Today I’m going to tell you how you can check your credit file for free and I’m also going to share with you a couple of reasons why it’s super important to check your credit file at least once a year.
If you apply for any form of credit then it’s highly likely that the lender you’re applying to will turn to one of the three main credit reference agencies for some information about you and how you’ve managed credit in the past.
Credit comes in all sorts of different forms – it could be a mortgage, a car loan, a new mobile phone contract or even paying an insurance policy monthly rather than annually.
That’s why it’s so important that you know exactly what a lender is going to find when they check your credit file. You should know what’s on your credit file and have an idea of what your credit score is.
The need to understand your credit file better is the reason why I’ve shared a few posts over the last few months that I hope have addressed some of your credit file concerns. There are so many misconceptions about credit files and credit scores that I really wanted to address some of them and dispel some of the myths.
I’ve linked to the previous posts I’ve written in this credit file concerns series at the bottom of the post.
Why you should check your credit file at least once a year but ideally as often as you can
Most people don’t check their credit file unless they’re considering making an application for credit for one reason or another but if there’s a problem on there that needs sorting then that could take a little while to resolve which could cause big problems for your credit application.
I’ll tell you how to check your credit file for free in a minute but first, I wanted to share a few reasons why you should be checking your credit file:
- You can check what accounts are open in your name and make sure everything on there looks exactly as it should. If there’s anything on there that doesn’t look right then take action to get it sorted as soon as you can.
- Lots of people don’t check their credit file because they don’t know what they’ll find on there and they don’t want to see a poor credit score linked to their name but honestly, in this case, knowledge really is power. Checking your credit file can alert you to potential fraud in your name, errors from companies as well as just giving you an idea what sort of information lenders will see about you if you decide to apply for credit.
- You’ll have a good idea of how an application for credit is going to go so you won’t be surprised by the decision. I was standing behind someone in New Look the other day and she’d been persuaded to apply for a store card, no doubt by the promise of 10% off what looked to be a £13 top. 😉 Her application had been declined and the shop assistant was very loudly calling someone over the phone about it – I would have been mortified! You can’t always know the outcome due to lenders having their own criteria but knowing what’s on your credit file and what your credit score actually is will give you a pretty good idea.
- Knowing your credit score can make you feel accountable for improving it which can only be a good thing, right?
- There are lots of ways you can improve your credit but if you don’t know it needs improving then you’re not likely to be doing any of the things you need to be doing. (Next month’s post will be all about this!)
How to check your credit file for free
An Experian free account lets you access your Experian Credit Score for free which is updated every 30 days when you log in.
(The Experian free account is available to UK residents aged 18 years or over and subject to identity checks.)
I have access to my Experian credit score through my credit card provider which is the main reason I chose to keep that account particular account open as my emergency card.
That gives an indication of what’s going on with my credit file so I just keep a regular check on that usually so I know to get a full copy of my credit score if it goes down at all. Even if it doesn’t change, I do look at my full credit score every six months or so though just to be on the safe side.
If you want to have a good look at your credit file then you can add a CreditExpert paid subscription to your Experian account which will allow you to see your full Experian Credit Report, helping you understand what’s impacting your credit score and how to improve it. It’s also a good way to ensure your information is accurately recorded and up-to-date. It continuously monitors your report, alerting you to certain changes and letting you know about any potential fraudulent activity that it picks up.
There’s a 30 day free trial for the CreditExpert service which makes it ideal for a one-off full check of your credit file. A monthly fee of £14.99 applies after your free trial but you can cancel during your 30-day free trial without charge if you choose not to go ahead with the subscription.
(This offer applies to new customers only and the free trial period starts on registration – further ID verification may be required to access full service.)
So, now you know how to check your credit file for free – go do it! Next month we can talk about how you can improve it but if you don’t know what you’re working with, it’s a bit difficult to make a start.
As promised, here are the previous posts in this series:
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