What’s the difference between a credit score and a credit report?

Take a look at credit scores and credit reports in a bit more detail

They both show how you handle credit, but one’s a grade that’s shown as a numerical figure and the credit report is a summary of how you’ve been handling credit. Let’s take a look at credit scores and credit reports in a bit more detail.

Credit score

A credit score is a number calculated by loan providers and is used when they need to decide if they can offer a loan to a potential customer. Your score is calculated using a number of factors, and scores may differ from lender to lender. Typically, a credit score will be somewhere between 0 and 700 and fall into one of the following bands:

Band:          Score:

Very poor – 0-279

Poor – 280-379

Fair – 380-419

Good – 420-465

Excellent – 466+

There are three main Credit Reference Agencies (CRAs) and they all have different maximum scores. A good credit score with:

  • Callcredit is 4 out of 5
  • Equifax is over 420 out of 700
  • Experian is over 880 out of 999.

It’s also worth noting that the bands are just a guide. So, on the one hand, people with a fairly low score can often still receive credit and on the other hand, people with an excellent score may be turned down.

Factors considered in the score may include your payment history, the length of your credit history (including the age of your oldest account and the average age of all your accounts) and the types of credit in use, including mortgage, credit cards, store cards and any other loans.

People with a higher credit score are generally assumed to be lower risk for lending. However, your credit score will change throughout your life. Things like missing a mortgage, credit card or utility payment will see your rating fall.

There are several ways you can easily improve your credit score:

  1. Make sure you’re on the electoral register 
  2. Cancel any credit cards you no longer use
  3. Try not to use up too much of your available credit, preferably stay 30% below each of your limits
  4. Never go over your credit limit or overdraft limit
  5. Make sure you have your name on some bills – especially utility bills or council tax
  6. Pay bills on time – never miss them
  7. Get copies of your credit reports from the three main Credit Reference Agencies (see further below) and request that any mistakes are fixed
  8. Try not to apply for lots of credit in a short period of time
  9. Whenever possible, make more than the minimum payment for credit card balances
  10. Try not to move home a lot

You can find out more about how to improve your rating in our credit rating guide.

Credit report

Your credit report contains details on your personal credit history, including mortgages, loans, credit cards, overdrafts and mobile phone contracts.

The credit report also includes your personal details such as name, date of birth and address, a note of any bankruptcies or defaults on payments and any financial links you have to other people, e.g. if you have a joint mortgage.

A credit report enables lenders to understand your financial habits and see how responsible you are. It will reveal:

  1. How much debt you’ve accumulated, including through loans, credit /store cards and your mortgage
  2. The debts you’ve already repaid
  3. Your long and short-term debt
  4. When you’ve gone over your credit limit

A credit report also lists all the recent lenders who’ve looked at your credit report and it will have a negative affect if you make lots of applications for credit within a short time. They know all this information because whenever you apply for a credit card, loan, or any other type of finance, the company you apply to will usually request a copy of your credit report from one of the three credit reporting agencies:

  1. TransUnion (formerly Callcredit)
  2. Equifax
  3. Experian

All these credit agencies have a statutory obligation to provide you with your credit report for £2, which you can access online or by asking for a written copy. Check with each agency for details on how to get your report.

By checking your report, you can make sure that all the details are correct.

As part of your credit score is pulled from the credit report, it’s worth taking a look at your report every so often, especially before you look to apply for a loan or mortgage.

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