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Where can you find your credit rating?

Your credit rating (also called a credit score) is important but is perhaps something you haven’t given much thought to. It dictates whether you will be allowed to borrow money and at what interest rate. It’s what creditors use to determine whether they should accept your application and you can also use it to see how well you are doing in relation to managing your borrowing and finances.

But where can you find your credit rating? Here, we’ve broken this down for you:

How to find your credit rating

The main credit reference agencies that hold all of the data on your finances and maintain your credit rating include:

Each one offers a slightly different service and scores you differently.  Lenders, such as credit card companies, mortgage providers and banks, will keep credit reference agencies updated with new credit agreements and the status of their customers’ accounts.

They will ask that marks are put against late payments or for the amount owed to be updated if you have paid a substantial amount off. If there are any discrepancies on your credit report, you should speak to the lender first, as they provide the information on your file.

Each credit reference agency will rate you differently and use different scoring systems, but the information on each account should be the same. We’ve broken this down in our blogpost on improving your credit rating – you can read this here – but essentially:

  • Experian scores you between 999 (excellent) and 0 (no credit rating). A rating between 721 and 880 should get you a good deal on a credit product.
  •  Equifax scores you between 700 (excellent) and 0 (no credit rating). A rating between 380 and 419 is an okay credit score and you should get accepted for most credit products.
  •  Noddle rates you on a score of 1-5. Five is an excellent score and 1 is poor.

Bear these rating systems in mind when looking at your credit report. Always try to 
improve your credit rating to keep it within the good and higher brackets to enjoy the best interest rate on your borrowing.

There are also a variety of other credit report services. Clearscore, for example, is run by Equifax but can give you a quick and free snapshot of your credit rating.

How to get a copy of your credit report

You can access your credit report via one of these credit reference agencies. They will ask you to set up an account and fill in your details, which include:

  • Your full name
  • Six years of address history
  • Your bank account details
  • Details of any credit accounts you have open

These details will then be cross-referenced against the information 
lenders have uploaded to their database.

How much does it cost to get your credit report?

Noddle allows you to access your credit report for free for life. This is one of the fastest growing services in the UK and is competing with Experian and Equifax, as it offers a similar level of detail without the cost.

Do you need to check all of the credit reference agencies?

You shouldn’t need to, but if this is the first time you are checking your credit report it may be a good idea. There may be something listed differently on one that needs rectifying, or some information may not be there at all.

Why you should check your credit report

It’s very important you check your credit report once or twice a year – especially if you are considering taking on credit in the near future. Knowing your report is in good order, and your rating is relatively high, means you stand more of a chance of being accepted for credit in the future.

It’s worth noting you can also get monthly alerts that monitor fraudulent activity and changes to your credit report so you can keep an eye on it, all year round.

When checking your credit report here’s what to look out for:

1. Check for fraudulent activity – In this digital age, hackers and fraudsters are increasingly trying to gain access to people’s bank and online shopping accounts. This means you need to be more careful than ever and keep a close eye on your credit report to look for any fraudulent accounts that may be on there.

For example, if a fraudster gains access to your personal details they may be able to take on a loan in your name, which could lead to serious issues for you further down the line if they don’t pay this back. They could also take over any existing accounts, take out contracts in your name and have genuine documents, such as a drivers licence or passport, created in your name. Action Fraud has more information on identity theft and what this means here.

2. Keep an eye on any open credit accounts –
Lenders should keep the status of your account regularly updated, which means you can check if there are any issues. This also allows you to check if there have been any errors that could cause you problems if they are not rectified. You will also be able to see how much debt is outstanding, whether there have been any late payments and the general condition of the account.

3. Check your payments are listed as up to date – Most credit reports offer a breakdown of your payments, which are labelled as ‘paid’, ‘satisfied’ or ‘late’.

Status codes on your credit report explained

Credit reference agencies use a number of symbols and codes to let you see where you are at with your credit accounts. Here is a quick breakdown of what these mean:

  • Green tick – payments are up to date.
  • D – The credit account isn’t being used and you don’t owe anything.
  • Numbers 1-6 in a yellow or red circle – these are the number of months you are late making repayments.
  • UC/U – the lender hasn’t given any information about the account, this may be because it has just been set up or you are waiting on something to be delivered.
  • ST – account is settled or closed.
  • QY – the account is under review.
  • SF – the account has been satisfied after a default.
  • DM – there is a debt management plan in place on the account.
  • DF – the account is in default.
  • AA – the account is in early stages of arrears.

These symbols can vary slightly for each credit reference agency, so if there are any you don’t recognise or understand on your report, contact them to confirm what they mean.

When should you check your credit rating?

You should always quickly check your rating before you apply for any credit – especially when applying for large amounts of money, such as a mortgage or car finance.

This will help you understand whether or not you will be accepted for the credit product. It can also avoid hard footprints being listed on your credit report that can affect your rating.

What is a footprint on your credit report?

Every time a lender performs a credit check on you, there will be a mark added to your credit report to show this. Other lenders can see this if you apply for more than one product and it may make them nervous about accepting your application.  

There are two types of footprint though – hard and soft. Lenders should only be able to see hard footprints and these are the only ones that will be noted on your report.

It may be worth checking with the lender first, before making an application, to see which type of search they perform. Some mortgage lenders, for example, may only perform soft checks when you apply for a decision in principle, then a hard check later when you are actually applying.

How to improve your credit rating

There are a number of quick fixes you can do to improve your credit rating but getting your rating up to a high standard takes time and patience. Here are a couple of things to check and do straight away:

  1. Sign onto the electoral roll – Your credit rating can be affected if you are not on the electoral roll. This is because credit reference agencies use this as proof of your current, permanent address. It takes just five minutes to sign onto or update your details on the electoral roll – click here to fill in the form on the Gov website.
  2. Check for any mistakes on your report – Make sure all the information the credit reference agencies have on you is correct because a credit product status that has not been updated can really affect your rating. You should also ensure your address is correct because credit reference agencies use this to see what credit products are linked to it, to determine what should be on your report.
  3. Close dormant bank accounts and credit cards – It’s best to remove any credit you are not using, as creditors may question why you are applying for more if this is sitting there not being accessed.
  4. Remove people you are no longer financially linked with – If you once had a joint debt with someone they will now be linked to you on your credit report and may affect your ability to get credit if they have any serious debt issues. It’s best to speak to your favoured credit reference agency and have them removed.

We have an in depth guide here which looks into how to improve your credit rating. Alternatively, our expert team at PayPlan is on hand six days a week to discuss all things debt and can offer free, impartial advice about your situation. Give them a call on 0800 316 1833 or get in touch via our contact form.

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