how to check your credit report for free

How to check your credit report for free

Grab your file and check your score for free

Checking your credit report is in good shape is important if you want to get a mortgage, credit card, loan and much more. The big credit reference agencies try to lure you in with free month-long trials followed by paid subscriptions, but there's no real need to pay at all. Here's how to check your credit report for free, plus how MSE's Credit Club works.

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Why and what you should check

There are three credit reference agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, and they all hold information on you which lenders use. Even small errors can cause problems, so it's important you check through your credit report. Most of this is explained in detail in our How to Boost Your Credit Scores guide, but below is a quick checklist:

Should I check all three credit reports?

If you're doing a specific application for a company and you know which credit reference agency it uses, it's obviously a priority to check that one. But as a general housekeeping rule we suggest you check all three credit reports at least once a year, because they all have an impact.

Don't worry about over-checking your credit report. Your checks aren't recorded on the report, and it's something that only you and the credit reference agency will know about. Check EVERY detail and do it regularly. PLUS always check before making any big applications to minimise your risk of rejection. 

However, if time is short and you can only use one, choose Experian (the biggest) or use CheckMyFile's free trial to check all three.

Before you start – credit agencies offer a free 'statutory' report

In the first instance, it's useful to know that Experian, Equifax and TransUnion each offer a free basic report, known as a statutory credit report. This includes basic info about you, such as:

  • Financial links to other people. 
  • Whether you're on the electoral roll.
  • Any credit accounts you have. 
  • Missed payments or defaults. 
  • Recent searches of your credit report (these only stay on your file for max one year).

However, the statutory credit report doesn't contain your 'credit score', monitoring services and other sorts of data normally provided by your FULL credit report. We've got more info on how to check your full credit report below.

You have a legal right to check your statutory credit report. It used to cost £2, but it's been free since 2018. Checks for the statutory credit report are all done online so they're quick and easy to do (and are much more efficient than the old mail-only method, though you can still get a paper version if you wish).

How to check your full credit report for FREE

credit reference agencies

It used to be that the only way you could check your full report for free was to sign up to 30-day free trials with the credit agencies, and then cancel before the time's up so you don't get charged. Yet now there is more choice out there.

Which way you choose to check your report will depend on what's most important to you – a full bells and whistles credit-monitoring service free for 30 days, or a more basic, but free-for-life service.

Here's how to do it, broken down by agency:

Experian

Experian is the largest credit reference agency. It's commonly used by lenders, so it's likely to be very comprehensive. Here's how to view your Experian credit report for free:

MSE credit club

MSE Credit Club – free access to your monthly Experian Credit Report

What you get: MSE's Credit Club offers full access to your Experian credit report and credit score for free. Your report updates each month, and you'll be able to see details of all credit accounts you have, searches made against your file, financial associations and linked addresses, plus much more. You'll be able to access your last 12 months of credit reports, and you won't ever have to pay for it.

How to cancel: It's easy. Just log in to your account, go to 'Settings' then click the big red 'Delete My Account' button. But if you're leaving we'd love to know why – please email us so we can fix any issues.

  • Credit Club also includes the following features:

    • Our Affordability Score. This clever tool helps you work out how much you can afford to borrow, using calculations based on your income and estimated spending.
    • Our Credit Hit Rate. This shows your chances of success, as a percentage, of grabbing our top cards and loans.
    • Eligibility tool. It reveals the likelihood of you getting top credit cards or loans (the other two credit agencies have similar eligibility checkers).
    • Your credit profile explained. It shows the key factors affecting your score and how to improve them.

Or alternatively...

Experian's CreditExpert – free 30-day trial*. CreditExpert offers new customers a "free 30-day trial, then £14.99 a month" service. It's different from MSE's Credit Club in that it gives you real-time access to your credit report (as opposed to information that's updated monthly). It also offers an eligibility checker. You can only do the free-trial once. To cancel your subscription, log into your account and go to 'My Subscriptions'.

Experian's Credit Score – free subscription to your score. If you don't want to pay a subscription to see your credit report, you can sign up for free to see your Experian Credit Score. You won't have to pay anything, but the information is limited to seeing your credit score, as opposed to credit report. The score updates every 30 days.

Equifax

Although not used by quite as many lenders as Experian, it's still important to check your report from credit reference agency as it may have slightly different details or accounts. Here's how to view your Equifax credit report for free:

Clearscore

Clearscore* – free access to your monthly Equifax Credit Report

What you get: Clearscore* provides free Equifax credit scores and reports, updated once a month, and also has an eligibility checker. Clearscore's services are free for life.

Clearscore sometimes needs basic details about which bank you're with in order for you to sign up. For instance, Clearscore might ask you to confirm the first two digits of your banking sort code and last six digits of your account number. These details are only used to match you to your credit report and are not saved.

How to cancel: Go to your 'My Account' page, and click on 'Delete My Account', you'll be sent an email to confirm your cancellation request has been processed.

Or alternatively...

Equifax's Credit Report and Score – free 30-day trial. Equifax offers a 30-day free trial, then £7.95 a month. The paid-for service gives you access to your real-time credit report as well as weekly email alerts whenever there are changes to your account, like a new search. To avoid being charged, you'll need to cancel your subscription at least 24 hours before the free trial is up. You can do this by going through 'My Account' and then 'Product Management' – alternatively you can cancel by calling 0800 014 2955. 

TransUnion

TransUnion is the UK's newest credit reference agency, though it tends to not be as widely used as the two agencies above. Here's how to view your TransUnion credit report for free:

Credit Karma

Credit Karma – free access to your TransUnion report

What you get: You can access your TransUnion credit report and score through Credit Karma, which never charges. Your credit report information will be updated every seven days, and there's also an eligibility checker.

You can apply online or via Credit Karma's app, just enter your details and you'll receive an email with an activation link – make sure you click it within 24 hours otherwise you might need to sign up again.

How to cancel: You'll need to log into your account, then go through 'Profile & Settings', 'My Profile' and click 'Close my account'.

Or alternatively...

Credit Monitor – free access to your TransUnion report. An alternative to Credit Karma is Credit Monitor, powered by MoneySupermarket, which also offers completely free access to your TransUnion credit report and score. The main difference is that Credit Monitor updates your details every month, whereas Credit Karma updates your score weekly.

How to check all three in one go 

CheckMyFile gives you a 30-day trial to see your Experian, TransUnion and Equifax reports in one place. After that, it's £14.99 a month. It's really only for those who want the monitoring, as a combination of Clearscore, Credit Karma and Experian will provide monthly snapshots of these three agencies for free.

To cancel, either call 0800 086 9360 or log into your account, then click through 'Expert Help', 'I need help with my account' and then 'I'd like to stop my subscription'. 

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