Free Credit Report guides

My credit report: an introduction

Many people use terms such as “credit data”, “credit file”, “credit report”, and “credit score” interchangeably. While in context most would understand what you mean, they do all mean different things. We’ve prepared this guide to clear up the confusion.

What is my credit report?

Before we get into what a credit report is, it’s useful to know the difference between the different credit terms.

It starts with your credit file, which contains all your credit data. Lenders or organisations where a credit agreement is in place (a mobile phone contract, for example) pass your credit data on to the three credit reference agencies: Callcredit, Experian, and Equifax. They are the only three sources of credit data, but lenders might not report to all three.

Callcredit, Experian, and Equifax then interpret this data to create your credit report in a way that’s easy for the average person to digest. Other organisations (such as TotallyMoney) may have agreements with one or more of the credit reference agencies to assess your existing credit data, so they can produce their own version of a credit report.

Wherever you get your credit report, it will be the company’s unique interpretation of the data they’ve assessed. It’s important you check your credit report from all three data sources (Callcredit, Experian, and Equifax), as lenders might not report to them all. Checking all three will give you the most accurate idea of your financial situation.

As well as the report, the company will often give you a credit score: one number that reflects your credit file’s health. There is no universal credit score; to get the most accurate picture, you need to check your score from all three credit reference agencies.

For more information about credit scores, read our guide: ‘Your credit score range explained’.

What’s on my credit report?

Each organisation will interpret credit data in their own way. This means that what you see will vary, depending on what the company decides to put in your credit report.

However, you’ll see the following on your Free Credit Report from TotallyMoney.

Your credit overview

This gives an overview of any recent credit activity, such as any new credit accounts you’ve opened.

Your credit score

This is one number out of 710, which gives an idea of your credit file’s health. Keep in mind that there’s no universal credit score, and your score will vary depending on who provides it.

Remember, some credit score providers will only give you your score for free. To access your more detailed credit report, there’s often a fee.

Your credit report with TotallyMoney, on the other hand, is completely free — and you don’t have to give any card details.

Your Borrowing Power

Borrowing Power is unique to TotallyMoney. It’s one number to show how likely you are to get the credit you’re looking for.

The higher your Borrowing Power, the better the card and loan offers you’re likely to get. We use it to personalise your best available offers, and comes as standard with your TotallyMoney account.

Your credit accounts

Your credit report will show your credit accounts — that is, the name and details of any credit you’ve taken out. This includes credit accounts for loans, mortgages, credit cards, overdrafts, finance agreements, mobile phone contracts, and utility bills.

For each account listed, you’ll see the credit limit, what the current balance is, and whether you’re up to date with your payments.

You’ll also see your last six years of closed credit accounts: credit arrangements you’ve taken out in the past that are no longer open or that you’ve paid off.

Your profile

This includes information like your name, date of birth, address and address history, financial links to others, and whether you’re on the electoral register.

It’s important this information is correct to get the most accurate picture of your financial health. If something’s not right, we’ve made it easy to request changes — straight from your Free Credit Report.

Your credit searches

Your credit report shows any soft and hard searches on your credit file. All well and good, you might say, but what does this mean?

Soft searches are where lenders and other financial organisations look at a small amount of information in your credit file to get an idea of your creditworthiness.

For example, a soft search will be carried out on your credit file if you check your eligibility for a credit product — such as a credit card or loan — or whenever you check your credit score (to give you up the most up-to-date view of your financial health).

Soft searches aren’t visible to lenders and they won’t harm your credit rating.

Hard searches, on the other hand, are different. A hard search is carried out on your credit file whenever you apply for a credit product or credit arrangement.

The lender or financial organisation will take a full look at your credit file to decide whether you’re a trustworthy and reliable applicant. Unlike soft searches, hard searches are visible to lenders — and it’s best not to have too many appear on your credit report in a short space of time.

This is because lenders might think you’re eager for credit and are struggling with your finances, which puts them off.

It’s important, however, to check the searches on your credit file regularly. If there are any on there you don’t recognise, it could be that someone has applied for credit in your name. Sign up for your Free Credit Report to check.

Your legal rulings

If you’ve had legal action brought against you due to managing your credit poorly, the rulings will show on your credit report.

This includes any public information, bankruptcies, insolvencies, and County Court Judgments (CCJs).

Why should I get my credit report?

Your credit report puts you at the centre of your credit data, allowing you to make smarter borrowing decisions. It’s the first step towards taking control of your financial health.

It’s also a good way to check that the information credit reference agencies have on you is correct, and that no one else is applying for credit under your name.

How much is my credit report?

Your credit report from TotallyMoney is completely free. No costs, no card details needed — and no dodgy subscriptions. Signing up for your Free Credit Report only takes a couple of minutes.

Be aware that not all credit report services are free, and you might have to pay to see your report in full detail from other providers.

How do I get my credit report?

You can get your Free Credit Report from TotallyMoney in just a couple of minutes. It won’t harm your credit rating and we don’t need any card details.

Callcredit is the credit reference agency that provide us with the data to build your credit report. However, for the most accurate picture of your financial situation, it’s best to check your credit report from Experian and Equifax, too.

You can see your credit report with Experian and Equifax by signing up for a free trial. Keep in mind, however, that these trials often need card details, and you’ll have to pay once it ends. Remember to cancel your subscription to avoid being charged.

To learn more about credit reports, read our guide: ‘What is a credit report?