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Credit Report vs. Credit Score


Credit Report vs. Credit Score

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Whether you are aware or not, your credit score affects your financial life. The first step to improving your credit score is understanding the ins and outs of your credit report.

In the UK there are three Credit Reference Agencies (CRAs) – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion (formerly CallCredit). CRAs are companies which gather information about an individual’s credit history. The info gathered is then compiled into a “credit report” and each individual is given a “credit score” determined by the report’s findings. When a lender – e.g. bank or credit union – is considering your credit application, they will contact these agencies for your credit information before making a decision.

While your credit report and credit score both provide an insight into how you have handled credit in the past, there are key differences between the two terms.

What is a credit report?

Think of your credit report as a record of your borrowing history. The financial technology company ClearScore compares your credit report to the report card you received in school; instead of information about your academic performance however, it contains information about how you have borrowed money and paid it back.

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What is in your credit report?

Your credit report is divided into three sections:

  • Personal Information

This section contains your name, date of birth, address history, and whether you are on the electoral register.

It can also contain public record information such as County Court Judgements, house repossessions, bankruptcies, and individual voluntary arrangements. These stay on your report for at least 6 years.

  • Credit Account History

This section lists all your credit and current accounts (these will show £0 unless you’ve taken out an overdraft)

It will list all your credit cards, as well as short-term loans and long-term loans – e.g. mortgage.

It may include less obvious information such as utilities providers, internet service providers (ISPs), mobile phone networks (Whether this info shows on your credit report depends on the individual provider).

  • Payment History

This section of your credit report will show your history of repayment – e.g. whether you’ve paid your debts on time each month, made a late payment, or even missed a payment entirely.

What is not included in your credit report?

Your credit report will not include the following information:

  • Salary (lenders may ask for this info during the application process to access your affordability)
  • Sexual orientation
  • Criminal records
  • Gender
  • Council tax payments
  • Student loans
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What is a credit score?

If your credit report is compared to your school report, think of your credit score like your overall result or grade. Your credit score sums up how likely you are to be accepted for credit – and how advantageous your credit terms are likely to be – based on the information in your credit report. While your credit report is a detailed record of all your financial behaviour, a credit score is a number which sums up the info in your credit report.

What is a “good” credit score?

Generally, the higher your credit score is, the better. Having a high credit score demonstrates to lenders that you are reliable; this increases the likelihood that your application for credit will be accepted.

It is important to note that there is no universal credit score in the UK – the three main credit reference agencies score differently. This means that all of us have 3 credit scores – and the score you get may vary depending on where you look.

For example, Experian’s score is out of 999, Equifax’s is 700, and TransUnion (CallCredit) is 609. It is nothing to worry about if your score is different depending on where you look, as long as the information you provide is accurate e.g. personal address.

Remember: your credit score doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be approved for credit or offered the lowest interest rates. This is because a lender’s decision is not based solely on your score. For example, lenders also take into consideration the information you provided in your application, their past relationship with you, and other factors like your income are important too.

What is your credit report used for?

Your credit report is a record of your borrowing history. It includes your personal details and list of your previous and current debts. It also documents your repayment history – whether you’ve always paid your debts on time or missed payments.

Your credit score is a 3-digit-number which summarises the information in your credit report. The higher the number, the more reliable you are viewed by lenders. A lower number may make it more difficult for you to obtain credit.

Your credit score does not guarantee that your application for credit will be successful. Individual credit providers such as the ones found here often score you based on their own criteria including your past relationship with them.

For professional advice regarding your finances, please do not hesitate to contact one of Creditfix friendly advisers on 0800 0431 431.

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