4 min read

A guide to the credit reference agencies

Lucy Burgess
17 May 2018

We explain what you need to know about the UK's 3 credit reference agencies and why your score might be different with each

Your credit report is compiled by companies known as credit reference agencies (CRAs). There are 3 CRAs in the UK – Experian, Equifax and Callcredit.

These CRAs are the companies that create, and keep hold of your credit reports. They gather information about your credit history, and put this into a credit report and calculate a score for you based on this information. In turn, lenders will ask one or more of these agencies for information about you before accepting your credit application.

ClearScore is not a CRA. We show you your Equifax credit score and report for free.

How do CRAs work?

Each CRA is sent information by lenders about the credit you have and how you manage it. Other information, such as public records like the electoral roll, are also sent to the CRAs and form part of your credit report. Once a CRA has enough information on you, they will generate your credit report and calculate your credit score.

Check your credit score and report for free with ClearScore

Why do you have different credit scores?

Your Experian, Equifax and Callcredit scores may be slightly different because not all lenders report to every CRA. Some lenders only report to one or two CRAs, whereas others will report to all three.

CRAs also have different maximum scores. Experian’s score is out of 999, Callcredit’s is 710 and Equifax, the CRA that we use here at ClearScore use, have 700. They all have different scales, too.

So, your credit score might be 459 with Equifax, 999 with Experian and 609 with Callcredit, even with the same information. This is nothing to worry about — as long as your information is accurate, this won’t affect your creditworthiness.

How do I check my credit report?

To look after your credit score, it’s important to get a full picture of your finances. To do this, you can check in with all three UK credit reference agencies periodically. This is especially true before an important application like a credit card, loan or mortgage.

You’re already in the right place to check your Equifax credit report – ClearScore gives you your full Equifax score and report absolutely free.

Equifax:

  • ClearScore. It’s free and always will be.

  • Equifax’s Credit Report and Score. This service is £7.95 a month, after a 30-day free trial.

Experian:

  • Experian’s free credit score. You can sign up and see your credit score for free, but you won’t have access to your report.

  • CreditExpert. This gives you acess to your full report and score and is £14.99 a month after a 30-day free trial.

  • MSE’s Credit Club. This gives you your Experian score and report for free.

Callcredit:

  • Noddle. Its main site is free. They also have a number of paid add-ons. To see which factors are affecting your report, you can sign up to Noddle Improve, which is £30 a year. It costs £20 per year to sign up for Noodle Alerts, and £20 per year for their Web Watch service.

  • TotallyMoney. This is a completely free service showing your Callcredit data.

  • CheckMyFile. This site shows you your Callcredit and Equifax information, and it costs £14.99 a month after a free 30-day trial.

It’s worth noting that you can get a statutory copy of each report for £2 – for Equifax, Experian and Callcredit. This is a one-off: you have to pay £2 each time you want to see your report. You can choose either an online or a paper copy.

Once you’ve checked in with each credit reference agency, you’ll have a good idea of your overall financial situation and you can fix any mistakes (do this on ClearScore here, and add a notice of correction if anything seems wrong.

It’s best to continue checking your report regularly to look after your score. You can read our cheatsheet on the 4 main things to check each month here.

by Lucy Burgess

Lucy has a background in law. Having spent a considerable amount of time researching personal finance, she's one of our in-house experts. 

ClearScore exists to make your finances simple.
We offer a free service where you can handle everything to do with credit in one place. In your ClearScore account, you can see your credit score and the full details of your credit report. Your credit cards, mortgages, mobile phone contracts, loans, overdrafts and utilities all on the record. Our goal is to make ClearScore as simple, calm and straightforward as possible. Money is stressful enough.