Understanding Your Credit File

Knowing your credit file can save you money

Did you know that the average family with a low credit rating spends an extra £1,170 each year on items of credit than those with a good credit rating? This includes mobile phone contracts, utility bills, loans and credit cards. By understanding what’s on your credit file and then improving it, you could end up spending less over a typical month or year. The first step is to start understanding what’s on your file and how it affects the credit you can get.

Knowing your file can help you see a bigger picture, such as what items of credit you have as well as seeing how strong your file actually is. We’ve created three short videos with some of our First Response Finance team who work very closely to customers credit files - you could call them experts! These videos provide some great guidance on how you can improve your credit rating and how to manage your file going forward, which should ultimately save you money long term.

The videos:

Understanding Your Credit File - current
Improving Your Credit File -
watch now
Maintaining Your Credit File - watch now

Finding your information

You can find information on your credit file with the help of credit reference agencies such as: Experian, Equifax and Callcredit UK who, for a small fee, will show you your credit history. You can sign up for a monthly report or buy a one-off report for around £2 from each agency.

Credit files vs. credit ratings

Your credit file is a collection of information about your payment history for the products or credit you have taken out including how well you have managed these payments over time.

Your credit score is a number the agency gives you and can be different depending on which one you are using, but usually the higher the better. Every credit reference agency uses their own individual score. The score is an indication on how well you have been paying as well as any issues you have had, combing these all together to generate a number. For example, if you have missed payments it would lower your credit score. This score will then be assessed when applying for credit with most companies (but not First Response Finance).

Understanding your credit file

What can you see on your credit file?

You can see all of the different credit accounts you’ve had over the last 6 years. Examples of information include:

Accounts

  • Mobile phone contracts
  • Catalogue/online account subscriptions
  • Bank accounts
  • Utility bills

Loans

  • Payday loans
  • Store cards
  • Mortgages
  • Hire Purchases or Personal Contract Purchase

Past or current issues 

  • Missed payments
  • Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs)
  • County Court Judgments (CCJs)
  • Debt arrangements
  • Bankruptcy
  • Debt relief orders

It’s worth noting that not everything you’ve ever had will be known by all of the agencies, as some companies choose who they send this information to. For example, your bank may send your information to Experian but not to Equifax, which means Equifax will have no evidence of you having a bank account. It could also be the other way around and Experian may have no knowledge of a mobile phone contract you’ve had for several years.

In summary

  • You are able to find all the information about your credit that companies can see.
  • Experian, Equifax and Callcredit UK are all great places to start finding out about your credit file.
  • Each one does use a different score though, and will have different information, so be aware that it’s hard to compare them, it’s best to buy 1 or 2 to get a better picture. We recommend purchasing more than one report so you know exactly what companies may be seeing.

It can be surprising the amount of things that show on your credit file sometimes missed payments from years ago could slip your mind. We recommend you’re aware of all of them. If you’re still unsure please watch the video or read the section of “what can you see on your credit file?” section again to fill you in. 

How First Response make decisions

At First Response Finance we don’t look at credit scores. We look at credit files and, in most cases, have a conversation with those applying for a loan. We find that a conversation usually tells us more than any number or report can, and speaking with you allows us to understand financial situations which you otherwise would not be able to explain to a decision made from just your score online. 

More about finance

Watch the next video

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Data from: http://www.som.cranfield.ac.uk/som/n323/poor-credit-scores-cost-uk-families-3.5bn-a-year-