Discover your credit score and more importantly, how to improve it.
Your credit score is one of the ways that lenders can assess the risk they take when they lend money to you. Related to your credit file or your credit history, your credit score is a numerical rating that sums up your financial history and the risk you pose to a lender. The higher your score, the more likely you are to be approved for a loan. The page below shows you how you can find out your credit score, what it means, and what you can do to improve it.
"What is my credit score?"
If you’ve ever applied for credit of any kind credit reporting agencies will have a record of you doing so. Your personal information, credit inquiries, defaults and other details are listed in your credit report, and this information, both positive and negative, is used to calculate your credit score.
This score offers a reflection of your ability to borrow money and then make repayments on time. The lower your score, the less likely a lender is to allow you to borrow any money.
While no score is held in your credit file, credit reporting agencies can generate your score at any time. Lenders then use your credit score in conjunction with your credit file to determine your borrowing eligibility.
What's a good credit score?
Credit reporting agency Equifax uses its own scoring system to give you a rating of between 0 and 1200. This number describes the overall status of your credit file, with those with higher scores a better chance of being approved for a loan.
|Credit position||Equifax Score||What it means|
|Excellent||833-1200||You're in the top 20% of credit-active population of Equifax in Australia and it's highly unlikely an adverse event will harm your credit in the next 12 months.|
|Very good||726-832||You're two times as likely as the rest of credit-active population of Equifax in Australia to keep a clean credit report and it's unlikely you'll incur an adverse event in the next 12 months.|
|Good||622-725||You are more likely than credit-active population of Equifax in Australia to keep a clean credit report in the next 12 months, and you're less likely to incur an adverse event during this time.|
|Average||510-621||It's likely you'll incur an adverse event such as a default, bankruptcy or court judgement in the next 12 months.|
|Below average||0-509||You're in the bottom 20% of credit-active population of Equifax in Australia and it's more likely you'll incur an adverse event such as a default, bankruptcy or court judgement in the next 12 months.|
How is my score calculated?
A number of factors are taken into account to create your credit score. These factors include:
- Your personal information. How old are you? How long have you been employed? How long have you lived at your current address? All these details can affect your credit score.
- The credit provider. The lender you approach for finance can influence your credit score. This is because borrowing from different lenders, such as banks or store finance providers, comes with different risks.
- How much credit you apply for. The amount of money you borrow will obviously influence your ability to pay it back, so your credit score will reflect how likely you are to be able to pay back a larger loan.
- How many applications you’ve made. Having numerous applications for credit can affect your credit score. If you’ve applied and been rejected for credit before, this can also be a red flag to lenders.
- Directorship and proprietorship information. Directors’ or proprietors’ credit scores can also be influenced by the commercial sections of their credit files.
- The age of your credit file. Recently created credit reports might indicate that you currently pose a higher level of risk than people who have a credit file that was created years ago.
- Defaults and outstanding debts. Any overdue debts or defaults in your history can have a serious impact on your credit score. Similarly, if you have other outstanding debts, this will also have a negative effect.
- Court writs and default judgements. The presence of either of these on your credit report would represent an increased risk to lenders.
How can I find out my credit score?
Here are some of the different ways you can find out your credit score:
- Equifax: Credit reporting bureau Equifax do not automatically include your credit score with your credit report, so while you can access your credit report for free you will have to get your Equifax Score separately. You can only get your Equifax Score by purchasing a Equifax package, starting with the Equifax Starter pack at $79.95 per year.
- Dun and Bradstreet. The D&B Rating is a commercial credit score and combines a company's size and balance sheet information to help people evaluate a company's credibility and financial risk. It's included in a D&B Credit Report.
- Experian. You can receive a free credit report and credit score from Experian within 10 days by emailing an Experian Credit Report Request along with the required documents or filling out the request form.
Is it important to know my credit score?
Your credit score can help you to better understand your credit position, but the main thing you want to check is your credit report. When reviewing your application, a lender will check your credit file to ensure you don't have too many active credit accounts, have not made too many applications recently or have not defaulted on any loans or credit cards.
Your credit score can give a quick summation of your credit situation, but does not give the detail the lender will be looking for. This is why it's important to keep your credit file in check and up to date. If you keep your credit file updated and correct your credit score will remain up-to-date and improve with your file.
Read more to help you improve your credit position
Your credit score reflects what is in your credit report, so you should focus on improving your credit report to improve your score:
- Ensure all the information on your credit file is correct. Occasionally, defaults and other things are listed incorrectly and can hurt your score, so ensure you check it regularly.
- Don't make too many credit applications. Applying with too many lenders in a short space of time can be a red flag to lenders and can damage your credit score.
- Ensure you're out of your employment probation before applying for credit. Your employment can affect your loan application and, as mentioned, a rejected application can damage your credit score. Make sure you give yourself the best chance of being approved.
- Reduce credit card limits you don't need. Your credit limits have an effect on your score, so if you can afford to reduce limits you may want to consider doing it.
- Know when you can check your file for free and do it regularly. You can check your file for free once a year and when you're rejected for credit in the previous 90 days. There are also credit monitoring services you can sign up to that you can consider.
How do I get a copy of my credit file?
Every Australian has the right to obtain a free copy of their credit report and take action to correct any wrongful information. If you opt for a free report you’ll have to wait 10 days for the report to be sent to you. You can also pay a small fee to have the file sent out to you within 24 hours.
The following agencies can supply you with a copy of your credit file:
- Experian Credit Report
- Tasmanian Collection Service
You’ll need to provide your personal details and proof of identity in order to get a copy of your credit file.
Have more questions about your credit score?
What do I need to provide to get my credit score?
You need to provide your personal information as well as documents to verify your identity, such as your driver's licence.
What is an "adverse event"?
This is a default, a court judgement or a writ, a bankruptcy or a personal insolvency.
Can you have a negative credit score?
Yes. If you are a current or discharged bankrupt, are under currently under or have been discharged from a debt agreement or a personal insolvency agreement, your credit score may be in the negative.
Do I need to pay to get a copy of my credit file?
No, you can order a copy of your file for free but you will have to wait 10 days to get it. If you need your file more urgently, you’ll have to pay a fee and receive it in 1-2 days depending on the bureau you order it from.
Where can I get a copy of my credit file?
If you live in Tasmania you can order a copy of your credit file from Equifax and the Tasmanian Collection Service, and if you live in any other state you can order a free copy of your file from Equifax, Dun and Bradstreet and Experian.