It is a fact of life these days that we all rely on credit to get through the ups and downs of normal, everyday living. We all use credit to pay for our housing costs through mortgages and bank loans and store deals. We use credit to pay our utility and services bills monthly or quarterly rather than pay-as-you-go or pushing 50p coins into a meter under the stairs. And we use credit cards to manage and juggle our personal expenditure.

Sometimes we can take it for granted that we’ll always get the credit we want, when we need it but lenders require some reassurance that we will repay any loan. That’s where your credit report comes in.

You will often have seen suppliers of all kinds advertise 0% offers or buy-now-pay-later deals but you may not have realised that these offers are not always available to everyone. The best rates may only be open to the most creditworthy customers and you could end up having to pay more than you had anticipated.

Accessing your credit report can highlight items that may have affected your credit rating so it is important to know the information that your credit report contains. It includes:

All the accounts you currently hold and have held and all your direct debits and standing orders and loan repayments. All the credit and debit cards – bank and store – you hold and details of your repayment history. Any legal judgements such as defaults, disputes, bankruptcies, insolvencies, IVAs or county court judgments against you. People with whom you share a financial connection will also be listed on your personal credit report as will your previous addresses.

Your personal credit report is a powerful financial management tool and allows you to see the same information that banks and other lenders use when they’re deciding whether to give you credit and if so, on what terms. Your credit report can also help you to protect yourself against the damaging impact of identity fraud by showing you who has been checking your report and highlighting any changes for you to check.