At a glance, lenders use your credit history report to calculate your credit score (or rating), a numerical value that represents your financial situation.
The credit score also indicates the level of risk in lending to you, and the likelihood you can repay your debt. You can find more below about how your credit status affects your ability to borrow.
What's a credit report?
A credit report contains information about your financial history from the last 6 years. It provides a summary of how well you manage your finances and obligations. Typically it will include:
- Details for your current address and previous addresses, including electoral roll information.
- List of all bank accounts, mortgages and credit cards, and the level of debt and overdrafts.
- All phone contracts and utility bills that may be in your name, and if you have any outstanding payments.
- Your repayment history – this can include missed or late payments.
- Public records of court judgements, bankruptcies, and insolvencies.
- Any financial association you may have to other people or family, such as joint mortgages or bank accounts.
The information on your credit report is gathered from public records and previous credit history information that is shared among lenders.
Lenders can only look at your credit report with your permission, but each search will leave a mark and impact your credit score.
What's a credit score?
A credit score is calculated using the information in a credit history report, as well as information you put on a credit application, and any other information that the lender may have on you already.
For example, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) requires lenders to assess your incomings and outgoings to ensure that you can make your repayments. Lenders do not take gender, religion, race, or ethnicity into account when calculating a credit score.
Lenders use your credit score to determine whether to lend you money, at what rate you'll have to pay it back, and how long you'll have to pay it. The credit score can also influence your insurance monthly payments, property rentals, car financing or mobile phone contracts.
Experian has a scale 0–999, and any score above 881 is considered good or excellent.
The scale for Equifax is 0–700, and TransUnion is 0–710, though their scoring bands differ. For TransUnion the Good or Rating 4 starts at 604, whereas an Equifax score of 420 and above is be deemed Good.
A higher credit score can have positive implications with regard to your credit history: it can make it more likely that you'll be given credit by a lender.
All of the credit reference agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – can provide you with a free basic credit history report as well as a representative credit score.
Since they use different scoring systems and data, their results can vary, and one agency can be more favourable than other. So it's good to check your credit score with all of them and correct any data that is inaccurate, as it can affect your borrowing power.
Credit scoring systems
Author: The AA. Published 6 August 2020. Updated 9 November 2023.