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How to Check Your Credit Score

Do you know what your credit score is? Or how to tell the difference between a credit score and a credit report? If not, you probably won’t know how to check your credit score, or how to keep it in good order. Knowing how to check your credit score is an important part of keeping your credit in good standing. No matter your financial situation, it is a good idea to keep an eye on your credit score so that you can maintain or improve it.

What is Your Credit Score?

Your credit score is a number that is derived from a calculation that takes into account aspects of your credit history, including your borrowing habits, missed payments and defaults, and the amount of credit you are using. This number gives potential lenders an idea of how likely you are to pay back any money they might agree to lend you.

What makes understanding your credit score complicated is that not all companies use the same scoring system, and lenders each have their preferred credit scoring companies, so you are likely to receive a different number when getting your credit score from different sources. Getting your credit report would give you more insight into your credit score and how it is generated, but your potential creditors don’t often have access to that detailed information – they have to make their decision based on the number representing this information.

Credit scores are generally represented by a number between 350 and 850, with the higher numbers showing a more successful credit holder, who is more likely to repay their debts – these are the people most likely to receive the credit they apply for. This doesn’t mean that having a lower credit score is bad – if you are coping financially, paying your creditors, and have no need to take out more credit, your credit score will build slowly on its own, and won’t cause you any difficulty in the meantime.

Who Would Need to Access Your Credit Score?

This personal information is not freely available to anyone, and should only be accessed by yourself, and when necessary, by your bank, your mortgage provider or letting agent, potential lenders when you apply for credit, utility, service, and insurance companies, debt collection agencies, and potential employers.

How to Check Your Credit Score

There are a number of ways you can check your credit score.

  • Sign up with a free credit scoring site – you may be limited as to how often you may check your score.
  • Sign up for a monthly subscription to a credit score service – you should receive monthly updates, or have a customer portal where you can view your credit score at certain times.
  • Check your latest statement from your bank, loan company, or other financial institution – many have begun to include this information in their client profiles. You may also be able to find it on your online profiles with each of these institutions.
  • Buy your credit score from a Credit-Reference Agency (CRA) or provider, such as Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, or FICO.

If you apply for your credit report from one of these CRAs, you will receive the information that is being taken into account when generating your credit score, but not the score itself. Each of the three main CRAs has their own recommendations as to how you should check your credit score, and which companies you should use:

Equifax

Equifax informs us that each person does not only have one set credit score, and that the score will change depending on which company is generating it, and which of your lenders report to which companies.

Sign up with Equifax Core Credit to receive a free Equifax credit report and VantageScore® 3.0 credit score each month, based on the information in your profile with Equifax.

Experian

Sign up with Experian to effortlessly gain access to your Experian credit report and your FICO credit score for free. You will have access to a user-friendly app in which you can view your FICO score, learn how to improve your credit score and your spending habits, and receive tips on how to save money. You can also set the app up with all your financial details and use it as a portal for managing your finances.

TransUnion

TransUnion recommends two companies as good places to get your credit score, and a third which is a great place to see your profiles from all the main CRAs.

  • TotallyMoney: this company is said to be the UKs only live, free credit score provider. Each time you log in, your credit score will be updated in real time. You will also be advised on how to improve your credit score, and you will be able to see the top card and loan offers valid to you, and know in advance whether you are likely to be accepted.
  • Credit Karma: on this site, your credit score will be updated on a weekly basis, and any time your situation changes, you will receive a notification and a full report. Learn what’s keeping your credit score down and how to improve it, and have access to information about loan and card offers that you might be eligible for.
  • checkmyfile: this is a paid service with a 30-day free trial. It will allow you to gather your data from the three main CRAs, as well as FICO. You can also access online support and dispute resolution from credit analysts in the UK.

 

Understanding your credit score is one of the first steps towards taking control of your debt. The next step is to get help. Reach out to the non-judgemental team at Debt Movement for impartial debt guidance and solutions.

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