Experian is making its credit score for free for everyone, to coincide with the launch of its CreditMatcher service.
Previously, it was only possible to access your Experian credit score for free by signing up to a 30-day trial of its paid-for subscription service, Credit Expert.
The credit reference agency’s CreditMatcher website is designed to help people shop around to see how they can save money by comparing credit deals based on their financial profile.
How CreditMatcher works
The free service lets customers search for the most appropriate credit cards, loans and mortgages based on their financial situation. It will also show you the likelihood being accepted for these products, so you can make a more informed decision about which one to apply for.
Launching the new site, Experian’s Clive Lawson said the company hoped the move would give people a better understanding of their finances and how credit works.
Recent research from Which? found that 53% of people had never checked their credit report, leaving themselves potentially vulnerable to identity fraud and unable to access the most attractive borrowing deals.
Find out more: Seven credit report myths busted – we separate fact from fiction
What is your credit score?
There is no universal score that lenders use when deciding whether or not to let people borrow. The scores provided by credit reference agencies such as Experian are simply indicators of your creditworthiness, based on the information in your report.
Each lender uses its own criteria when deciding whether or not to approve your application , so you could be rejected for credit by one company but accepted by another – even if they’re both looking at the same version of your credit report.
Experian is not the first company to make credit scores freely available. Noddle, part of credit reference agency Callcredit, introduced free access to credit scores last year. 2015 also saw the launch of Clearscore, which is partnered with Equifax offers free access online and via its smartphone app.
Find out more: Why do I have bad credit? – poor credit ratings explained
How to improve your creditworthiness
There are a number of steps you can take to improve your chances of being accepted for credit and being able to access the best deals.
1. Check your credit report
It is sensible to check your credit report from the three main credit reference agencies – Callcredit, Equifax and Experian – at least once a year to make sure the information it contains is correct. Mistakes can prevent you from accessing the very best deals or even stop you from getting credit at all. You have a legal right to access your statutory credit report for £2.
2. Get on the electoral roll
If you’re not on the electoral roll, you could find it difficult to obtain credit. Your local authority should contact you once a year asking you to confirm who is eligible to vote at your property, but you can register to vote online at any time through the Register to vote website.
3. Think before applying for new credit
Every time you make an application for credit, a mark will be left on your credit file which will be visible to other lenders. Making multiple applications in a short period of time could suggest to lenders that your are experiencing financial difficulty and could make them reluctant to borrow to you.
‘Soft search’ facilities such as the one on the new Experian website will give you an indication of how likely you are to be accepted for credit without leaving a mark on your file, allowing you to shop around before making a full application.
4. Build a good credit history
Show that you a responsible borrower by staying within your credit limit and paying your bill on time.