Your credit rating check (also known as your credit score check) is determined by your credit report, which is a comprehensive record of your borrowing history and acts like a financial CV for lenders to consider when you apply for credit.
There are plenty of good reasons why you should check your credit rating – knowing what's in your credit report and what sort of credit rating you have can not only help you better manage your finances, but it can help you get the credit you want. Here we explain ten reasons why you should check your credit rating.
Some websites will advertise their credit checking products with call-to-actions saying "check my credit score now" or "check my credit rating for free" but for a genuine credit check you will need to input your details first, such as your address, your bank details and other personal information.
You can use our free guides to learn more about free credit reports, but you can also take advantage of the 30-day free trial that comes with many paid-for credit reports. Just remember that you will need to cancel before the trial ends if you don't want to be charged the monthly fee.
1. When you check credit rating you get a snapshot of all your outstanding credit - you can see all your credit accounts - your mobile phone, shopping catalogues and gas & electricity bills, as well as credit cards, loans and mortgages. You can see how much you owe in one convenient place, giving you the big picture on your finances - and it's much easier than having to check all your different bills and statements.
2. Running a credit score check can help you to apply for the right credit deals for you. If you know your credit rating and have seen the information lenders use to decide whether to lend to you or not, you can make sure you apply for the credit card, loan or mortgage that's right for your credit profile. Find out more about getting the right credit card for your credit rating.
3. If you don't have a perfect credit history, being familiar with the contents of your credit report can help you to improve your credit rating, by alerting you to problem areas and highlighting any difficulties you are having managing your credit. Find out more about improving your credit score.
4. Your credit report has a handy list of all your lenders and their contact details, which is convenient if you need to get in touch, for example if you're moving house or your circumstances change in any other way.
5. There's also a record of all the addresses you've lived at in the last six years on your credit report, which can be really handy if you're filling in a job application form or if you want to open a new credit account.
6. Your credit report lists every application for credit you've made in the last year, so you can make sure you don't reapply to a lender who you have approached already.
7. You can make sure that lenders haven't misinterpreted a request for information as a full application for credit. Requests for information shouldn't show up on your account, and if these mistakenly show up as applications, it can damage your credit rating, as lenders don't like to see a large number of applications in a short period of time.
8. If you spot any mistakes when you check your credit rating, you can correct them by contacting the relevant lender. You can also add something called a note of explanation if your circumstances caused credit problems, for example if you missed loan repayments because you were ill - but remember that you will need to be prepared to provide proof.
9. You can check your credit rating as many times as you want without it having a damaging effect on your credit record. The checks are only visible to you and the credit reference agency - lenders can't see that you've checked your credit rating and it has no impact on your credit score.
10. Checking your credit rating regularly is recommended by the Home Office to help protect yourself against identity fraud. If you check your credit report regularly, you will be able to pick up on unfamiliar or suspicious applications or accounts and alert the relevant lenders and the authorities to the fraud. Find out more about how your credit report can protect you against identity fraud.
You can check your credit rating for free with a 30-day trial of Credit Expert from Experian.