A friend of mine recently spoke about his new mortgage and I asked if he knew his credit score. He said he knew about Experian but nothing more.
So I thought many of you may not know about Credit Reference Agencies (CRAs) in the UK and what they track to generate your credit score. My friend has been living in the UK for 3 years now with no clue about these.
The main four UK Credit Reference Agencies are Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, and Crediva. They report both public and credit-related information about individuals, from a variety of sources. This information (known as your Credit Report) will be provided to prospective lenders, landlords and employers upon request to help them verify your identity and, in the case of lending, determine your creditworthiness and likelihood of defaulting on payments.
As the Credit Reference Agencies are separate organisations, they record and update information independently from one another. As such, your information at each agency will likely be different, meaning you have four separate Credit Reports – one from each agency.
Below are some of the things (but not limited to) that CRAs consider while generating your credit report and providing you with a score -
- Payment history (including missed payments)
- Borrowing (credit cards, loans, mortgages)
- Credit card utilization
- Total credit card limits
- Credit card cash withdrawals
- Active accounts (bank accounts, credit cards, loan, mortgage, telecom, utility)
- Hard searches - When you apply for credit
- Soft searches - When you browse for credit products or check your credit report
- Address history
- Financial connections (joint bank accounts, joint mortgages)
- Time on the electoral roll
- Debt collector searches
- Outstanding legal action (County Court Judgments, etc.)
Cifas warning (victim of identity fraud)
ClearScore - Use this to check your Equifax credit score (out of 1000) and report for free.
Moneysupermarket Credit Monitor or
TotallyMoney - Use these to check your TransUnion credit score (out of 710) and report for free.
MSE Credit Club - Use this to check your Experian credit score (out of 999) and report for free.
checkmyfile - Use this to check your credit score and report from all Credit Reference Agencies (including Crediva) in one place. This is a paid app with a trial option (for free).
I have personally used all of these products and can vouch for them. My go-to apps though are ClearScore, Credit Karma, and MSE Credit Club.