Your credit file guide

Want to be in a better position the next time you apply for credit? Here's what you need to know about your credit file.

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Your credit file contains information lenders and other providers use to assess you when you apply for certain products and services. Your credit file contains a variety of information including personal details, credit accounts you have applied for, accounts you have defaulted on and more. It's important to understand each part of your credit file so that the next time you apply for credit you are in the best possible position to be approved. The guide below will take you through what you need to know.

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What is a credit file?

A credit file is a collection of information obtained from credit card providers, banks, mortgage providers and utility service providers. The financial information in your file is used by lenders to assess your ability to repay debt and manage loans. Lenders and service providers look at credit files to avoid the risk of giving credit to people who are known to default on payments and those with bankruptcy or insolvency issues. When these details are listed on a person's credit file, they may decline an application of, if they offer credit to those borrowers, they may have stricter requirements or higher rates and fees.

What information is in my credit report?

Your credit file contains your financial information, including repayment history, current debt, commercial and personal loans you have applied for and other details that help lenders assess your ability to responsibly manage credit. Here are the details contained in a credit report:

  • Personal information. Your name and date of birth, your current address, where you work, your driver’s license details and your gender are listed in your credit file.
  • Default notes. This is information on any overdue debts you might have, payments you've missed on loans and utility bills and other serious credit infringements.
  • Information that is public record. This section will contain any information that is held in the public record including bankruptcy notes, court writs and judgments, personal insolvency agreements and directorship or proprietorship information.
  • Consumer credit information. This includes credit applications you've made in the last five years (whether they were approved or not), the type of those credit accounts, such as credit card or personal loans, account open and close dates, the credit limit of the accounts, your monthly repayment history on credit accounts and details on overdue accounts.
  • Commercial credit information. Details of credit enquiries you may have made for commercial purposes and overdue commercial credit accounts are included in this section.
  • Joint applicants. If you've applied for any loans or credit cards as a joint borrower this will be listed on your report.

How do repayments affect my credit report?

When lenders access your credit file they want to ensure the information you supplied in your application is accurate and that you will be able to manage the debt you are applying for. If you consistently make late repayments it can indicate that you can't manage the debt you have, while making repayments on time can indicate to a lender that you're a responsible borrower.

If you have a default listed on your file you can also keep making your repayments on time to help build up a positive credit record. Ultimately, repayment history is just another part of the risk assessment that lenders undertake when assessing your ability to manage your debts.

What about payment plans and instalments?

If you are making payments to a buy now, pay later service, details of the account may be listed when you apply and if you default on your repayments. It does depend on the service though. For example, Afterpay does not typically check your credit report or provide details to credit-reporting bureaus, while zipPay and zipMoney do. To learn more, check out Finder's guide to interest-free payments and your credit score.

If you have set up an instalment plan on a credit card or another credit account that offers this option, the details will typically be reported in the same way as monthly repayments.

If you want to stay on top of the listings on your credit report, you can receive notifications every time something changes on your file thanks to the credit monitoring service offered when you get your credit report and score through Finder.

How long is information held on my file?

Following the introduction of comprehensive credit reporting, both positive and negative listings are recorded by credit providers. However, it is the negative listings such as bankruptcies and overdue accounts that will be listed on your file for longer and impact your ability to access credit. Use the following as a guide for how long listings will appear on your file:

Type of listingNumber of years it's listedDescription
Payment history information2Monthly repayment history information on active credit accounts.
Credit enquiries5Applications made to utility companies, banks or lenders for services or credit products (whether approved or not).
Overdue accounts listed as a payment default5Overdue accounts of $150 or more that is 60 days or more overdue.
Writs and summons5An invitation to appear in court to settle a debt. A writ is similar to a summons but is for a higher court.
Court judgements5Once you've been through the court process the court judgement will remain on your credit file for 5 years.
Bankruptcy information5If you enter into bankruptcy it will be removed from your file two years from the date you're discharged or five years from the date you became bankrupt, whichever is later.
Overdue accounts listed as a clearout or serious credit infringement5-7Overdue accounts in default where the credit provider hasn't been able to contact you for 6 months. Can be listed for 7 years from the time they're listed but drop back to 5 years as a default listing once it's paid.

How do I get a copy of my credit report?

You can get a free copy of your credit report, provided by Experian, through Finder. You can also check your credit score. You'll have access to your report and score whenever you want to check it through your Finder account. You can also get notifications when something changes on your report.

Get your free report and score here

What should I check in my credit file?

When you order your credit file you should go through the following details:

  • Personal information. Ensure all of your personal details are correct. This is to limit the chance of identity theft or being rejected for credit because of a misspelt first name.
  • Account details. Check that all your current credit accounts are listed correctly, including details about your credit limits and repayments when applicable. If some of this information does not look correct, see below for details of how to get it updated.
  • Incorrect defaults. Credit reporting agencies or lenders might list a default incorrectly into your file. A default could be listed twice or you could have a default listed for an account you paid on time. If you find an incorrect default talk to the credit reporting bureau first, then if that doesn't rectify it you should contact the credit provider. A full process for dealing with incorrect listings is outlined below.

How can I deal with incorrect listings?

  1. Contact the credit reporting bureau first. It may be able to remove it or contact the credit provider on your behalf to have it removed. If not;
  2. Contact the credit provider that listed it and explain why the listing is incorrect. The credit provider should have a dispute resolution team or process in place. You can also contact the Financial Ombudsmen Service or the Credit and Investments Ombudsmen. If that doesn't rectify it;
  3. Contact the Privacy Commissioner. This should be the last stop if the provider's dispute resolution scheme fails to rectify the issue. You only have 12 months from the date you became aware of the issue to file a complaint.

Frequently asked questions

I've never applied for a loan or credit card. Do I have a credit report?

Even if you have never applied for a credit product with a bank or standalone lender you may still have a credit report. If you've had a mobile phone contract or held a utility contract in your name, this is a form of credit. You may have also had interest-free store finance which is a type of credit card and listed on your credit file.

Do I have to request information be taken off my file or is it taken off automatically?

When it's time for the listing to be removed the credit reporting agency will remove it for you. If you find that the listing has not been taken off when it should have been you can get in touch with the credit reporting agency to have it removed.

Is my credit file the same with each provider?

There are different reporting bureaus and each will have access to different sources, so your credit score may be different with each one, but your credit file should remain the same.

Can paying my bills late affect my credit file?

Yes it can. Unpaid electricity or phone bills that are overdue can be listed as defaults after 60 days, though the credit provider has to inform you of the overdue bill before adding a listing to your credit report.

How can I find out my repayment history?

When you get a free credit report through Finder, you will see a record of your current and past credit accounts and any repayments history the credit provider has reported to Experian.

If you are making your repayments on time, you will see a green tick like this:

Current credit accounts in your credit report

You may also see other symbols depending on how you've been making repayments to that account:

How long does repayment history information stay on my file?

Repayment history information will remain on your credit file for two years. One or two late payments will not necessarily place you in the "bad credit" basket, but consistently making late payments will be a red flag to lenders and may affect your ability to access credit.

If I'm refused credit does it affect my credit file?

Yes. All credit enquiries are listed on your file and any refused applications may be a red flag to lenders. Avoid making too many applications in a short space of time or you'll have a hard time being approved for credit.

Under what circumstances can you obtain a free copy of your credit file?

You can check your credit report for free whenever you like with finder. If you'd prefer to get your credit report directly from a bureau, you can get one for free every 12 months or if you've been denied credit in the last 90 days.

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98 Responses

    Default Gravatar 6, 2019

    Using passport as ID, I’m supposed to answer as per ID, but…
    – My address is not in passport.
    – DOB in passport is ‘OCT,’ but only ’10’ is accepted
    So how do I answer for the system to work?

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiSeptember 7, 2019

      Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch! It’s helpful to know that you must enter all the details on our page as to how it exactly appears in your passport. If 10 as October is accepted, please enter 10 in the system. If your address is not in your passport, use your driver’s licence to get your credit score instead.

      Hope this helps!


    Default Gravatar
    AnonymousJune 19, 2019

    Hi Team,

    How to activate the credit check monitoring service thanks? I can check my credit score but it is updated on 03/June but I want to check the one as of now.


      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniJune 21, 2019Staff

      Hi Sai,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      Please note that credit reports on Finder update every 30 days for each user. Our system also checks each week and updates user reports if there’s any changes to a user’s report from Experian if your are opted into credit alerts/monitoring.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!


    Default Gravatar
    RebeccaJune 11, 2019

    Hi! I’m enquiring about a personal loan and my best options since my credit score is 816. I’m only casual working and on Centrelink benefits. If you could please tell me my best options, please.

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiJune 11, 2019

      Hi Rebecca,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      It’s great to know that your credit score is 816. This is an excellent score to get a personal loan. Note though that there are other factors that go with your personal loan application aside from a good credit score and it will ultimately depend on the lender.

      Given that you are on Centrelink and a casual worker, you may refer to our list of Centrelink loan providers to compare your options. As a friendly reminder, review the eligibility criteria of the loan before applying to increase your chances of approval. Read up on the terms and conditions and product disclosure statement and contact the bank should you need any clarifications about the policy.

      Hope this helps! Feel free to reach out for other concerns.


    Default Gravatar
    DarrenMay 16, 2019


    My question is regarding credit default. If you have defaulted on a loan and the loan then went to a collection company and it has been well over 7 years. Can you have it removed off you credit file seeing that things can only be held on your credit file for 7 years?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniMay 18, 2019Staff

      Hi Darren,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      Your default can turn into a serious credit infringement if still unpaid. It will show on your credit report until it is paid. If you pay it, it will revert to default and remain on your report for another five years.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!


    Default Gravatar
    KarenApril 1, 2019

    I have never applied for a loan, own my home freehold and have never defaulted on a bill. Credit card is paid off each month. Why is my credit rating only ‘good’ rather than excellent?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MaiApril 2, 2019Staff

      Hi Karen,

      Thank you for reaching out to Finder.

      I’m afraid I may not be able to exactly determine why your credit score rating is good despite the good attributes you mentioned above as there are several factors that may affect it. You may refer to our guide about credit score change and look for the part that says “How is my credit score calculated” and you may spot from there what could be the reason.

      If you noticed that there’s an error, take the necessary steps to fix mistakes on your credit report.

      Hope this helps.

      Kind Regards,

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