Check your credit report for free
Grab your file and check your score, or even get PAID to do it
This guide explains how you can check your credit reports for free or even how to get paid to check them. Plus, there's our revolutionary free MoneySavingExpert.com Credit Club which allows you to check your full Experian Credit Report for free.
In this guide
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 credit report. Most of this is explained in detail in our How to Boost Your Credit Rating guide, but below is a quick checklist.
1. Check addresses on old accounts.
2. Fight unfair defaults on your file.
3. If you no longer have joint accounts with someone, ensure you financially delink (ie, separate).
4. Always check your credit reports after rejection. Read why here.
5. Cancel unused credit and store cards. Find out why unused cards can count against you.
If you're doing a specific application for a company and you know which credit reference agency it uses, it's obviously a priority to check that one. But as a general housekeeping rule we suggest you check all three credit reports at least once a year, because they all have an impact.
Don't worry about over-checking your credit report. It's not recorded on it, and it's something that only you and the credit reference agency will know about. Check EVERY detail and do it regularly. PLUS always check before making any big applications to minimise your risk of rejection. It can all be done online, it's quick and easy.
However, if time is short and you can only use one, then choose Experian (the biggest) or CheckMyFile (checks Equifax and Callcredit). It's a good idea to do a check-up roughly every 12 to 18 months. Always do one in good time before making any important applications.
Your right to check your file
The most important thing to tell you is that you have a legal right to check your credit report. This is because it's important you know the information that companies have on you. It used to cost £2, but since the new GDPR law came into effect in May 2018, it's now free. Here's how to check, and how to get paid to do it.
The checks are all done online so they're quick and easy to do (and are much more efficient than the old mail-only method).
The statutory report contains your personal details, info on financial links to other people, whether you're on the electoral roll, the credit accounts you have, any missed payments or defaults, and a list of other recent searches of your credit report (though these only stay on your file for a maximum of one year). All three credit reference agencies will provide you with a statutory report:
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The MSE Credit Club – includes Experian Credit Report
We've launched the ability to get your full Experian Credit Report for FREE within Credit Club. See below for full details on how this will work.
You'll get a free Experian Credit Score. This gives you an indicator of how lenders see you when assessing you for credit applications.
Our unique Affordability Score. This clever tool helps 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 shows your chances of success, 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.
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 all three agencies for free every month – though they'll make money if you apply for credit cards and loans through them.
Which way you choose to check your report 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.
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The three agencies to check
As mentioned above, lenders will use one of three credit reference agencies – Equifax, Experian or TransUnion (formerly 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 is the largest credit reference agency. It's commonly used by lenders, so it's likely to be very comprehensive.
So it's only appropriate that you now have two ways to view your Experian Credit Report for free. You can either sign up to see a monthly report with our Credit Club or you can get it direct from Experian by signing up for its 30-day free trial.
Details: MSE's Credit Club offers for the first time FREE full access to your Experian Credit Report. You'll be able to see details of all credit accounts you have, searches made against your file, financial associations and linked addresses, plus much more. And you won't ever have to pay for it.
How to cancel: It's easy. Just log in to your account, go to 'Settings' then click the big red 'Delete My Account' button. But if you're leaving we'd love to know why – please email us so we can fix any issues.
Pros: Unlike Experian's CreditExpert below, this is free forever. Also, you'll have access to your Experian Credit Score, Affordability Score, Credit Hit Rate and more.
Cons: You only get a once-a-month snapshot of your credit report and we can't send you updates every time something changes.
The service includes your credit report and free credit scores (indicative only – every company scores you differently). You'll also get a full explanation of what each element of your report means as well as access to your last 12 months of reports.
Details: CreditExpert* offers new customers a "free 30-day trial, then £14.99 per month" service, which gives real-time 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: If you keep the service it offers monitoring and real-time access to your credit report.
Cons: You can only do this free trial once, plus it's expensive if you forget to cancel.
The service includes your credit report and free credit scores (indicative only – every company scores you differently). If you want your credit reference file, then just sign up and cancel within the 30 days.
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. 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: You're sometimes directed to certain products on the site, though that doesn't mean they're right for you. Always do your own research about the type of product you need and what's on offer.
Clearscore doesn't need any bank details from you to sign up, other than the name of the bank that your account is with.
It can locate your personal record from your full name, bank name and security questions, so it doesn't ask for any credit card or other account details.
Details: Equifax Credit Report and Score offers a 30-day free trial, then £7.95 a month, so ensure you cancel at least 24 hours before the free 30-day trial is up. You get online access to your credit report, as well as weekly email alerts whenever there are any changes to your account (eg, new searches).
How to cancel: To request cancellation, call 0800 014 2955. You'll need to answer some security questions.
Pros: 30 days' free access to your credit report.
Cons: It's £7.95 a month if you forget to cancel.
When you sign up, a payment card needs authorising. It'll be charged £1 but that is quickly refunded.
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 email@example.com and tell it you wish to cancel the service and de-register 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.
Visit its website, register your details and it will email you back with details on how to see your credit file. You will need a credit or debit card to register with Noddle. Some customers may see a 10p charge on their account shortly after registering – this is just Noddle checking the card's registered to the right person and is valid. The small charge should be instantly refunded.
If you fail to log in at least every three months, membership could expire, as Noddle reserves the right to cancel dormant accounts. It's free to join again if that happens.
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 £14.99 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 £14.99 a month if you forget to cancel.
CheckMyFile has negotiated a deal with Equifax and Callcredit to show you their data in one service. But it misses out Experian, which is the largest of the UK's three main credit reference agencies. CheckMyFile will also show you an indicative credit score based on the data it gets from the two credit reference agencies.
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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.
Currently only Experian feature on cashback sites, but you can often get between £3 and £10 for getting these free trials.
This type of cashback is a great boon, but there can be problems with them, so it's never 100% guaranteed that you'll receive it – don't count it as a bonus until it's safely in your account. But the worst that'll happen is you get your report for free, provided you remember to cancel.