Credit reports are one of the essential factors in applying for a mortgage – and there are several credit reporting bureaus and agencies, as well as banking providers, that offer information about your credit file.
One of the issues can be that some credit reports take several weeks to update or may not reflect your latest credit score. They might not be the most reliable way to verify your credit status before making any long-term financial decisions.
CheckMyFile is a recommended option, as the top-ranked service according to TrustPilot. Although ongoing access requires a £14.99 subscription cost per month, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial and cancel at any point.
This guide explains what CheckMyFile is, what it does, and why accurate credit file information is so important to a successful mortgage application.
What Is CheckMyFile?
In the UK, we have four major credit bureaus that all banks, lenders and mortgage providers rely on when they conduct a credit assessment against a new applicant.
The scoring systems vary considerably, so a points system with one bureau that indicates an excellent credit score might mean something very different from another.
A complication exists because some lenders use one of these four agencies, and some multiple credit bureaus, so accessing your credit report from one organisation might not paint the same picture your lender will see.
CheckMyFile is not a standalone credit bureau but collates all of the information on file at every one of the largest four bureaus, including:
The benefit to you is that you can create one account, access all of your information, and will not need to spend time signing up for four different reporting systems.
What Information Can I Get From CheckMyFile?
Once you have created an account, you can choose to stay registered for the complimentary 30-day period or keep your login active and pay the monthly subscription – although there is no obligation to do so.
The advantage is that you get a complete overview of all the credit reporting information available about you, so that you can identify areas that require action, how your credit score stacks up, and review six years of payment history.
For example, if one credit bureau has a late payment on file from five and a half years ago (which the others may not), you can choose whether to proceed with a mortgage application or wait until the report has expired from your record.
Alternatively, you can have a chat with Think Plutus about your credit score, enabling us to recommend lenders who have no qualms about lending to an applicant with one historic late payment without charging a premium on your interest rates.
Credit score repairs are a common task ahead of a mortgage application. We can happily provide advice about available actions such as registering to vote, closing unused credit accounts or paying down small balances to boost your credit status.
Why Can I Not Use Credit Reports From the Credit Bureaus?
There is no reason you cannot sign up for an account with each of the four primary credit referencing agencies in the UK and review the information each holds about you – but the caveat is that scoring systems vary considerably.
Credit bureaus do not use any standardised system, and it can be all but impossible to work out how your consolidated score works between each report.
For example, if you log into Experian, you will have a credit score between zero and 999. TransUnion uses an entirely different system, assigning credit ratings up to 710.
Every mortgage lender and bank has a preferred credit referencing agency and might use a bespoke report system. It is extremely difficult to know what data they use to decide your creditworthiness or the interest rates they might offer you.
CheckMyFile resolves the issue by combining everything from all four agencies, giving you control over your credit report and any actions you decide to take.
Why Sign Up For a CheckMyFile Account?
The idea is that CheckMyFile provides you with a detailed, up-to-date and accurate credit history with itemised reports about every financial event that has contributed to your credit report and credit score.
Note that credit scores are not the only definitive piece of data when applying for a mortgage.
Some lenders make instant decisions based on an arbitrary number. In contrast, others will investigate your credit history and apply your report to their lending policies on a case-by-case basis.
A CheckMyFile report shows you everything any lender can see about you when they assess your mortgage application, putting the ball back in your court.
For example, you might select a specific lender with a compatible lending policy, choose to repair your credit score before you apply or increase your deposit to offset any perceived risks.
Another outcome could be providing supporting information with your mortgage application to put credit issues into context.
An unavoidable, blameless financial situation such as redundancy or serious ill health could explain why you had a temporary log of late payments and present a strong case that the problem would be highly unlikely to recur.
Most lenders would take a very different view on an application with a long-term history of responsible financial management, who had a series of defaults several years ago due to circumstances outside of their control.
What Does My CheckMyFile Account Include?
When you sign up with CheckMyFile, you can see all the relevant reports related to your credit report, including:
- Every credit account you have taken out, including loans, mortgages, mobile contracts, payday loans, and hire purchase agreements.
- Late or unpaid instalments that present an issue for future credit applications, along with defaults, CCJs, insolvencies and bankruptcies.
- Credit information concerning linked accounts with joint applicants such as housemates or partners, past and present, if you have held a joint account within the last six years.
Your credit report covers the last 72 months, after which your credit history becomes archived. You can use CheckMyFile to help restore a healthy credit report by running a check for identity fraud, contesting incorrect records, or challenging poor credit scoring associated with an ex-partner.
Is it Worth Using CheckMyFile?
There are several choices when it comes to educating yourself about the contents of your credit report before you apply for a mortgage.
Still, CheckMyFile is regarded as the best service since it provides a comprehensive overview of all your credit history from the four largest credit bureaus.
What Counts as a Good CheckMyFile Credit Score?
It is a common misconception that you must hit a threshold credit score to qualify for a mortgage. As we have explored, each credit agency uses a different scoring system, and a score considered ‘good’ with one might be classed as ‘excellent’ on another.
CheckMyFile uses a simple system from zero to 1,000. While a higher score is positive, you do not necessarily need a specific number to access a competitive mortgage.
Most mortgage lenders use credit scoring to inform their approvals and underwriting service because your credit history indicates the likelihood that you will fail to keep up with your repayments.
However, much more than that goes into decision-making, such as your annual income, pre-existing debts, deposit value and security.
As an indication, the CheckMyFile reports display a metric called the ‘likelihood of defaulting’. That by no means says that you will fall behind with your mortgage repayments, but it gives a rough idea about how a mortgage lender may perceive the score.
|Likelihood of Defaulting Metric
|Up to 449
|450 - 639
|640 - 719
|720 - 829
|830 - 900
|900 and above
These figures are estimates, but it is important to remember that mortgage lenders will assess every application. Your credit score is one of several elements that go into securing a mortgage agreement.
How Do Credit Scores Impact a Mortgage Application?
All mortgage lenders use some aspect of credit scoring within their evaluation process, although the agencies they use and the criteria they apply can vary considerably.
A higher credit score shows a better history of responsible finances and means that you have not defaulted or been late on any previous repayments.
However, low credit scores can arise for many reasons, including not being registered on the electoral roll, never using credit financing, or not having lived in the UK for many years.
UK mortgage lenders have different lending policies and rules that determine how they will review your application. There is no specific credit score for a mortgage to be successful with a mortgage application – nor can a credit score guarantee approval.
The key is to work with an experienced, independent broker to review your application and circumstances and recommend lenders with suitable criteria that will make you a viable candidate for the mortgage value you require.
Credit reports are useful to help you prepare to apply for a mortgage because you can address issues or rectify errors, but they are one piece of a much larger puzzle.
Independent Advice for Mortgage Applicants with Credit Concerns
Whether you have an impeccable credit score or are worried about eligibility for the mortgage you need, Think Plutus can steer you through the next steps as an independent, whole-of-market private mortgage broker.
We always recommend that you approach a mortgage application armed with the information you need to gauge a lender’s likely response. Your CheckMyFile credit report may directly impact the right lender for you.
If you would like further advice about credit scoring, the CheckMyFile service, and its relevance to your mortgage application, please get in touch at your convenience for a friendly chat with one of our expert mortgage advisers.
Frequently Asked Questions: CheckMyFile and Mortgage Finance
Below we answer some common questions about credit reports and mortgage applications and how CheckMyFile may improve your prospects.
Does Opening a CheckMyFile Account Appear on My Credit Report?
No, looking into your credit report does not appear on your file or have any effect whatsoever on your credit score.
Is My CheckMyFile Credit Score the Same as Any Other Credit Referencing Agency?
Each credit referencing bureau has a different scoring system, so your CheckMyFile report may not replicate the same information. Instead, it is a report that consolidates all the data available about your credit history from the four largest UK reporting bodies.
For example, you may have a late payment that shows on one credit report but not another or an old default that has disappeared from your credit report with two of the four main providers.
Your credit score may not be identical because it captures data from all four agencies into one comprehensive report.
What Is the Point of Paying for a CheckMyFile Subscription?
CheckMyFile is free for 30 days, so if you want to review your credit report before applying for a mortgage, you can sign up and cancel before the monthly subscription costs kick in.
However, it is important to understand that your credit report is not something you have no control over and that it can significantly affect your chances of mortgage approval and the interest rates you end up paying.
We know that applying blindly for a mortgage, with no idea about your credit report, can be extremely stressful, and that a few positive actions can make a compelling impact.
For example, if you have a borderline positive credit score and can close a few credit accounts you had forgotten about, it could go a long way to broadening the number of mortgage lenders you could apply to.
Why Is a CheckMyFile Credit Score Different From Another Credit Bureau?
Although UK residential mortgage lending is heavily regulated, there is no standard for credit reporting or credit scoring. Each agency uses the system it prefers to assign scores and determine whether they are positive or negative.
Your CheckMyFile credit report will not match any other report exactly because it combines information from TransUnion, Experian, Crediva and Equifax into one report.
How Much Does it Cost to Get a Credit Report From CheckMyFile?
The first 30 days are free of charge, and you pay a subscription of £14.99 a month after that. However, you can cancel at any point, and there is no obligation to sign up for a long-term account.
Is CheckMyFile Up to Date?
It is surprisingly common to find inaccurate or outdated information on your credit report – and it can be frustrating to find an old loan that you have repaid still on your file when you apply for a mortgage.
The issue is that lenders or banks update credit referencing agencies at different speeds, and the rate at which the agency processes that information varies.
Most credit changes are up to date within one to two months, so it is wise to give yourself leeway if you want to apply for a mortgage, but expect changes to appear on your credit report within that time frame.