products you’ve applied for – it doesn’t say whether or not your application was successful.
However, it does then show what credit products you’re currently using, so if you have a string of applications which are not followed by a live credit account, lenders will probably assume you've been rejected for credit.
Different types of information stays on your credit report for different lengths of time. For instance, credit application searches will stay on your file for a year. As a guideline, the maximum length of time any negative information should stay on your account is six years.
Yes. Credit report agencies are legally required to review any issues you raise.
Anything that shows you can handle a credit account can help you to build a credit history.
No. Credit records are attached to people, not addresses, and there’s no such thing as a credit blacklist. Update the electoral register with your new address as soon as possible to keep your credit file up to date.
Typical things to consider include:
Ways to improve a credit score include:
A soft search - also known as a 'smart search' - lets you check what credit deals you’re most eligible for without affecting your credit score.
There are no hard and fast rules as each lender has its own criteria, but you can learn more about things like balance-to-limit ratios and debt-to-income ratios in our guide to how existing borrowing affects your credit score.
There's a lot of misunderstanding regarding what this service does and doesn't cover and it may not be as important as you think, so before placing any value on it read our guide to ID theft protection.
There are certain free credit report services and free trials available.
There have also been calls for free access to credit reports, something that is available in other countries such as the USA and Germany.
Read more in our article 'Should it be free to access your credit history?'
See if you can find the answers in our credit report and rating guides.