Free vs paid credit reports

There are lots of credit reports available in the market now, offering a range of services. When it comes to credit checking your customers and suppliers, you’ll be presented with a lot of choices. The main differentiation and deciding factor for you will probably be whether you should pay for a premium service such as Experian Business Express or use a free business credit report. We lay out the main differences between a paid and free service.

Speed of Data

Free – Data is updated to their system 24 hours at best after the data is received, analysed and uploaded or up to 10 working days.

Paid – Updated regularly. After the data feed is received, it will be uploaded to the system within a couple of hours or a maximum of 24 hours.

Depth of Data

Free – Often only contain very basic information such as red, amber or green credit status, a list of director names and key financials like cash, net worth, current liabilities and current assets. This is a current snapshot of their status and sourced from freely available sources.

Paid – You will get a visual credit status but this will be on a scoring system from 1 to 100 which you can compare against our scale to see how creditworthy that company is. It also includes a more detailed report of the company so you can tell whether their credit status has or will be improving or worsening rather than just a snapshot in time. You can make better informed decisions based on the fact our score is derived from analysis of lots of detailed information.

Examples of other information you wouldn’t receive in a free report is:

  • County court judgements
  • Payment performance data
  • Mortgages

Paid vs free

Source of Data

Free – For free reports, this is simply a collation of free and public information gathered from the internet. The reliability and how up to date it is could be questionable as company information changes every day and you don’t know how reliable the sources they’re pulling this information from are.

Paid – With premium credit reporting services, they usually have their own database of information which is pulled from lots of different sources and fed into the system to be analysed on a regular basis for the most up to date information.  For example, with Experian Business Express, we have a large set of historical data to learn from and base our analysis and compilation of data on with over 25 years of data.

Ease of use

Free – The data will just be presented to you rather than having done analysis and suggestions for you. It is simply a collation of information that you could’ve sourced yourself from the internet.

Paid – You get lots of information and data compiled and presented back to you in an easy to understand format. So rather than wasting time trying to work out what everything means, we explain to you what all the statistics mean and are trying to tell you regarding your credit.

You can also add businesses to a monitoring list on paid services so you’ll be automatically notified of any changes in your customers or suppliers financials. This is a lot more convenient than having to pull out free reports every week or month and cross referencing, or even leaving it too late after they’ve gone into administration.

On-going support

Free – A free report is exactly what it says it is, simply a credit report for free. After that you are left to decipher and understand it yourself.

Paid – After receiving your report, if there is anything you don’t understand, you can call up one of the customer service team who will be able to explain to you what everything on your credit report means. They will help you understand the data and give you on-going support and guidance on how to improve your credit score if needed.