When choosing a company to provide a credit report, you should take note of the different systems and laws in your country. For example, the United States uses a scoring system, while credit reports in the United Kingdom simply list your credit history. However, there are some general principles which apply in most countries.
The first thing to ask before choosing a firm is what information they hold in your credit report. In some cases, a loan application may only be recorded by the reporting firm which receives the relevant credit check request from the lender. Generally, you will want to pick the firm which offers the most detail, but in some countries you may need to get multiple credit histories to cover the entire picture.
If you live in a country that uses credit scoring, look for a credit report firm which breaks down the details. A credit score can be made up of several factors, including the types of borrowing you’ve made, how much you’ve borrowed, how long you have borrowed for, and how regularly you have repaid on time. If you can get a credit history that shows the different categories, you’ll get a better idea of areas you might need to work on to improve your eligibility for credit.
Different credit report companies have different pricing options. Some will only offer a one-off check for a set fee, while others will offer unlimited checks for a monthly or annual subscription. If you regularly apply for credit or are concerned about identity theft, you may wish to check more often and subscription deals may work out to be a better value. You may also find that in your country you are entitled to one free report a year, though this may not be as complete as the paid reports.
If you decide to check your credit report only now and again, the best time to do so is before any major credit applications, such as a mortgage or renting a property. Checking your credit history first will avoid the risk of being rejected because of incorrect information in the report. Local laws vary, but usually you will be allowed either to demand incorrect details are corrected, or to attach a note so that lenders can see you have challenged a report. Usually checking your own record won’t affect your credit rating, but this may not be the case in some countries.