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Amy | Edited by Johanna

Updated August 2016

Checking your credit file is in shape is important if you want to get a mortgage, credit card, loans and more. The big credit reference agencies try to lure you in with free month-long trials - use this to check your file for FREE, then cancel to avoid the subscription fee.

This guide explains how you can check your statutory files for just £2, how to check your credit files for free or even how to get paid to check your credit file PLUS we’ve launched our revolutionary, new, free MoneySavingExpert.com Credit Club which gives you a free Experian Credit Score and explains what it means in the real world.

Why you should check and what you should check

There are three credit reference agencies, Equifax, Experian and CallCredit, and they all hold information on you which lenders use. Even small errors can cause problems, so it's important you check through your file. Most of this is explained in detail in our How to Boost Your Credit Rating guide, but below is a quick checklist.

Your right to check your file (costs £2)

The most important thing to tell you is that you have a legal right to check your credit file. This is because it’s important you know the information that companies have on you. Here’s how to check your file, however before you read it please see our information on how to check for free and how to get paid to do it.

New. The MSE Credit Club

MSE’s Credit Club

We've launched our revolutionary, new, free MoneySavingExpert.com Credit Club - a brand new way to keep a track of your credit record. You can sign up here and please give us feedback on it. Here are the five things it does:

  • You'll get a free Experian Credit Score. This will give you an indicator of how lenders see you when assessing you for credit applications.
  • Our unique affordability score. This clever tool will help you work out how much you can afford to borrow, using calculations based on your income and estimated spending.
  • Our unique Credit Hit Rate - this will show you your chances of success, expressed as a percentage, of grabbing our top cards and loans.
  • Eligibility tool to show your best credit deals. It reveals the likelihood of you getting top credit cards or loans.
  • Your credit profile explained. It shows the key factors affecting your score and how to improve them.

While it's launched, there's a lot more to come - our new Credit Club doesn't yet show your full credit file - but we'll be adding this soon and will let you know when in our weekly email.

How to check your full credit report for FREE

Credit score checks for free

Our Credit Club (above) has a whole host of unique tools to help you manage your credit profile but doesn’t yet give access to your entire credit report, though it soon will. If you want the full shebang now, sign up to one of the trials or try the services below.

Credit reference agencies used to make all their money from selling data to lenders. The idea was to help lenders predict your behaviour, which allowed them to assess whether or not you were a good person to lend to.

Then some bright spark at the credit reference agencies realised they could generate a business called "consumer credit management". It meant they could start to sell you monitoring products and all the other sorts of data, including your "credit score", for the first time. You may ask why they sell it to you? Well, it makes them money, and sometimes up to £180 a year.

It used to be that the only way you could check your score for free was to sign up to 30-day free trials of these services, and then cancel before the time's up so you don't get charged. Yet, now, you can check your report on two of the three agencies for free every month - though they'll try and sell credit cards and loans to you instead to make their cash.

Which way you choose to check your file will depend on what's most important to you - a full monitoring service free for 30 days, or a more basic, but free-for-life service. Here's how to do it, broken down by agency.

The three agencies to check

As mentioned above, lenders will use one of three credit reference agencies - Equifax, Experian or Callcredit. If possible, check all of them, as not all providers use the same agencies; see below for how to check them for free.

Experian

Experian is the largest credit reference agency. The only way to see your Experian report for free is to sign up for its 30-day free trial.

Experian's CreditExpert* - Free trial of largest credit agency

Details: CreditExpert* offers new customers a "free 30-day trial, then £14.99 per month" service, which gives online access to your credit report and score, plus email alerts when anything changes on your report.

How to cancel: It's very easy. Just call the freephone number 0800 561 0083 (may not be free from mobiles).

  • Pros: It's commonly used by lenders, so it's likely to be very comprehensive.

  • Cons: You can only do this free trial once, plus it's expensive if you forget to cancel.

Click for full details

Equifax

There's two ways to see your Equifax file. One provides free monthly reports, the other is a 30-day free trial of Equifax's full credit report and credit monitoring service.

NEW Clearscore* - Free access to your monthly Equifax credit report

Details: Clearscore* provides free Equifax (the second biggest credit agency) scores and reports, updated once a month (note, Equifax and Clearscore are not the same company). It's not part of a free trial, and aims to give you your credit report free for life, but it will offer you credit cards and loans that you've 'matched' with. It gets commission on any you take out, though you're under no obligation to do so

We haven't got much feedback on it yet, but as it's free you may as well give it a go. Let us know how you get on.

How to cancel: Go to your ‘my account’ page, and click on ‘delete my account’, you'll be sent an email to confirm your cancellation request has been processed.

  • Pros: You can get your Equifax report free every month, not just for 30 days like the free trial below.

  • Cons: The website is new and its full functionality isn't yet complete.

Click for full details

Equifax's Credit Report* - Free 30-day trial of the UK's 2nd biggest credit agency

Details: Equifax Credit Report* offers a 30-day free trial, then £14.95 a month, so ensure you cancel at least 24 hours before the free 30-day trial is up. You get online access to both your credit report, and your Equifax credit score, as well as email alerts whenever there's any changes to your account (e.g. new searches).

How to cancel: To request cancellation, call 0800 090 2219. You'll need to answer some security questions.

  • Pros: 30 days' free access to your credit file.

  • Cons: It's £14.95 a month if you forget to cancel.

Click for full details

Callcredit

Callcredit is the UK's newest credit reference agency, though it tends to not be as widely used as the two massive agencies above. However, you can get free access at any time to your Callcredit report and score.

Callcredit's Noddle - Completely FREE for life

Details: Callcredit provides free-for-life monthly reports through its Noddle service, however, it's not as widely used by lenders as the other two agencies above. If you use Noddle, it will offer you credit cards and loans that you qualify for, though you don't have to apply for anything to continue using the free report service.

How to cancel: Email contact@noddle.co.uk and tell it you wish to cancel the service and deregister from the Noddle site.

  • Pros: It's completely free for life, not just for 30 days.

  • Cons: It may not be as comprehensive as the others. The site has adverts trying to persuade you to sign up for premium credit scoring services. You will NOT have to sign up to this to check your score.

Click for full details

Equifax and Callcredit

Checkmyfile gives you a 30-day trial to see both your Callcredit and Equifax reports in one place. It's really only for those who want the monitoring, as a combination of Clearscore and Noddle will provide monthly snapshots of these two agencies for free.

CheckMyFile - Free 30 days trial gives all the info from Callcredit & Equifax

Details: CheckMyFile allows you to check all the information Callcredit and Equifax hold on you for one subscription. You get a free 30-day trial, then it's £9.99 a month if you want to keep the service.

How to cancel: Call 01872 308637 and tell it you want to cancel your free trial. Alternatively, you can use the secure messaging section of your online account to cancel.

  • Pros: Allows you to see both Callcredit and Equifax credit files and scores for just one subscription.

  • Cons: Doesn't include Experian's data. Costs £9.99 a month if you forget to cancel.

Click for full details

How to get paid to check your file

To get paid to check your file you'll need to sign up via a special cashback website, which pays you a set amount when you click through from it. As we explain above, it's all about signing up then cancelling the free trial so you don't get charged after the trial has ended.

Only Experian and Equifax usually feature on cashback sites, but you can often get between £5 and £10 for getting these free trials.