What is TransUnion?
TransUnion is one of the three main credit reference agencies in the UK. It collates information on people's past financial behaviour and the credit agreements they have had and presents it in a report, alongside an overall credit score. This report is used by lenders when considering applicants creditworthiness for loans, mortgages, credit cards and other financial products.
Global company TransUnion acquired the credit reference agency known as Callcredit in 2018. It kept the core of the business the same, including its commitment to allowing users free access to their credit scores through credit company Credit Karma (previously Noddle) and TotallyMoney. While it is gaining market share, TransUnion isn't used as widely by lenders as Experian and Equifax are.
TransUnion's key features
- Produces credit reports and ratings, which can be accessed for free through Credit Karma and TotallyMoney
- Credit Education section on the website, with articles on finance and credit scoring
- Credit Help offers support to people who have been unexpectedly turned down for credit or have other issues with their credit report
How does TransUnion work?
TransUnion gathers information from a number of sources, including from lenders and the electoral roll, to help assess people's past financial behaviour and how much risk they represent to lenders in the future. It looks specifically at users' history of making repayments on time, the total number of credit agreements in place and what proportion of the credit line they have available to them is being utilised. This information, alongside details of any major infringements, such as County Court Judgements or bankruptcy, are included in a credit report, which covers financial history for the previous 6 years.
As well as producing a credit report, which is shared with lenders when that person applies for a credit product, TransUnion also calculates an overall credit score and rating, which is based on a scale from 0-710. It must be stressed that this is TransUnion's credit score, as there is no universal credit score. Lenders and credit rating agencies devise their own credit scoring based on the information on your credit report.
How do TransUnion credit scores work - and what is a good score?
|TransUnion credit score||TransUnion credit rating||What this means for you|
|0-550||Very poor||You are likely to be turned down for most credit products, except from a handful of specialist lenders|
|551-565||Poor||You may be approved for some products, but are likely to have to pay a higher interest rate|
|566-603||Fair||You are fairly likely to be approved for credit products but will probably have a lower credit limit|
|604-627||Good||You are likely to be approved for all but the most competitive deals|
|628-710||Excellent||You are very likely to be approved for most credit products|
Is TransUnion accurate?
Each of the credit reference agencies has access to information from different lenders, which means the reports they produce don't tend to be the same. In addition, they each use their own calculations to come up with a credit rating and these are measured on different scales, so it is difficult to draw direct comparisons. TransUnion, Experian and Equifax all have high standards in terms of achieving accuracy in their reporting. That said, it is possible for errors to appear and, as such, it's important to check your reports with all three and to alert them to any mistakes in order to maximise your chances of being approved for credit in the future.
How much does TransUnion cost?
Unlike Experian and Equifax, which give users the option of accessing their credit reports for a monthly fee - although it's also possible to access both for free - TransUnion only provides its credit score and report through Credit Karma, TotallyMoney and checkmyfile. The pricing is as follows:
|Company||Cost to access TransUnion credit report|
|checkmyfile||£14.99 per month (to access credit reports from four providers)|
TransUnion customer reviews
Review site Trustpilot gives TransUnion a score of 1.9 out of 5, based on just over 200 reviews. Overall, there's quite a divergence in opinion from reviewers, with 40% of respondents categorising it as "excellent", while 52% stated that it is a "bad" company. The negative reviews tend to criticise the customer service and inaccuracies in reporting. The positive reviews, meanwhile, centre on good experiences with customer service and, specifically, the fast response in correcting any errors on reports.
The reviews are broadly in line with those for Experian and Equifax, with all three scoring less than 2 out of 5.
TransUnion pros and cons
- You can access your full TransUnion credit report and score for free with Credit Karma or TotallyMoney
- Through Credit Karma, TotallyMoney and paid-for service checkmyfile, you can be matched to loans and credit card deals that suit your credit rating and that you're likely to be accepted for
- You can also get a free statutory report direct from TransUnion, although there isn't as much detail as with the full report and credit rating
- As TransUnion isn't as widely used by lenders as Experian and Equifax, it isn't a good idea to just check your TransUnion report as you run the risk of being turned down for credit if your score is lower with one of the other agencies. Generally, it is good practice to check all of your credit reports, correcting any errors and keeping track of any changes
- It doesn't have the same facility to improve your credit score as Experian, which allows users to increase their score with Experian Boost
- While Experian and Equifax have roughly the same credit rating scale (Experian 0-999, Equifax 0-1000), TransUnion's scale of 0-710 makes comparisons across all three more difficult
Alternatives to TransUnion
TransUnion vs Experian
As the largest credit reference agency in the UK, Experian offers free access to your credit score, although it charges a monthly fee for its more detailed credit report. In addition, it also has Experian Boost, which utilises open banking to potentially increase a user's Experian credit score, for free. There is also an Identity Plus service, which scans the web for erroneous use of your password or log-in details to help protect you from identity theft or fraud.
TransUnion vs Equifax
Equifax is the second-largest credit reference agency, servicing users with credit reporting and identity protection. It charges a monthly fee to access the credit score and report directly, but you can also get the same information for free through ClearScore*. This works in a similar way to the arrangements TransUnion has with Credit Karma and TotallyMoney.
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