Credit Reference Agencies keep track of all your credit accounts and allow lenders and service providers to run checks against your credit file before offering you a credit card, loan or other account or service.
When you apply for any of the aforementioned products, you will become the subject of a credit search. Lenders do this by requesting your credit report and score from a credit reference agency. Different companies will be linked with different CRAs, some may even use multiple CRAs to gain data on applicants.
There are three main Credit Reference Agencies in the UK:
Callcredit is an established Credit Reference Agency (CRA) formed in 2000. On their website, Call Credit claim to be the UK’s second largest CRA and employ over 1,300 staff nationwide.
As well as providing financial institutions with customer data, they also operate a separate customer-facing product called Noddle.
Noddle was launched in 2011 and was the UK’s first free of charge online credit checking tool. It allows customers to access their credit file and protect themselves against identity theft for free.
Equifax are the longest serving Credit Reference Agency. They have headquarters in 24 different countries and employ approximately 10,000 staff nationwide.
Much like Callcredit, they offer their services to both business and consumers. As a consumer, you can now get a credit report and score for free using a free trial of their monthly subscription service. Unlike Callcredit’s product, Noddle, you do not get free reports for life, instead you pay £14.95 per month to continue using the service once the free trial has ended. You are free to cancel at any time.
However, you can access your full Equifax credit report data through Clear Score.
Founded in 1996, Experian have quickly become the largest Credit Reference Agency in the world. They operate in 37 countries and employ over 17,000 members of staff.
Not only do they work alongside some of the UK’s leading credit providers, they also now offer a lifetime credit checking service for direct consumers. Similar to Noddle, Experian now allow customers to access their credit report online, for free. They also allow you to gain a statutory credit report for just £2.
You can access your full Experian credit report and score through MoneySavingExperts Credit Club.
Accessing your credit file
With credit reference agencies making it so simple to access your credit report online, we believe it’s a good idea to take advantage of this.
Accessing your credit report gives you a better understanding of your credit history. This gives you a better idea of the credit products you’ll be eligible for and reduces your chances of being declined.
In addition, accessing your report allows you to check for any fraud, mistakes or inaccuracies on your file that could be affecting your credit score.
Occasionally when a lender reports customer payment behaviour to the credit reference agencies, mistakes are made. By identifying these early, you have the opportunity to contact the CRA and/or lender to get the issue rectified.« Back to Glossary Index