Free credit check

Having a good credit score usually means you’ll find it easier to borrow money at a lower rate of interest. We’ve partnered with Experian so you can see your credit score for free with us – making it easier for you to take control of your finances.

Having a good credit score usually means you’ll find it easier to borrow money at a lower rate of interest. We’ve partnered with Experian so you can see your credit score for free with us – making it easier for you to take control of your finances.

What is a credit score?

A credit score or a credit rating is an assessment of how likely you are to pay back money you borrow. It’s based on things like your previous credit history, current level of borrowing and whether you pay your bills and debts on time. 

Generally speaking, the higher your credit score, the better your chance of borrowing money at the best rates. 

How does a credit score work?

Every time you apply for credit – like a loan, credit card, mortgage, car finance or even a mobile phone contract – your credit score will be calculated to help lenders decide whether to loan you money or give you the contract. 

There are three main credit scoring agencies in the UK – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. They are also referred to as credit reference agencies (CRAs)

Your credit rating, or credit score, will vary between different agencies as they use their own methods and experience in weighing up who’s likely to pay back or default. 

Different agencies use different scoring scales. What counts as a good score will differ because of the different scales. 
 
Lenders are looking to see that you are responsible with money and, if you’ve borrowed before, whether payments were made in full and on time. Typically, lenders will take into account information: 

  • in your credit report 
  • that you’ve given in your application 
  • that they hold about you already if you’re an existing customer 

Why should you check your credit report?

Because your credit record is so important, you need to make sure what’s in there is correct. It will also be useful to help you:  

  • keep track of your personal finances – you’ll see your credit accounts and what’s outstanding  
  • check addresses on old accounts – so that you can make sure your current address is on file 
  • improve your credit rating – you’ll be able to see if there’s a problem area in your credit rating, what’s causing it and how to improve it. For example, you can see if you’re paying bills late and the impact it has on your score. You can also see what products are available that might help, like using a credit-building card.  
  • getting ready to buy something big on credit – if you know you’ll be in the market for a loan or mortgage soon, you can see what – if any – issues you’ll face and do your best to improve your score. It will also help you work out which products you may or may not be eligible for. You can use our loans eligibility checker for that too. 
  • monitor a loan you are a guarantor of – you should be able to check that the loan is being paid in full and on time so you can take action quickly if it isn’t  
  • check for identity theft – you’ll quickly be able to see anything suspicious, like accounts being opened in your name.  

Is a credit report free?

Yes, we’ve partnered with Experian, the largest credit reference agency, to provide access to your Experian credit score for free. We’re busy in the background developing our app so we can show you your full report too, and we’ll let you know as soon as this is available. 

You should always be able to get a ‘statutory’ credit report free directly from the credit reference agency, which includes the basic information about you including: 

  • any credit accounts in your name
  • missed payments or defaults
  • if you’re on the electoral roll
  • recent searches of your credit file
  • any financial links with other people  

But the statutory report won’t necessarily give you all the information available, including your credit score.  

How a poor credit rating can affect you

A poor credit rating means that potential lenders will see you as a higher risk than someone with a good credit rating. They will be concerned that they are less likely to get what they lend you back and on time. The result of this can mean that you could: 

  • be charged higher interest rates so you’re unlikely to get the best deals available 
  • be given a smaller credit limit so you may not be offered as much as you want to borrow 
  • be rejected outright  
  • find you have less choice between providers as some lenders won’t offer credit to people who don’t reach a particular score 

It’s worth knowing that a lender doesn’t have to give you the interest rate they are advertising.  
 
These ‘representative APR’ rates only have to be given to at least 51% (just over half) of successful applicants. This means that up to 49% of people will end up paying a different – higher – rate. Typically, these will be people with a poor credit history, or those new to credit.  
 
This is why it’s important to ask the lender what APR and interest rate you’ll be charged before you apply for credit. A quick way of doing this is to see which loans you are likely to be eligible for. Our eligibility checkers for loans and credit cards use a soft credit check, which doesn’t leave a mark on your credit file.  

What’s in your credit report?

Credit reports don’t just cover loans and credit cards, but also include other financial information, like utility bills. You pay these after you’ve used the energy, so are, in effect, getting credit. Mobile-phone contracts, store cards and mortgages are also included. You might find insurance policies are covered too if you pay monthly rather than annually in advance.  

Your full credit report also includes things like: 

  • your full name and date of birth
  • whether you’re on the electoral roll
  • addresses you've been linked to in the past, like those you've given to lenders on application forms
  • a list of your current credit accounts, plus any that you’ve closed or settled in the last six years. The details include: 
    • the credit limit or loan amount 
    • the outstanding balance on each account, including mortgages
  • any overdrafts you have on your current account
  • details about your financial behaviour, like whether you’ve made late payments or missed payments altogether, and how many times that’s happened
  • details and dates of any hard credit checks lenders have carried out because you applied for credit. It also includes soft credit checks, but only you can see these
  • any financial links with other people – for example, if you have a joint bank account or mortgage with someone or are a guarantor on a loan. This is because your financial associates' circumstances may affect your ability to repay money
  • any public information records held against your name, like County Court Judgments (CCJs) for non-payment of debts, Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) or bankruptcies in the last six years
  • details on whether you’ve ever been a victim of fraud through a notification from fraud prevention agency Cifas. This notification is there to help companies take extra steps to protect you from fraudsters. This information won’t affect your credit score.
  • Checking your credit report also allows you to amend any of these things if they’re not right. It’s important to do this as soon as you can by getting in touch directly with the credit reference agency. 

Your credit report won’t include: 

  • how much you earn 
  • any student loans 
  • if you’ve got a criminal record 
  • council tax arrears 
  • parking or driving fines 

But you may be asked for this information when you’re applying for a loan or other products.  

How to get started?

You can get your Experian Credit Score from us, for free, in the Meerkat app. Alternatively, you can get your score by using a credit reference agency or another provider. Three examples of these are Experian, Equifax or TransUnion (formerly Callcredit).

Download the Meerkat app now to get started.

Frequently asked questions

How can I improve my credit score?

If your credit score is low, there may be things you can do to improve it. 

  • Make sure you’re on the electoral register for your current address. If you’re not, you can register online or contact your local Electoral Registration Office and ask them to send you a form to complete and return by post.
  • Set up direct debits or regular payments to make sure that your bills and card payments are always made on time.
  • Avoid going to the limit of your overdraft or credit card so that lenders can see you’re not using all the credit that’s available to you – keeping your credit utilisation rate low. 
  • Pay off existing debts before applying for new debt, otherwise banks, building societies and credit-card companies might be hesitant about lending you more. 
  • Try not to move home too often – Being at an address for a short period of time will negatively impact your score. The longer you’re at an address, the more of a positive impact it will have.  

Using a credit building card, card can also help repair your credit. This type of card is designed for people with little, or a bad, credit history. By using one of these cards and paying off your bill on time and in full each and every month, you can prove that you’re creditworthy and your credit score should increase to reflect this.  

While useful to some, credit-builder cards can be expensive. So, once you’ve improved your credit score, it would be sensible to come back and compare cards with lower rates of interest. 

It’s not an overnight thing. It can take time for your credit history to rebuild – for example, as the number of on-time payments you make increases cumulatively.  

See more on building your credit score

How is my credit score calculated?

Credit Reference Agencies (CRA) calculate scores in similar but slightly different ways. Because of this, each may give you a different score. They may also weight things slightly differently, so some things may be seen as a bigger blemish or more of a positive, depending on the CRA.  
 
The further back in time something was, the less weight it might be given. For example, if you made late payments on a credit card five years ago but have since paid on time, it may have less impact on your score than paying your credit cards late every month for the last three months. 
 
We’re working with the largest credit reference agency Experian.  Here are some things they look at while calculating your score 
 
The Experian Credit Score runs from 0-999. It’s based on information in your Experian Credit Report including: 

  • how often you apply for credit 
  • how much you owe 
  • whether you make payments on time 

Typically, you’ll lose points for having records on your report that may look negative to companies, like late payments and defaults. You’ll gain points for things that companies usually view positively, like consistently making payments on time and being on the electoral roll. 

 The other CRAs will also take these kinds of financial behaviours into account when calculating their scores. They each use their own proprietary method for working out your credit worthiness. 

How many times can I check my credit report?

As often as you like. The MoneyHelper Service, set up by the government to offer free, impartial financial advice, recommends you check your credit record regularly – particularly if you haven’t done so for a while – so you can pick up any issues. 
 
Some of the credit reference agencies run monitoring services on your record, for which they’ll charge you a fee.  
 
If you’re thinking about buying a new home, buying a car or getting a loan or credit card it can be a good idea to check your credit record a few months ahead. That way, you can resolve any issues and get an idea of how good your rating is. You may have time to improve it so you can get a better interest rate when you come to borrow.  

How often is my credit report updated?

Your credit report will be updated every 30 days, sometimes more regularly, as new information comes in at different times during the month. So, for example, if you’ve paid your credit card bill on time, your report will reflect that payment shortly after it’s been made.   
 
It could take between four to eight weeks for new information to appear on your report, depending on how long it takes lenders to send an update and for the CRA to update their files. 
 
If you apply for credit, a record of your application, which lenders can see, will be added to your file straight away. Lenders may also look at your records from time to time to make you a promotional offer, like increasing your credit limit, or offering you a pre-approved loan. When you check your own report or you use a credit monitoring service, this is recorded as a soft credit check<link to new page when live>. 
 
If you pay off the same, regular bills every month on time, you wouldn’t expect your credit score to change much. On the other hand, if you finish paying off a big loan or mortgage, you might notice a small jump in the following month or so. 
 
Records are usually kept for around six years, so every month there may also be records that are removed from your file. But the actual length of time something stays on the record can vary depending on the type of information, and where it originally came from 

Why is my credit score different when I check it with other tools?

Not all credit reference agencies use the same scoring system. Experian gives scores up to 999, while for others the top score may be 710. It also depends on when your score was last updated or if all your personal details match. For example, you might have our app and Experian’s app, but they each show different scores. This could be because you may not have updated your address on one of the apps, or, the 30-day update has happened on one, but there’s a few days still to go on the other.  

What is a good credit score?

A good score will vary from credit reference agency to credit reference agency. Here’s a guide to what they say in general terms about their scores. 

 

Experian

Equifax

Clearscore

TransUnion/
Credit Karma

Fair

721-880

531-670

380-419

566-603

Good

881-960

671-810

420-465

604-627

Excellent

961-999

811-1000

466+

628-710

 
Although Clearscore uses Equifax information its credit scores are now different from Equifax, which moved to a score out of 1,000 in April 2021. 

Why have I been refused credit?

Lenders can reject your application for a number of reasons. Your credit score is only one of the factors that contribute to their decision. Your answers on the application form and any information they hold about you already will also be factors. 

Some lenders are more risk-averse than others, so may have specific requirements around how much and who they will lend to. It’s always down to the lender to make the decision – not the credit reference agency – so ask them why you were turned down.  

Some of the reasons that a lender may decide not to lend to you could include: 

  • not being able to confirm your identity or address – you may be able to fix this by registering on the electoral roll 
  • your credit history is “thin” – if you haven’t used credit much before, there won’t be much evidence of you having borrowed and paid back 
  • you’ve a long-term history of late or missed payments, defaults or County Court Judgments on your credit record 
  • you’ve made multiple applications in a short space of time – lenders may see this as a sign that you’re in financial trouble. 
  • there was a mistake on your application form – this could be as simple as writing your address differently from how it’s officially recorded, for example, writing ‘Flat C, 32 Station Road’  if it should be written as ‘32C Station Road’. 
  • you’ve changed jobs frequently or aren’t earning enough –you may be seen as a higher risk  
  • you’re not the type of customer they want – some companies may specifically target certain types of customers for their own business reasons 
  • you’re financially associated with someone with a poor credit history 

How do I make a complaint about being turned down?

Before making a complaint about being turned down for a loan or any other kind of credit, it’s best to ask the reason for refusal. You should also check your credit score<link to Free credit score tool> to see if there are any mistakes or issues that can be resolved. If you were applying for a credit card, our guide to why your credit card application was declined might also help. 
 
If you’re not satisfied with the reasons you’re given and you’ve checked your credit report, then you’ll have to follow the potential lender’s official complaints process. If you’re still not happy, you might be able to take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman. 

Can I be refused credit if my score is 999?

Yes, even with the highest credit scores possible, lenders can still say no. It’s up to them who they want to lend their money to – just like how a shop or restaurant can refuse to serve you, even if you have the money to pay for what you want. 

It’s worth knowing that while lenders will look at your whole record, they will be more interested in how you pay back your debts. So if your credit score is high because you’re paying all your bills on time but you’ve missed loan or credit card payments in the past, it could put a lender off. 

If I apply for credit, will it affect my credit score and credit report?

Yes, it can do. When you make an application for credit the lender will run a search that’s recorded on your credit history – a hard search. This could have a slightly negative impact on your credit score in the first instance, but paying your loan back regularly on time should mean that your score will recover over time. 
 
If you make multiple applications at the same time, it could have a really detrimental effect on your credit score. Any potential lender might see it as an indicator of financial difficulties. 

Will insurance providers run a credit check on me?

Car insurance providers will look at your credit score when you compare quotes. 

This is a soft search, simply to check that the details you’ve given them are accurate. It won’t affect your credit score and can only be seen by you. 

However, if you decide to pay for your car insurance monthly instead of paying your premium up-front, the provider will carry out a hard search. This will show up on your record and can be seen by other lenders too. By entering into a monthly insurance repayment premium, you are entering into a credit agreement with the provider and this will show on your credit file. 

What should I do if I think I've been a victim of fraud?

If the fraud involves debit or credit cards, or online banking or cheques, you should contact your bank or credit card company immediately. You should also contact Action Fraud. You can report a fraud via its online fraud reporting tool, or by calling on 0300 123 2040.  
 
If you think you’ve been a victim of identity fraud – where someone steals your personal details and uses them for their own financial gain – you need to understand the full picture of what they’ve done.  
 
You should check your credit report as soon as possible to see if there are new searches or accounts that you didn’t apply for. If you can see these, you can contact the lenders directly or use the CRA’s support teams to raise questions on your behalf about these accounts.  
 
The credit agency and financial companies’ specialist fraud teams should be able to help you clear up your credit report. 
 
Once the information has been confirmed as arising from fraud, the lender will remove it from your report. 
 
You could consider additional security options, such as protective registration from Cifas or a credit report password – where this is possible. This should add additional protection, but may add a layer of complication when you apply for credit yourself. 

Can I have something removed from my credit report?

If you feel that something is not correct on your credit report, you can contact the CRA, who will contact the company to investigate. If the information is found to be incorrect, the company will correct this and your Experian Credit Report will be updated. If the company do not agree, you’ll have to contact them directly to resolve ths issue. 
 
You are also able to add notes to your Experian Credit Report for companies to consider when they are making credit decisions about you. This is called a notice of correction. You can use these to explain reasons why things have happened, or asking companies not to extend more credit to you. Companies must read any notices of correction you've added if you apply to them for credit, but they don't have to take them into account when deciding whether to lend to you. 

Where can I find out more about my credit information and how lenders use it?

There are three main credit reference agencies (CRAs) in the UK that collect information on how well you manage credit and make payments. They are: 

  • Experian 
  • Equifax 
  • TransUnion 

The information is supplied by the companies that offer credit – banks, credit card companies, loan providers, insurance providers, utility companies, mobile phone operators and so on. 

Each of the CRAs holds a file on you. This credit report won’t be exactly the same with all three agencies as they won’t all collect the same information from the same companies. 
 
You can get free access to some of the information in these reports. Find out more about free credit checks

What information is held on my credit report?

Your credit report includes a mix of personal details, like your name, address and date of birth. It also includes information about what credit you’re using, how you’re paying it back and how much credit is currently available to you. 
 
Public information such as whether you’ve defaulted on a loan and have been taken to court for non-payment or have been made bankrupt will be recorded too.  
 
A good way of seeing exactly the kind of information that’s held about it is to take advantage of a free credit check. Then you’ll be able to see the full detail for yourself. 

How do I get a statutory credit report?

The right to see information held about you, including information held by CRAs, is enshrined in law.  
 
In the past, it cost £2 for a statutory credit report, but it’s now free. However, your statutory report won’t necessarily have your credit score included. 
 
You can apply to each of the main credit reference agencies for a statutory report online: 

TransUnion also offers access to its service through credit broker Credit Karma, and Equifax does so with financial marketplace ClearScore. They may also offer via free trials of their credit monitoring services. 
 
You can only get a statutory report about yourself, so your spouse, partner or anyone you’re acting as a guarantor for or applying for credit with will need to get their own report. 
 
You can check your credit score with our partner, Experian, the largest credit reference agency. 
 
See our guide to free credit checks.

How do I add my electoral roll information to my Experian Credit Report if I live in Jersey or Guernsey?

If you live in Jersey - Experian doesn’t have access to your electoral roll information in the same way as it would in the UK. If you want it confirmed that you were on the Jersey Electoral Register on the date it was compiled, you’ll have to download and complete a form from the Data Commissioner to give permission for that information to be shared. 
 
 If you live in Guernsey -  Experian can’t access electoral information about you if you live in Guernsey, so it won’t appear on your credit report automatically. However, it can usually update your report to show you’ve registered to vote. Simply get in touch with Experian and send them proof of your registration. You can find out more about registering to vote in Guernsey.  

Who looks at your credit report?

Generally speaking, only companies or organisations with a legitimate interest can look at your credit report, for example – when you’re asking for a loan. 

These may include: 

  • Banks  
  • Mortgage providers  
  • Creditors and lenders 
  • Utility and service companies 
  • Mobile phone companies 
  • Debt collection agencies 
  • Insurance companies 

In addition to this, other organisations or people may also want to look at your records including: 

  • Government agencies – in some situations, government agencies can check information on your credit report. This could be to work out child support payments, for example, or to process an application for certain licences. 
  • Letting agents and landlords – to confirm your identity and see how likely you are to pay your rent on time, your potential landlord or letting agency may ask to check information on your credit report.  
  • Potential employers – because of the type of job you’re applying for, some employers might ask for information from your credit report as part of their screening process. An example could be a role in which you’d be handling large sums of money, which would come with a high level of responsibility. You could, of course always say no, but this might damage your chance of getting the job. 

What is a CRA?

A CRA is a credit reference agency. CRAs are independent organisations that securely hold data about you – including things like your credit applications, accounts, and financial behaviour.  
 
Compare the Market works with Experian, the largest credit reference agency in the UK, to offer you free access to your credit score.

The role of CRAs includes: 

  • collecting and holding people’s credit information and other relevant data 
  • using this information to help companies and their customers 
  • making sure your data is accurate, up-to-date and fraud-free 

CRAs only hold very specific types of information about you and they have a very limited remit around credit so they: 

  • don’t hold information about race, religion, sexuality, political beliefs or medical history 
  • don’t make any lending decisions – they don’t say yes or no to giving your credit – that’s entirely up to the lender 
  • aren’t told which applications are successful or refused 
  • don’t know why you may have been refused credit 
  • don’t hold a blacklist of people or properties 

All three CRAs won’t hold the same information about you, as some companies don’t share details about their customers with all CRAs, and they may share different types of data too. 

What can lenders and other companies see on my credit report?

What lenders see depends what kind of company is accessing your report, and why. For example, if a company does a soft search of your report, they’ll see less information than if they did a hard search. 
 
It’s worth knowing that companies don’t always need your consent to do a search on you, but they must have a legitimate reason for doing so, for example For example – you’ve applied for a loan with them. 
 
You do, however, retain some privacy. Companies looking at your file can’t see the names of your current and past lenders. They also can’t see soft credit searches on your report – when you look at your own credit report, you’ll see all the searches that have been made. 
 
Find out more about who can see your credit report. 

Who decides if I'm approved for credit?

The decision about whether to lend you money or extend your credit is entirely down to the company you’ve applied to. They will use your credit information to help them make a decision, but the final yes or no is based on their own lending criteria. 
 
A credit reference agency can’t and won’t approve or reject loan applications. 

Who will see my CCJ?

If you get a county court judgment (CCJ) or a high court judgment, it will be put on a public database – the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines – and stay on there for six years. Anyone who pays a small fee and checks the Register can see the entry. 

They'll be able to see: 

  • your name and address 
  • the case and court number 
  • the amount of money owed 

This CCJ check won’t show them who you owe the money to. 

It is possible to get the judgment removed from the register if you pay the amount in full and within one month. You’ll need to write to the court to say you’ve paid and send proof of payment from the person or business that was owed money.

If you pay after one month you can get the record of the judgment marked as ‘satisfied’ in the register so anyone looking will know it’s been paid off. But in this case it’ll stay on the register for six years.  

Who will see my IVA?

Your creditors will be told about your Individual Voluntary Arrangement IVA to help pay off your outstanding debts. This can include more than just banks – if you owe money to your council, mobile phone provider or utility suppliers, they’ll also be told. If you’re self-employed, HMRC and your trade creditors will be notified about your IVA. 

The details of your IVA are on the appropriate register for where you live in the UK, which anyone can view online.  

  • In England and Wales it’s the Individual Insolvency Register 
  • In Scotland it’s the Register of Insolvencies 
  • In Northern Ireland it’s the Individual Voluntary Arrangement Register 

However, the Register is usually only used by people working in the insolvency or credit industries – so it's unlikely your friends and neighbours will hear about your IVA. 

Who will see that I'm bankrupt, have a County Court Judgement (CCJ) or an Individual voluntary agreement (IVA)?

Details of who had been made bankrupt used to be published in the local newspaper for the area, but that’s no longer the case. Instead they are published in a public register. 

  • In England and Wales it’s the Individual Insolvency Register 
  • In Scotland it’s the Register of Insolvencies
  • In Northern Ireland the Northern Ireland Court and Tribunals Service holds information on people who have been declared bankrupt within the last 10 years. This information is held in an online database, which can be searched by the public for a fee 

See more about bankruptcy