From today, Barclaycard's 10.5 million customers can access their credit scores for free via Experian, while Tesco Bank customers with its Foundation credit card can do the same from this week via reference agency Noddle.

A credit score is a measure you can use to get an idea of how your finances stack up and to give you an indication of how likely providers are to lend to you.

However, they aren't the be-all and end-all; when you apply for credit, lenders check their own files to see if they have any records on you, and they'll then contact one or more credit reference agencies to view your credit history only, not your credit score.

There are sometimes ways to access your credit report for free and you can even get paid to see it. See our Credit Report Tricks for how to check your credit score and get paid, plus you can also read our Credit Scores and What Your Credit Score Really Means guides to find out more about how these work.

However, two banks have this week launched schemes offering their customers free access. Here's what's happening:

Martin Lewis
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I'm a Barclaycard customer. What can I get?

From today, all new and existing Barclaycard customers can log in to their online Barclaycard credit accounts to view their Experian credit scores for free. If you've not got an online account, you'll need to register for one first, either online or by calling 0333 200 9090.

Users of the Barclaycard mobile app will also be able to use it to access their scores "from early next year".

Once logged in, you can access your score as many times as you like, with the information updated every 60 days. Both Experian and Barclaycard say there's no time-limit on the offer as it's an "ongoing partnership".

However, access is limited to just your Experian score; you won't be able to view any of your wider report, such as credit accounts, outstanding balances, and crucially, what's affecting your credit score.

It's difficult to calculate the value of this new service, as Experian says it doesn't sell this separately. However, Experian membership including full access to your report currently costs £14.99 per month.

Experian, the largest of the credit reference agencies, says it's not currently working with any other lenders in this way.

Barclaycard and Tesco Bank customers given free access to credit scores
Barclaycard and Tesco Bank customers given free access to credit scores

I'm a Tesco Bank customer. What can I get?

Separately, Tesco Bank this week announced that its tens of thousands of existing Foundation credit card customers will get free access for three years to their credit reports via Noddle, which is part of Callcredit, plus alerts every time there are any changes to them. And new customers can get the deal from 11 December onwards.

Tesco Bank says customers will be sent an email invitation to create a Noddle account, which also includes instructions on how to upgrade accounts to get the free alerts if you've already signed up to Noddle.

The three years' membership starts from the date you set up or upgrade a Noddle account. However, this offer is only available to Foundation customers, as Tesco Bank says the card is aimed at those with limited credit experience.

It's already free to see your credit report via Noddle, but Tesco Bank says the bespoke 'Noddle improve and alert' service it's offering is worth £50/year. Tesco has confirmed you won't automatically be charged this at the end of the three-year period.

Noddle says it is in "various discussions" regarding teaming up with other providers to offer similar schemes, although it wouldn't tell us any details, saying it is "not currently in a position to reveal future partnerships".

Equifax, the other major credit reference agency, says it has "a number of partnerships in progress", but again adds the details are "currently confidential".

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