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Credit repair after bankruptcy

How to repair your credit after bankruptcy and get your finances back on track.

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If you've declared bankruptcy or are a discharged bankrupt, there are some steps you can take to improve your credit history. Bankruptcy remains on your credit report for up to seven years, so you can set short and long-term goals to get your finances back in order. If you've been discharged from bankruptcy, whether you can apply for a credit card will depend on your credit score and other factors.

From growing your savings to improving your repayment behaviour, you can use this guide to discover how you can improve your credit during and after your bankruptcy.

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How to repair your credit after bankruptcy

By following the positive financial steps below, you can start to improve your credit position after bankruptcy:

  • Work on your employment circumstances. The financial security that comes from having stable employment can improve your credit rating and shows lenders that you have a regular source of income. A permanent or ongoing job will also help your overall financial circumstances, so it is a great first step to take.
  • Grow your savings. Savings can demonstrate to lenders that you have the ability to financially manage your finances. Start by regularly putting money aside, even if it is just a small amount that you transfer to a dedicated savings account. You can also use finder's guide to budgeting to get started.
  • Consider getting a term deposit. If you have a lump sum of money you can put into a term deposit account, you may be able to use it to get a secure loan that will help re-establish your credit accounts. You can learn how they work and compare our options in finder's comprehensive guide to term deposits.
  • Limit your credit applications. Too many credit applications can negatively affect your credit history. Even if you've been discharged from bankruptcy, it’s important to be selective about the types of credit you apply for to increase your chances of approval. If possible, only apply for one product at a time and look for options that are likely to be approved, such as secured loans, options with a guarantor or joint accounts. You should also wait until you've built up your credit score before you apply for any lines of credit. Otherwise, any rejected applications could further hurt your credit score.
  • Make payments on time. Whether you have a secured loan or an electricity account in your name, paying the balance on time will help you build up good credit history after bankruptcy.
  • Talk to issuers. If you want to apply for a particular product after bankruptcy or learn what options are available, consider contacting banks and other lenders to discuss your situation. They will be able to advise you on your eligibility and answer any specific questions that you have to help you find options that will work for you.

The credit repair process takes time, but each positive behaviour will have a good impact on your credit file. You can check out finder's guide to credit repair for more tips.

Is it worth contacting a credit repair agency after bankruptcy?

If you've found any incorrect negative listings or black marks on your file, you can enlist the help of a professional credit repair agency to have those listings removed. However, these credit repair agencies may be able to do little for you after bankruptcy.

In fact, the government’s MoneySmart website warns people to be wary of these companies as they “may not always be able to do what they claim”. So if you are interested in getting a credit repair agency to help you improve your credit file, make sure you compare different options and research their services so that you know exactly what you are paying for.

Want to know more? Check out Finder's guide to Australian credit repair companies to compare your options.

What types of credit cards can I get after bankruptcy?

You'll need to have a good credit score to apply and be approved for a credit card in Australia. This means that you're unlikely to be eligible for a credit card shortly after being discharged from bankruptcy. If you've been following the steps above and improving your credit score, there are some credit cards that could suit you:

  • Credit cards with low minimum income requirements. These cards have low minimum annual income requirements of around $15,000 to $25,000 per year. They usually offer features such as low interest rates, competitive annual fees and sometimes 0% balance transfer offers. If used properly and paid in full each statement period, these cards could help you build up your credit history without high costs.
  • Low credit limit cards. These cards have low maximum credit limits, which can help you keep your spending under control. When you apply for a credit card, you should request a realistic credit limit and make sure you stick to a budget to avoid overspending. Again, paying off your balance in full each statement is ideal and will help you avoid interest costs.
  • Joint account credit cards. You can apply for some credit cards with another person, which means both your credit histories will be assessed for the application and you will share responsibility for the account. If the other applicant has a good credit history, it can increase your chances of the credit card being approved so that you can start building up a good credit score.

You should only apply for a card when you are confident you’ll meet the eligibility requirements and can manage the account responsibly. Bankruptcy can remain on your credit report for seven years, so you may want to contact the bank before you apply to discuss the likelihood of your approval. Otherwise,

Make sure to compare your options and consider contacting the card issuer before applying to discuss your likelihood of approval before applying.

Compare low credit limit and joint-account credit cards

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Purchase rate Balance transfer rate Annual fee Min credit limit Max credit limit Minimum income
St.George Vertigo Classic
0% for 7 months, reverts to 13.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 22 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
$0 annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
$500
$80,000
Get 0% p.a. promotional purchase and balance transfer rates and save with a first-year annual fee waiver.
Westpac Low Rate Card
13.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 20 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$59
$1,000
$25,000
$15,000
A low rate card offering 0% p.a. interest on balance transfers for the first 20 months and a $200 cashback offer.
Bankwest Breeze Classic Mastercard
0% for 15 months, reverts to 10.99% p.a.
2.99% p.a. for 9 months
$49
$1,000
$15,000
Save with an introductory rate of 0% p.a on purchases for 15 months and 2.99% p.a. on balance transfers for 9 months.
Coles No Annual Fee Mastercard - Exclusive Offer
0% for 12 months, reverts to 19.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months
$0
$2,000
$25,000
Finder Exclusive. Ends 29 October 2020
Save on new and existing interest charges with 0% interest on both balance transfers and purchases for the first 12 months.
NAB Low Rate Credit Card
12.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 20 months with 2% balance transfer fee
$59
$1,000
$30,000
Get a 0% p.a. interest rate for 20 months on balance transfers, Visa Offers + Perks and a competitive $59 ongoing annual fee.
Bendigo Bank Low Rate Credit Card
0% for 15 months, reverts to 11.99% p.a.
13.99% p.a.
$45
$500
Get 0% p.a. interest on purchases for 15 months and a $150 Woolworths Supermarket gift card when you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days.
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Classic
0% for 7 months, reverts to 13.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 22 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
$0 annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
$500
$80,000
Save with 0% p.a. for 7 months on purchases, 0% p.a. interest for 22 months on balance transfers and a $0 first-year annual fee.
Coles Rewards Mastercard - Exclusive Offer
19.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 18 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
$0 annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
$2,000
$25,000
Finder Exclusive. Ends 29 October 2020
Save with $100 off a Coles Supermarket shop and a $0 first-year annual fee. Plus, 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 18 months (1.5% fee applies).
BankSA Vertigo
0% for 7 months, reverts to 13.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 22 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
$0 annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
$500
$80,000
Enjoy a 0% p.a. for up to 22 months on balance transfers and up to 7 months on purchases. Plus, $0 first-year annual fee.
BankSA No Annual Fee
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$0
$500
$40,000
Offers 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 12 months, up to 55 days interest-free on purchases and an ongoing $0 annual fee.
ANZ Low Rate
12.49% p.a.
0% p.a. for 25 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
$0 annual fee for the first year ($58 p.a. thereafter)
$1,000
Save with 0% p.a on balance transfers for 25 months (with a 1.5% BT fee) and $0 first year annual fee. Plus a 12.49% p.a. purchase interest rate.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Purchase rate Balance transfer rate Annual fee Min credit limit Max credit limit Minimum income
BankSA Amplify Platinum
0% for 7 months, reverts to 19.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 22 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
$0 annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
$6,000
$80,000
Save with a 0% p.a. for up to 22 months on balance transfers and up to 7 months on purchases. Plus a $0 first-year annual fee.
St.George Vertigo Platinum
0% for 15 months, reverts to 12.99% p.a.
6.99% p.a. for 12 months
$49 annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
$6,000
$80,000
Features an introductory 0% p.a. purchase rate, $49 first year annual fee and complimentary travel insurance covers.
Bank of Melbourne Amplify Signature
19.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 6 months
$139 annual fee for the first year ($279 p.a. thereafter)
$15,000
$80,000
Up to 200,000 bonus points (130k in the first year & 70k in the second year) when you spend $12k/year for the first 2 years.
St.George Vertigo Classic
0% for 7 months, reverts to 13.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 22 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
$0 annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
$500
$80,000
Get 0% p.a. promotional purchase and balance transfer rates and save with a first-year annual fee waiver.
BankSA Vertigo
0% for 7 months, reverts to 13.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 22 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
$0 annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
$500
$80,000
Enjoy a 0% p.a. for up to 22 months on balance transfers and up to 7 months on purchases. Plus, $0 first-year annual fee.
BankSA Amplify Signature
19.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 6 months
$139 annual fee for the first year ($279 p.a. thereafter)
$15,000
$80,000
Up to 200,000 bonus points (130k in the first year & 70k in the second year) when you spend $12k/year for the first 2 years.
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Classic
0% for 7 months, reverts to 13.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 22 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
$0 annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
$500
$80,000
Save with 0% p.a. for 7 months on purchases, 0% p.a. interest for 22 months on balance transfers and a $0 first-year annual fee.
St.George Vertigo Classic Rainbow
0% for 7 months, reverts to 13.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 22 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
$0 annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
$500
$80,000
All the great low cost features of the Vertigo Visa with a rainbow design in support of the LGBT community.
St.George Rainbow Vertigo Platinum
0% for 15 months, reverts to 12.99% p.a.
6.99% p.a. for 12 months
$49 annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
$6,000
$80,000
All the platinum features of the Vertigo Platinum Visa with a rainbow design in support of the LGBT community.
BankSA No Annual Fee
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$0
$500
$40,000
Offers 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 12 months, up to 55 days interest-free on purchases and an ongoing $0 annual fee.
St.George No Annual Fee
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$0
$500
$40,000
Receive up to 55 days interest-free on purchases, a low minimum credit limit of $500 and a long-term balance transfer offer.
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Compare up to 4 providers

If you've filed for bankruptcy, there are a few different strategies you can consider to get your finances back on track. Build up your savings and pay your accounts on time. If you've been discharged from bankruptcy, you should only apply for a credit card or other credit products once you've taken the time to improve your score.

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140 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    BrockSeptember 28, 2018

    Once all defaults are removed from my credit file (after 5 years) can they still appear on my credit report when applying for finance/credit? Or are they completely gone after 5 years?

    • Default Gravatar
      JoelSeptember 28, 2018

      Hi Brock,

      Thanks for leaving a question on finder.

      When a default is recorded on your credit report, it remains there for five years. During those five years, potential lenders may look unfavourably on your credit application, as the default indicates you have failed to pay off a debt in the past. Defaults will only stay in your file for 5 years. After that period when you will get your credit report, it will no longer show up.

      Please send me a message if you need anything else. :)

      Cheers,
      Joel

  2. Default Gravatar
    TaraApril 23, 2018

    I was discharged from bankruptcy in 2012. Since then I have bought a house and have a credit card but no credit score as it says its still on my record, it shouldn’t be. Who do I speak to?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniApril 23, 2018Staff

      Hi Tara,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      Your name will be on the National Personal Insolvency Index (NPII) permanently, with a record of how your bankruptcy was resolved. It will also be listed on your credit history for up to five years, or longer depending on the circumstances.

      To repair your credit rating, you may seek professional help from a credit repair specialist. There are a number of credit repair agencies that claim they can improve your credit report. These ‘credit fix’ or ‘debt solution’ companies may advise you on your credit file and act on your behalf to challenge any incorrect listings on your credit history but may not be able to do much to actually fix your credit file after bankruptcy.

      I hope this helps.

      Have a great day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

  3. Default Gravatar
    DanielSeptember 26, 2017

    What is my credit score.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JudithSeptember 27, 2017Staff

      Hi Daniel,

      Thanks for contacting finder, an Australian comparison website and general information service.

      Just scroll down on this page and click the orange button “Get my free score.”

      I hope this helps.

      Regards,
      Judith

  4. Default Gravatar
    sonyaFebruary 10, 2017

    I declared bankruptcy 6 years ago, how do i go about getting my name cleared so i can get credit for things like a mobile phone?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      DeeFebruary 17, 2017Staff

      Hi Sonya,

      Thanks for your question.

      If you enter into bankruptcy it will be removed from your credit file two years from the date you’re discharged or five years from the date you became bankrupt, whichever is later.

      In the meantime, you may check this page for more information how to improve your credit score.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

  5. Default Gravatar
    JoshSeptember 5, 2016

    Hi just wondering i am newly discharged from bankruptcy and i was hoping to get a credit card as i have a family and would love to have something there for emergency. Which credit cards may i be able to get or were might give me the best chance

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      ArraSeptember 20, 2016Staff

      Hi Josh,

      Thanks for your question.

      Please note that finder.com.au is an online comparison service and is not in a position to recommend specific products, providers and services.

      To help you get back on track from bankruptcy and improve your chance of credit card approval in the future, you might want to check “What types of credit cards can I get after bankruptcy?” and compare your options from the comparison tables following that section on this page.

      I hope this has helped.

      Cheers,
      Arra

  6. Default Gravatar
    JimAugust 15, 2016

    Hello

    My question is. Just wondering if it is possible to negotiate to re-pay my debt now I have a secure and full time employment is this possible and would this action clear the slate.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MayAugust 15, 2016Staff

      Hi Jim,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Just to confirm, have you declared bankruptcy before? If so, a careful planning to repair your credit and financial health is indeed important. Repaying your previous debts is just one of the ways to start the repair. You may like to read our article about how to get your life back after bankruptcy, which you may find our tips useful.

      Cheers,
      May

  7. Default Gravatar
    RoniMay 5, 2016

    Hi
    I had a bad debt from a couple of service provider due to my financial situation back in 2011 and I’m willing to repay them but I was wondering even if I repay them, will the record still be on the file to apply for the loan from the bank to start up my own business? Any advice and suggestion would be appreciated.

    Many thanks.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MayMay 6, 2016Staff

      Hi Roni,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      Most lenders will check your credit file when you apply for a new line of credit, say you apply for a loan for your business. Therefore, it is wise and important that you make your credit file healthy and in good standing to be assured of approval for your loan application. Since you have mentioned that you have had a bad credit history, you’d be best if you settle your previous debt first by making on-time repayments.

      Keep in mind though that your credit file will hold your repayment history information for 2 years. Credit enquiries, overdue accounts as clearouts and defaults and also court judgements remain on your file for five years. Meanwhile, overdue accounts listed as serious credit infringements remain on your file for seven years.

      Cheers,
      May

  8. Default Gravatar
    joeApril 18, 2016

    I went bankrupt about 8 years ago, I just wanted to be able to get a loan. How do I get back on my feet with this or it is not possible ever again?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MayApril 18, 2016Staff

      Hi Joe,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      Once you get out of bankruptcy, you’d be best if you learn how to manage your new spending habits and handle your finances carefully. On this page, you can find invaluable information and tips on getting your life back again after dealing and declaring personal bankruptcy.

      I hope this is helpful.

      Cheers,
      May

  9. Default Gravatar
    Jeanniew46@hotmail.comMarch 1, 2016

    If I have a credit card debt that I cannot pay can they take my car of me ? it is 6 years old and I owe it out right.
    Many thanks.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JonathanMarch 2, 2016Staff

      Hi Jeannie, thanks for your inquiry!

      If your debt is significant, there is no stopping a card issuer from initiating proceedings to repossess some of your assets or even push you towards bankruptcy. You may like to consider transferring your existing credit card debt to a balance transfer credit card and repay your debt with 0% interest.

      Cheers,

      Jonathan

  10. Default Gravatar
    steveFebruary 22, 2016

    Hi there, was discharged from bankruptcy on 26/3/2014. does that mean that after the 26/3/16 bankruptcy will be off m,y credit report? i am looking to re finance home loan for better rate with mainstream lender (bank) will i have a better chance then.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JonathanFebruary 23, 2016Staff

      Hi Steve, thank for your inquiry!

      The bankruptcy listing remains on your credit file for two years from the annulment date, or five years from the beginning of the bankruptcy – whichever comes later. You may like to refer to our guide on improving your credit score here.

      Cheers,

      Jonathan

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