Along with other things, lenders will use your credit report to decide whether they will lend to you, and what kind of mortgage they’ll offer you. So understanding your full report is really useful for understanding the mortgage application process.
In this guide, you’ll find:
Your credit report is put together by independent companies known as credit reference agencies. In the UK, there are three main ones:
These agencies have access to your financial and credit history, and that’s how they put together your report. You can use any of these to get a copy of your credit report. But they differ in what they show you.
For a detailed and thorough overview of everything in your credit record, go to checkmyfile. Check My File shows you the information from all three credit checkers on the same report. And you can download your report for free with a 30 day trial.
Your credit report is your financial history from the last six years. It will show the following things:
Electoral Roll - your credit report will include whether you’re on the electoral register. This is often the first thing a lender will check because it’s a quick and easy way for them to check your details like your name and address.
Credit accounts - your credit report will include your bank and credit card accounts, outstanding credit agreements like loans and any debts you have. The information will show whether you make repayments in full and on time, whether you have missed any payments, defaulted, and whether you are actively using any credit available to you.
Current account - your credit report will say who provides your current account and details of your overdraft amount.
Personal details - your credit report will say your date of birth, name, current address and any previous addresses.
Financial links - your credit report will show the details of anyone you share a financial link with, like a joint account. This includes any joint credit agreements.
Public records & fraud information - your credit report will detail any outstanding County Court Judgements (CCJs), bankruptcies, individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs) and repossessions. It’ll contain any information around fraud – whether you have been involved in any fraudulent activity or if someone has committed fraud in your name.
The credit reference agencies create your credit report from each of these things. They use this information to calculate your overall ‘credit score’.
A credit score is a number on a scale that shows how good your credit borrowing has been in the past. A high score tells you you’ve had a good history with credit, for example, you’ve paid credit back on time. And a low score shows you’ve had credit issues, for example, you’ve missed payments in the past.
A credit score will appear as ‘very poor’, ‘poor’, ‘fair’, ‘good’ or ‘excellent’.
There are two ways you might get a credit score. One is from a credit referencing agency, and the other is from the lender you’re applying for a mortgage with. Both are calculated from your credit report, and both are a number on a scale.
A credit score created by a credit reference agency: This is the most common way to get a credit score and will be available to you from the credit referencing agencies like Experian, Equifax and Trans Union. Each agency has its own way of creating a credit score and you can do a credit check to see what your score is. Your score will change slightly depending on which agency you check. To get a complete and thorough overview of your credit history, use checkmyfile.
A credit score created by a lender: This is when your lender looks at your credit file and creates a score that allows them to assess whether they want to lend to you. Each lender will have different criteria for what makes a ‘good’ credit score, using slightly different data points or requirements. Generally, you won’t see this score, the lender generates it for themselves during the mortgage application process.
Each credit reference agency has a different way of defining what makes a credit score fall into the categories of: excellent, good, fair, poor or very poor.
Experian - measure their scores on a 0-999 scale
Equifax - measure scores on a 0-700 scale
TransUnion - measure scores on a 0-710 scale
This is how the three main UK credit reference agencies categorise their scores:
The scores are unique to the credit reference agency that calculates them. Lenders usually have their own criteria for what makes a ‘good’ credit score and these should only be used as a guide.
Credit reference agencies like Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union by law have to give you a copy to your credit report for free.
You can request your credit report in either a digital or physical format. To request the digital report you’ll need to go online, but you can also ask for it to be posted to you.
You can ask for your credit report from any credit reference agencies. And you can request your credit score from them as well. Here are some popular credit referencing agencies:
A lender will always do a credit check on you when you apply for a mortgage. They do this so they know your history with credit. The lender won’t let you know what your score is, only if they’re going to accept your mortgage application or not.
Being refused for a credit agreement or mortgage can actually have a negative impact on your credit score. So it’s always a good idea to find out your score before applying for a mortgage.
The credit rating you’re given by a credit reference agency might differ from one you get from a mortgage lender. Even though they’re based on the same information, a lender’s criteria for creating credit scores could be different. For this reason, we recommend getting a really thorough overview of your credit report from checkmyfile because they will give you the most detailed look at your credit history. Their reports show you your report from each credit reference agency side by side.
There are two main reasons you should check your credit report and credit score:
When you’re applying for new credit agreements, like a mortgage.
If you’re considering applying for a mortgage, loan or credit card, knowing what your current credit score is will help you work out how likely you are to be accepted by the lender.
Having a good idea about whether or not you’ll be accepted by a lender is always a good idea. This is because being refused for a new credit agreement could damage your credit score.
If you haven’t checked your credit report or score for a while.
It’s worth checking your credit report and credit score from time to time. It’s good to check so you stay on top of whether it’s going up or down and you can take action. It’s also good to check so you can spot any mistakes or fraud.
Checking your own credit score won’t have any negative impact on your overall credit history. But if you’re applying for multiple credit agreements this will come up on your report. With this in mind, it can be worth asking a potential lender to perform a ‘quotation search’ or ‘soft credit check’ when you’re after a quote, particularly if you’re shopping around. This stops multiple hard checks being carried out and logged on your credit file.
An important reason to regularly check your credit score is so you can spot fraudulent activity. If you have any fraudulent activity on your report, it’ll be shown using what’s known as a Cifas marker. Cifas stands for Credit Industry Fraud Avoidance System. And they are a fraud prevention agency.
They can add a marker to your credit file if they think you might have been a victim of some kind of fraud. The marker is there to protect you, and flag if something doesn’t look right. It lets you know if it’s possible you’ve been a victim of fraud. For example, if someone has maybe taken out a credit account in your name.
If you have a Cifas marker, it doesn’t mean you can’t get a mortgage. But it can complicate any application you make for any kind of credit. It means a lender might need to perform more rigorous identity checks.
If you have a Cifas marker, contact Cifas with any questions you have about it.
It’s always worth taking steps to improve your credit score when you’re considering entering a credit agreement.
There’s lots of ways you can improve your credit score if you need to. Some are super simple like making sure you’re on the electoral roll. Others are longer term, like managing your credit in general.
Over 50% of mortgages for people who are self-employed or have bad credit aren’t available directly to you. They’re only available through specialist brokers. Using our platform guarantees you’ll be matched with a broker who has a proven track record of making mortgages possible for people like you. Less processing, more understanding.
Applying for a mortgage or understanding your options shouldn't be confusing, yet there are just so many myths doing the rounds and it's not easy to know where to turn to get the right advice.
Our calculators give you an idea of what you might be able to borrow, what's affordable and a rough estimate of the kind of property prices you can start to look at.