What am I looking for on a credit report?

The aim of this post is to help you Understand what we are looking for when we ask for your credit report.

Many people think the score is important, but after 10 years we have a phrase here… Ignore the score! At best it is an indication, but it is not something we use and neither do most lenders.

What are we not looking for?

We are not looking for the score. Over the years we have seen people with 999 scores and a default! We have also seen people with very low scores and no adverse showing. Lenders may credit score you, some do and others do not.

We are not looking for Clear Score. This site is not a credit report, it is more of a credit overview and nowhere near detailed enough, there are other similar sites to this, but they are the big one.

What are we looking for?

When we ask for your credit report (we do this for everyone), it is because we want to check a few things.

The first thing is that we want to see your payment history. It will show the payments made (or not) for the last 6 years for all or most of your credit commitments.

The image below is from CheckMyFile, this shows how 3 different credit reports can show the same commitment. This is the information we are looking for on a credit report, the worst status, when any arrears were etc. We are not looking for the score etc.

Credit report payment history
Credit report payment history

We are also looking to see if there is a trend. A simple example is if you have 5 Defaults all registered between say June and August 2020, we can see there was a problem during those 3 months. This might allow us to get you a mortgage at normal rates.

If we see 5 Defaults spread out over 3 years, there is less of a chance of getting that through at normal rates but at least we know where we are going and so we can avoid wasting time.

The second thing we are looking for is trends. Are the balances of your credit cards going up or coming down? If they are going up, we may need to delve deeper to understand why credit cards are going up. Again, it is not a deal breaker, but the more we know the more we can help to narrow in on the right lender for you.

The last thing is to just ensure you know what is on there. The reason we now ask everyone for a credit report is because over the years the amount of people who have forgotten or were not aware of negative markers is quite surprising. So rather than risk a last minute surprise and wasting times and doing pointless credit checks, we prefer to understand the full story upfront.

The details are good

Credit reports are great due to the amount of information they hold. They start to tell us a story, sometimes we get the wrong end up the stick and make incorrect assumptions which is why we may ask about things.

Other times the story helps. The example above, if we can see there was a period where you struggled this is not a bad thing. That happens, life is not perfect and things do go wrong. Seeing a short period where you struggled in a 6 year period shows you are only human.

Where can I get my credit report?

There are a few places you can obtain your credit report. We do not need all of these reports, any of them will be fine. The first 3 are links to the actual credit agencies. You can get a copy of your report for free, although they may choose to post it out so it may not be as quick. They may also have a free trial period.

CheckMyFile is slightly different in that it has all 3 credit files combined so gives a more thorough overview. But we will happily take any of them.