At some point in one’s life, there comes a time when things such as your credit score need to be taken more seriously. After all, it is either the lever or the hammer to your financial capacity as you and your needs take a mature turn. From your accommodation to your utilities and even your consumables are all affected by your credit score.
Due to this, you should have regular and thorough access to your current credit score. You should know its history as well as how you can make it work to help you with your present and future. In order to do that, many people in the UK choose to take the top credit monitoring services available in the country. While you can do the monitoring yourself, there are additional benefits to letting the professionals help you out with it.
However, there are a myriad of credit monitoring services in the market nowadays. You might end up intimated when you start searching for the one to work with.
To help you further, we have reviewed them and came up with this list of the best UK credit monitoring services.
- Also check out our roundup of the best identity theft protection
One of the leaders in credit report services both in the UK and globally is Experian. This consumer credit-reporting company is Dublin-based but operates across 37 countries. It was established in 1968 in the US and bought in 1996 by The Great Universal Stores (GUS). Based in Manchester, GUS is a retail business company serving customers who pay for their goods on a credit basis.
There are three options from Experian. The first one is completely cost-free and gives you your credit score monthly or every 30 days. The CreditExpert package, costing £14.99/mo, includes a daily update on your credit score, a credit report that details your credit history for the last six years, notification via email and/or SMS for any changes in your credit report. In addition, the plan also includes a web monitoring service that regularly scans the web for any fraudulent use of your personal details. It also assists fraud victims by contacting lenders on your behalf to make sure that the credit record gets fixed.
The Identity Plus plan (£6.99) focuses specifically on shielding users against fraud, with less of a focus on improving credit scores.
Another good thing about Experian is how quick and simple it is to sign up for the service. Only very basic information is required like your name, address, and birthdate along with a few financial ones like your current bank for the purpose of locating your credit score.
One of its best offers is the Credit Score Builder tool. It gives out advice on what you can do to improve your credit score. An example is registering on the electoral roll. It further shows how your credit score can improve in time. Experian Boost is a free tool that factors payments to savings accounts, council tax payments and digital entertainment subscriptions into your Experian credit report.
In addition to the alerts for use of your personal information anywhere, the service also has a specific line dedicated to serving customers with concerns on fraud and identity theft.
The scoring system with Experian has a maximum of 999, which is rated as Excellent. The ratings go from Very Poor to Excellent with Poor, Fair, and Good in between. Both the app and website versions of the service are easy to understand and use. The service provides a more thorough explanation of your credit report as well as the other credit score services it provides. It even furnishes mock reports to help you understand each of its sections.
Another big name in consumer credit reporting is Equifax. Based in Georgia, USA, it is a part of the Big Three in the industry and operates across 24 countries worldwide including the UK. It was founded in 1899 and became one of the major credit bureaus in the country in the 1960s.
Equifax offers one type of account only, which provides access to your credit score along with a free credit report. It also notifies you whenever your credit report undergoes any meaningful changes, both positive and negative ones. It also comes with the identity protection feature that alerts you of any instances when your financial and personal information appears on fraudulent websites.
The credit reports from Equifax follow the same format as Experian and are easy to comprehend. They are quite detailed, so determining a specific late credit card bill payment, for example, is a hassle-free process for lenders. Any debts to collection agencies and liens against your assets are also indicated in the report.
With Equifax, your credit score can fall anywhere between 280 to 850. It uses the same criteria that FICO uses when calculating a credit score, so a high Equifax credit score usually means a high FICO score. Lenders, however, generally take a look at all three credit bureaus and not Equifax alone. However, an Equifax higher score enables you to get easier and faster loan approvals with Equifax-prioritizing lenders.
Since the service is pretty basic compared to its competition, you can easily justify the low cost. More so, Equifax does not have any mobile applications, limiting your ability to check your credit score anytime you like to. It is also quite a disadvantage that a paid account is your only option if you wish to use their service on a long-term basis.
Signing up with the service is a bit of a hassle because of some technical glitches that can occur. Their customer service is also reported to not be the best in dealing with potential and new customers. It can take an hour to complete the sign-up process, which is not something people appreciate considering other services have made it fast and easy.
The account has a trial period of 30 days without any cost. After which, you have to shell out £7.95 monthly in exchange for the credit report and all of the other features included in the service. However, it is pretty limited in terms of its features. There is no section offering tips on improving your credit score, and you do not get any real-time notifications in case of fraud alerts.
A newbie in the credit monitoring industry, Credit Karma lives up to its name as it gives back to you in exchange for what you do. Founded in 2007, the service’s headquarters is in California while it serves customers across the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada.
Credit Karma offers lifetime access for free. This means that you do not have to spend a single penny to use its services. These include your present credit score, your credit report with all the details regarding your financial transactions for the previous six years, a listing of the lenders that have viewed your file for the last two years as well as details of all your financial connections such as joint account holders.
The credit report is all-inclusive, providing details about electoral roll registration, notices of correction, and search histories, to name a few. Information on the different things that can affect your credit score is also provided along with tips on how it can be improved. There are also credit monitoring tools you can use to evaluate the changes in your credit rating.
Your credit scores presented in Credit Karma are from Equifax and TransUnion, and they are not always the same. This is due to numerous factors such as your lenders not reporting to the three credit unions or their reports not sent at the same time. Clicking Score Details on the My Overview page will lead you to a four-month graph showing all the changes in your credit score. You can then see the factors such as credit card use, derogatory remarks, and payment history, which have the most impact as well as credit age, hard inquiries, and total accounts as the least impacting ones.
Another link will lead you to the actual credit reports, and there you will find the See My Plan link. This one brings you to the page where a series of steps is laid out for you to follow, so you can bring your credit score up.
Signing up takes a few minutes and is really easy. All you need is your basic personal information plus some finance-related details like your Social Security number. Since your account keeps sensitive and very important information, you should utilize the site’s security features. These include the two-factor authentication and security questions required to be answered whenever you log in to the account using a different device.
The site offers a simple user experience. Its dashboard has been modified over time, but it remains effective. Your credit score based on the report from two out of the three top credit bureaus is present right on top of the dashboard. A graphic illustration further presents where you are on the scale and an arrow shows how high or low your current score is in comparison to that in the last report.
Credit Karma also has a mobile app that you can download both on Android and iOS, so you can check on your credit score anywhere at anytime. You also receive updates for any significant changes that occur with your credit report and score.
A downside of Credit Karma’s services is the lack of data protection. Considering how critical financial information is, this is something that most people cannot do without.
Launched in March 2000, CheckMyFile prides itself on being the UK’s only multi-agency credit report provider. It is also the first one to offer access to credit reports online.
CheckMyFile takes a unique approach compared to its competition by formulating your credit report using data from Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, and Crediva together. This is based on the understanding of how lenders tend to acquire credit information about you from more than one source. They have their own credit systems that they use to calculate your credit score.
You have the ability to check through the reports and request amendments on the information such as credit agreement details, the payments made as well as any accounts closed. The report also categorizes your credit like credit cards, loans, mortgages, and others. Your report gets updated as your score improves, so you can track your progress regularly. You also get a more detailed view of your report, highlight the positive and negative parts of your credit score instead of the common single dimension credit report.
In addition to the credit report, the service from CheckMyFile has a credit score check, advice on improving your credit score, a view at your financial associations as well as warnings for fraud.
You undoubtedly get the most complete look at your credit history with CheckMyFile. The information provided from multiple agencies is very helpful for you to determine any differences. It also gives you the chance to get any wrong information corrected and, consequently, get your credit rating improved.
Another advantage with CheckMyFile is how it shows you which agency gives the best score and which lender utilizes that agency in evaluating your credit rating. This significantly increases the approval of your credit or loan applications. CheckMyFile, generally, has more information than other services. However, it is quite easy to understand. It presents the information in graphs and lists with bullet points. Every section also has explanations, so you have a clear understanding of where it is taken from and why it is applicable and valuable.
Even though the service deals with four agencies as the basis for its report, signing up for the service and retrieving the data required was pretty quick. The website is also pretty direct and simple to use. To get started, all you need to provide is your basic personal information and credit card details. However, they do not charge you until after completing the free trial period. You should cancel it before the time is up if you decide not to go ahead with the service.
CheckMyFile has a 30-day free trial offer. The monthly cost of using the service after that is £14.99.
The service values security highly. Its website is on a secure connection, and encryption is applied to the data that you provide. The reports are password-protected, so they are safe both from malware and unauthorized individuals.
One of the downsides of the service is how the reports appear confusing at first. The abundance of information makes it too complicated for some people. Their support hours are limited, so it can be a challenge to get in touch with them if you work long hours. It is also unfortunate that there is no mobile app for the service, and you do not get any automatic alerts for signs of fraud and identity theft. You can learn about them when you log in only.
Choosing the best UK credit monitoring services
Each of the services on the market today that offer credit monitoring bring their own set of advantages and disadvantages, benefits and limitations. However, some of them, including the ones that made it to this list, offer the cream of the crop. It might be necessary to spend a few bucks, but this is a cost that is certainly worth it.
If you really have a budget constraint, there is still the option to go with the free services available. Some of which have limited features while others lack certain attributes such as security. However, they are still able to provide the basic assistance that you need in handling your credit score.
Determining which one is most suitable for you is a process by itself. You have to take several considerations into mind. These include how long you have been monitoring your credit score and what is your purpose for doing so now. Some service providers can give you in-depth information about your history going to a few months or more years back.
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