The best way to check your credit score for free

7 min Read Published: 20 Jul 2023

It is useful to check your credit score regularly, but it is especially important to check before you apply for credit. Your credit score can give you a good indication of whether you will be accepted for the loan or credit card you want. It can also tell you if you need to work on repairing your credit history before you start any new applications. However, not everyone will know the best way to view their credit score. In this article, we show you how to check your credit score for free and highlight the credit reference agencies that create credit reports and come up with individual credit scores.

You can also watch Damien go through how to check your credit score in the video below.

What is a credit score?

Everyone in the UK will have a credit report that contains information about their credit history and past financial behaviour. These reports are put together by credit reference agencies. A credit reference agency collates information from lenders and official sources, such as the electoral roll, to build a picture of an individual’s creditworthiness. It then uses a calculation based on this data to come up with an overall credit score, which is represented as a number.

The three main credit reference agencies are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Each is likely to hold slightly different information about you and has their own metrics for coming up with a credit score. This means that you don’t have just one credit score or report, but rather three separate versions. This is made more complicated by the fact that they each have a different scale for their credit scoring, with Experian giving a score from 0-999, Equifax from 0-1000 and TransUnion from 0-710. This makes it difficult to draw comparisons across all three. In addition, when you apply for credit a lender will use the information on your credit reports to perform their own creditworthiness assessment before deciding whether to lend to you.

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How can I check my credit score and report for free?

It is a legal requirement that all of the credit reference agencies produce a statutory credit report that can be accessed for free. However, this tends to be a stripped back version of your full report, without a huge amount of detail included. A better option is to navigate the other available options to check your credit report for free with Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

How to check your Experian credit report for free

Experian is the most-used credit reference agency in the UK. There are a number of paid-for options for checking both your credit report and score, including a £14.99 monthly subscription, which gives you full access to all of Experian's services, as well as an option to take out a service that helps protect you from fraud Identity Plus – for £6.99 per month. Both of these are available to access for free during a 30-day trial, after which point payment is taken by direct debit, although you can cancel at any time and before any money is taken once you've checked your credit report.

Check out our article 'Experian review: is it the best way to check your credit score?' to learn more.

If you just want to check your Experian credit score, this is always available for free. Additionally, Experian Boost is also free. This service can potentially improve a user's Experian credit score by taking into account payment of subscription services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix, as well as council tax. We take a closer look in our full 'Experian Boost review'.

If you're looking to view your full Experian report for free, you can access it through the MSE Credit Club. This is a good way of keeping on top of your Experian report without having to commit to the relatively high monthly charge that is levied for going direct to Experian itself.

How to check your Equifax credit report for free

Equifax charges £10.95 per month to view the Equifax credit score and rating. This fee includes access to its 'Equifax WebDetect' identity theft and fraud protection service. As with Experian, this payment is taken on a monthly basis by direct debit. Customers are able to cancel the subscription at any time once they've checked their credit report. There is also a 30-day free trial available.

We have a full review of the service in our article 'Equifax review: Is it a good way to check your credit score?'.

It is possible to check your Equifax credit score and report for free through ClearScore, which has committed to never charging a fee. Read our article 'ClearScore review: How to check your credit score for free' to learn more.

It gives users unlimited access to their Equifax report, as well as ClearScore Protect, which works to protect users from identity theft. Instead of charging a fee, ClearScore is remunerated by marketing credit cards and loans that match a customer's credit rating and earning commission on sales.

How to check your TransUnion credit report for free

TransUnion, previously known as Callcredit, produces credit scores and reports. Unlike Experian and Equifax, there isn't a paid-for subscription service direct from TransUnion. Read our 'TransUnion review' to find out more.

TransUnion credit scores and reports can be viewed for free through credit brokers Credit Karma and TotallyMoney. Both companies make money through marketing credit products rather than charging an upfront fee. We have a full 'Credit Karma review' and a 'TotallyMoney review'.

Should I check all three credit reports?

The other way to check your TransUnion score is through checkmyfile, which gives you access to your credit score and report with all three of the main credit reference agencies, as well as Crediva. It is handy having everything in one place, but this service does cost £14.99 per month, although there is a 30-day free trial. Feel free to check out our full, independent 'Checkmyfile review'.

How do credit scores work?

There are different credit agencies are responsible for calculating credit scores in the UK, so the details for each one are likely to differ. Different lenders will also view credit scores in different ways. Some may make a call on your application based mostly on the report from the credit reference agency it chooses, while others will add more weight to its own assessment of your creditworthiness.

How is my credit score calculated?

Each of the credit reference agencies will collate information on your financial history from the past 6 years. They take this information, which generally comes from lenders you have previously had credit agreements with and official sources, such as court records or the electoral roll, and use their own calculations to come up with a credit score. Positive actions, such as making payments on time and staying within your credit limit, will be awarded with points being added, while negative infringements will lead to points being deducted. This means your credit score with each agency will be different and, importantly, isn't static. New entries on your credit report – for example, applying for a new credit card – will impact your credit score.

What does a credit score affect?

Your credit scores across all three credit reference agencies are vitally important as they will impact how likely you are to be accepted for all kinds of financial products, from credit cards and bank accounts to mobile phone contracts. Having a good credit score opens up more favourable terms and conditions, including lower interest rates and more flexible credit limits. A bad score, meanwhile, may mean you can only get credit from a specialist lender.

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We’ve teamed up with Creditec

  • Find out what credit cards you are eligible for
  • This will not affect your credit rating
  • 26.5% APR Representative (variable)

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Who looks at your credit score?

Lenders view the score, the associated credit rating and the underlying credit report from one or more of the credit reference agencies when assessing your application. They use this information, along with other in-house checks, to assess how risky it would be to lend money to you or extend a line of credit. In effect, they perform their own credit scoring. If the information on the credit report is inaccurate or out of date, you may have an impaired credit rating and are more likely to be turned down. By regularly checking your reports with Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, you can avoid this happening.

What is a good credit score?

Each credit reference agency calculates credit scores differently. This means that what constitutes a 'good' score will depend on which service your lender is using to assess you. You can see from the table below what figure you will need to hit in order to fall into the good category for each agency.

Experian credit rating

Rating category Credit score
Excellent 961-999
Good 881-960
Fair 721-880
Poor 561-720
Very poor 0-560

TransUnion credit rating

Rating category Credit score
Excellent 628-710
Good 604-627
Fair 566-603
Poor 551-565
Very poor 0-550

Equifax credit rating

Rating category Credit score
Excellent 811-1000
Very good 671-810
Good 531-670
Fair 439-530
Poor 0-438

You can find out more about what makes a good credit score by reading our article 'What is a good credit score – and how to improve yours'.

How to improve your credit score

Once you have checked your credit score with one or more of the agencies, you may be looking for ways to improve it to increase your chances of being approved for a loan or other credit product. There are simple steps you can take, including making sure you are on the electoral roll and ensuring that all of the information on your credit reports is correct and not out of date. More suggestions can be found in our article 'How to improve your credit score quickly'.

In addition to this, you may wish to consider using Experian Boost. This service uses open banking to look at your spending habits including paying for subscription services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix, as well as paying council tax and putting money into savings or investments. This information can potentially give an instant lift to your Experian credit score. People with very low credit scores may wish to use LOQBOX *, which works to improve your credit score across all of the agencies over a period of time by demonstrating your ability to pay back money on time.

 

If a link has an * beside it this means that it is an affiliated link. If you go via the link Money to the Masses may receive a small fee which helps keep Money to the Masses free to use. But as you can clearly see this has in no way influenced this independent and balanced review of the product. The following link can be used if you do not wish to help Money to the Masses or take advantage of any exclusive offers - LOQBOX, Credit Karma