Experian follows TransUnion's move to include buy now, pay later data in customer credit files - here's how it might impact your credit score
Experian will become the second credit reference agency (CRA) after TransUnion to include buy now, pay later (BNPL) data in customer credit files from this summer, MoneySavingExpert.com can reveal. Below we explain how the move may affect your credit file and score.
Update: Friday 4 March 2022: Equifax has since confirmed that it'll follow Experian and TransUnion's lead and will include buy now, pay later data on customer credit files by the end of this year.
TransUnion, one of the UK's three main credit reference agencies, was the first to announce its intention to include customer BNPL data on their credit file last month, and now Experian has confirmed it'll follow suit.
It's expected that the data shared between BNPL firms and credit reference agencies will include a record of successful payments, missed and late payments and how much credit people have across providers. The sharing of this data can have both a positive and negative impact on credit files.
Meanwhile, Equifax, the other big credit reference agency, has yet to announce if and when it will include buy now, pay later data in customer files.
Our Credit Score guide lists 27 tips to boost your credit rating, and your can check your score with our Free Credit Report Checker. For more information on how BNPL works in general, see our Buy Now, Pay Later guide.
Missed payments could become more likely to hurt your credit score
While many BNPL providers reserve the right to report missed payments to the credit reference agencies, it's often used as a last resort. For example, Clearpay and Klarna claim they never report missed or late payments to credit reference agencies.
But, with the news that some agencies will now proactively include BNPL data in credit files, it's more important than ever to ensure you make payments on time and in full, as having a poor credit score can impact your future ability to borrow.
Defaults and missed payments remain on your credit file for up to six years, and will be visible to other lenders when you apply for credit. This will make it more difficult to be approved for mortgages, credit cards, loans and even mobile phone contracts or pay-monthly car and home insurance policies.
Many BNPL lenders are currently unregulated, so don't have to share payment data
Regulated BNPL schemes, such as Monzo Flex and Instalments by Barclays, already report your repayments to the CRAs. Assuming you make payments on time, this could help boost your credit score, whereas not doing so could have an adverse effect.
Yet while regulation is in the pipeline for other BNPL firms, many such as Klarna, Clearpay and Laybuy offer BNPL lending that isn't regulated. Klarna alone has about eight million UK customers, and works with more than 6,500 retailers, while Laybuy works with more than 800 retailers.
The Government has proposed regulation for the BNPL sector, which will - among other things - pave the way for these firms to share more data with the credit reference agencies. Yet, currently the firms choose what data they share about customers' borrowing - if any. Currently, the big players take different views...
Clearpay doesn't currently share borrowing data with the CRA's.
A spokesperson for Clearpay said: “Clearpay recognises that appropriate and proportionate credit checks can add value. However, we do not believe that the current model offers a complete solution to the challenges associated with BNPL and credit reporting. We need to see smarter changes to the credit checking system so that BNPL data can be shared and checked in real time and reflect a consumer’s BNPL history in their credit file in a way that does not negatively impact their credit score.”
|Klarna intends to share most BNPL data with CRA's in the future as it has been helping the agencies prepare their systems for this type of data-sharing. However, currently it doesn't share any data on borrowers.
A spokesperson for Klarna said: “We have been working with the CRAs for more than 18 months so they can update their systems to accept BNPL data to better serve and protect consumers. We will communicate clearly to consumers before making any changes to our products and would like to reassure them that no changes have been made as yet."
Laybuy already shares borrower data with Experian, but the firm is yet to share data with Equifax or TransUnion.
A spokesperson for Laybuy said: “Laybuy is a Consumer Credit Account Information Sharing member, ensuring that the payment performance of our customers is provided to the credit agency in real time.”
Traditional forms of credit still offer better protection than buy now, pay later
BNPL is a form of credit, so it makes sense to consider whether BNPL or a more traditional form of credit, such as a 0% credit card or 0% overdraft, is better for you.
If you choose to borrow through unregulated BNPL firms you'll forfeiting any Section 75 Protection and a right to complain to the Financial Ombudsman. You'll also have a much shorter repayment window than if you were to borrow through a credit card or overdraft.
See our BNPL vs traditional credit comparison to help weigh up which credit type will work best for you.