Ask the Expert: What’s the difference between a credit score and a credit report?
Our Ask the Expert financial FAQ series continues with Loan.co.uk CEO Paul McGerrigan discussing areas of personal finance.
Q: What’s the difference between a credit score and a credit report?
A: While they both show how you handle credit, one is a simple numerical figure, while the other is a summary report.
I once heard of the difference being described as a school essay: the credit score is the grade you get on the essay, and the credit report is the content of the essay that results in the grade you achieved. This is a very simple way of putting it, but I feel it sums up the difference.
Let’s take a look at the credit score and credit report in a bit more detail.
A credit score is a number calculated by lenders when deciding whether or not to give a loan to a potential borrower. Your score is calculated using a number of factors, and scores may differ from lender to lender. 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 or credit card payment will see your rating fall.
There are several ways you can improve your credit score, with these being as simple as making sure you’re on the Electoral Register and cancelling any credit cards you no longer use. You can find out more about how to improve your rating in our credit rating guide.
Your credit report contains details on your personal credit history, including mortgages, loans, credit cards, overdrafts and mobile phone contracts.
Your credit report also contains 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.
The report also notes a list of all recent lenders who have looked at your credit report. How do they know this information? Whenever you apply for a credit card, loan, or any other type of finance, the company you apply with will usually request a copy of your credit report from one of the three credit reporting agencies: Callcredit, Equifax and Experian.
All three 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 each of the agencies websites 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 is worth your while to take a look at your report every so often, especially before you look to apply for a loan or mortgage.