How To Get A Credit Score For Free
How to Get a Credit Score for Free
There are certain times when it is important to have a good idea of how your financial background will be regarded by potential lenders, for instance, when you are applying for credit and particularly if you are applying for a mortgage. One of the ways that you can find out how attractive or risky you are seen by a potential lender is to view your credit score. From this, you will be able to get a better idea of how a lender perceives you in terms of your potential ability to pay back any loan.
What is a credit score?
Your credit score is the score that credit reference agencies provide you with based on the details within your credit report. Mortgage companies and other credit lenders will use it as a big indicator of whether they will be prepared to lend to you and how much they will lend you. Companies such as Experian, Callcredit and Equifax provide people with their credit
With credit fraud becoming an increasing problem, the ability to be able to regularly check your credit report will help you to act quickly if there is an instance of credit fraud that your lender hasn’t already flagged. In 2018 card and account fraud jumped almost 40% in a year, so you can see how big a concern this is in the current climate. There could potentially be a fraudulent application that you’re unaware of that could be affecting your ability to get credit, so it really is important to regularly check your credit score.
If you are looking to borrow money, particularly for a large amount such as if you are applying for a mortgage, getting your credit score will help you to see how easy it should be for you to get a mortgage offer and the type of deal you will be able to get.
What could affect my credit score?
There are a number of details that will influence how credit reference agencies score you. Experian lists the following as main influences on your credit score with them:
- Being registered on the Electoral Roll
- Having too many credit applications
- Your total amount of credit
- Pay off and close accounts
To start with, it is important that you are registered on the Electoral Roll to be able to have a good credit score. This is because it confirms that you are who you say you are, therefore there is less risk for the lender.
Having too many credit applications will reflect badly on you, as it shows that you are regularly trying to obtain credit and are possibly spending more than you can afford with your level of income. If you have a large amount of credit then this can also negatively impact your credit score.
If you have made any late or missed payments then these will impact your score and paying off then closing accounts rather than keeping them open is seen to be better.
How can I get a free credit score?
You are legally entitled to access your credit report for free from any credit reference agency, although these just include your actual report and will not include a credit score. One way to access your credit score for free is to do a 30-day free trial that they offer for new customers but be careful to cancel before they start to take monthly payments.
Some banks also offer access to your credit score as part of your account package, so that is another way that you could possibly access your score for free. The Money Saving Expert Credit Club also provides members with free access to both your Experian credit report and score, so that is another way to get your credit score without paying a monthly or one-off fee.
What am I looking for on my credit score?
The main area you should look at is your actual credit score but be aware that the scoring system differs between credit reference agencies. For example, Experian scores up to 999 (999 being the best credit score) whilst Equifax scores up to 700. Each credit reference agency will grade you based on their scores, within the following categories:
- Very poor
This will give you a good indication of where your financial situation is at, as if you have a very poor or poor score then lenders will be less likely to lend to you, or you will need to approach lenders that work with people with bad credit history. This will usually mean that you will be paying a higher interest rate, as lenders see you as a bigger risk for paying
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What can I do if the information on my credit score is incorrect?
If you think that there has been a mistake on your credit score then your first course of action should be to contact the company that it relates to and ask them to go through the details with you. It is possible to appeal against an item that has been placed on your credit report that you don’t think should be on there, or if a historical issue has not been removed within the set time (e.g. a CCJ should be removed after six years from the date of judgment).
However, appealing against something on your credit report is rarely easy and may take a lot of your time and effort, often without being rectified if the lender believes that no error has been made.
Will getting my credit score help me to get a mortgage?
Getting your credit score will not directly help you to get a mortgage but it will enable you to assess what sort of financial position you are in before you go to a lender. By obtaining your credit score and reviewing any issues, you can spend a few months trying to improve your score.
If you are not on the Electoral Roll, you can register and then see how this changes your score before you apply for a mortgage. The more positive you are able to get your credit score, the better chance you have of being offered a mortgage and the better deals that you will be able to choose from.
It is always recommended to check your credit score before you think about applying for credit, as making many applications will be negative on your score, making it harder for you to get credit in the future. There are so many different ways to obtain your free credit score that it couldn’t be easier to get your score and decide whether now is the right time to apply for a mortgage.
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There will be a fee for mortgage advice. The actual amount you pay will depend upon your circumstances and loan amount. The fee is up to 1.5%, but a typical fee is 0.67% of the amount borrowed.
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