If you're planning to splash out in the Bullring this Christmas and pay the price afterwards, you should check your credit score with Experian CreditExpert and make sure you don't get thrown when it comes to your next credit application.

Everything from a store card to a new phone contract comes with a credit check these days, even some jobs require a clean credit history, so it's essential to know about yours. You don't have to wait for a disapproving look as the clerk pulls the bags back over the counter, you can find out all about your credit report with a 30-day trial from Experian CreditExpert now.

Even if you are given credit, you might suffer from excessive interest rates due to problems you don't even know about. Knowledge is power in this instance, and full access to your credit report will highlight obvious areas where you can improve and bring your score back to where it should be.

You can have access to your entire credit history and see any missed repayments, any forgotten bills or a number of other things that could affect your credit rating. These can range from something as innocuous as your name not being listed on the electoral roll through to full-blown identity fraud that could quietly be trashing your credit history while you carry on regardless.

Identity fraud is a growing problem and it can cause endless trouble, as the first some people know about it is when the debt collectors come to take their prized possessions. It can cost thousands, too, and take a long time to convince the lenders that you're not responsible. You can nip any suspicious activity in the bud by keeping a close eye on your credit score and making sure there's no activity you didn't authorise.

You might even find you haven't taken enough credit in your time and you need to take more loans to establish a full repayment history. It happens more often than you would think and frugal folk that never had a credit card have been denied something as simple as a mobile phone because they are a relative ghost on the financial system.

The 30-day trial will give you access to your credit score and report, which may be all you need to give you the ultimate peace of mind - safe in the knowledge that your score is perfect. For the rest of us, the website has a number of hints and tips, together with expert advice, on how to improve your credit score and get approved for that loan next time.

The 30-day trial includes Identity Fraud Expenses Insurance, which covers lost earnings, the cost of a replacement driving licence, charges and fees incurred due to the fraud and Experian will even deal with phone calls and letters on your behalf.

So you should go shopping in Birmingham this Christmas, go dancing down New Street with your bags in tow. Just make sure you're a savvy shopper that's getting the best deal with a full credit report from Experian CreditExpert