Your credit rating and credit report are both important, but (spoiler!) there are a number of reasons the latter requires more attention.
The world of credit ratings and reports can often trip people up. From what they are, the difference between the two, and which is more important, there’s a lot of credit-related jargon to digest and understand. But hopefully, this article will put an end to all of that.
Your credit rating is like your grade in an exam. It tells you how you’ve done overall, but it doesn’t give you any insight into where you’ve done well and how you can improve for next time. And that’s where your credit report comes in. Your credit report is the marked exam paper, and it provides the all-important context to the grade you’re given.
What’s a credit rating?
Your credit rating (or 'score') is a numerical value. Each lender and credit reference agency will have their own way of working out your digits, which is why there’s no such thing as a universal score and you may find it varies slightly from provider-to-provider.
To calculate your credit rating, your credit report, application information (like your income, employment and living status) and past dealings are all taken into account, and different weights are given to different factors.
Credit ratings aren’t set in stone. So, if you have a less-than-ideal credit rating as it stands, you certainly won’t be lumbered with it for life. If you take steps to improve your credit rating, over time, your rating could soon shoot up - but remember, equally, it can go down just as quick too.
What’s a credit report?
Your credit report backs up your credit rating and is made up of a number of financial and non-financial details, like:
How much credit you currently have available to you
Whether you’re a responsible borrower - i.e. do you have a history of paying back credit on time and in full?
Any individuals you’re financially linked to
If you have any County Court Judgements (CCJs), house repossessions, bankruptcies or individual voluntary agreements (IVAs) against your name
Your name, date of birth, and current and previous home addresses
Both credit ratings and credit reports are needed in their own right, but the latter is certainly more valuable. Here are a handful of reasons credit reports perhaps deserve more of your attention than credit scores:
1) It’s the basis of your credit rating
Errors and inaccuracies in your credit report can have a direct impact on your credit score, which in turn influences things like your ability to rent a property, take out credit, or land a job. Looking at your credit score alone won’t tell you any of this though, it’s the report that delves into the detail.
2) You can question it
Your credit score number is your credit score number. If you’re not happy with it, there’s nothing you can directly do to change it. If there’s something in your credit report you’re not happy or disagree with though, you can contest it. And, if the dispute goes your way, the incorrect information will be removed, and that can then be reflected in your credit score.
An example of a dispute might be if there’s an entry in your credit report saying you once missed a mobile phone bill, but you’re absolutely certain you didn’t.
3) It’s consistent
As we touched on earlier, credit reference agencies have their own models when it comes to the number-crunching, so your credit rating can be inconsistent. Your credit report, on the other hand, is what it says it is, and so gives you a more accurate picture of your current credit position.
4) It flags fraud
If someone’s taking out credit in your name and acting fraudulently, regularly checking your credit report can help to identify it - regularly looking at your credit score alone can’t.
5) Employers look at
If you’re applying for a job that requires a credit check, potential employers won’t look at your credit score, they’ll look at your credit report. So, checking your report and ensuring it’s accurate could actually make or break your job application success.
Your credit rating and credit report should work in tandem. Because your credit rating is simply a number, it’s extremely easy to get a quick overview of your credit health at a glance - without having to trawl through your credit report.
For example, if you check in one day and notice a steep drop in your score, your credit rating might be the element that initially identifies the problem, but your credit report would uncover the detail and provide the information to resolve it.
So, as you can see, both your rating and report are important in their own right, but hopefully, this blog’s given you an idea of the difference between the two.
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.