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How Australia and other countries score credit

How do credit scores work in Australia, the USA and other countries around the world?

Does Australia have credit scores?

Yes, credit scores are widely used in Australia. If you've ever applied for a loan or other form of credit, a credit file will have been created in your name, which is then used to calculate your credit score.

Do credit scores matter in Australia?

Yes, your credit score is an important measure of your overall financial health in Australia. It's also used by lenders to determine your suitability for things like loans, credit cards and even phone plans.

While you don't necessarily "need" a credit score in Australia, having no credit history might make you ineligible for certain loans, credit cards or other financial products.

How do credit scores work in Australia?

When you apply for a home loan, personal loan, credit card or other form of credit in Australia, the lender will check your credit score and request a copy of your credit report from a credit reporting agency before deciding whether to approve you.

There are 3 major credit reporting agencies in Australia, Experian, Equifax and Illion, that collect your financial information and collate it into a credit report.

Some of those bureaus also use the data they collect to create your credit score. However, as each credit reporting agency collects financial information differently, each one has its own system for determining your credit score.

This data can include the following details:

  • The age of your credit file
  • The type and amount of credit you have applied for in the past
  • Any negative credit listings
  • Court writs or default judgments
  • Your repayment history on credit accounts
  • What accounts you have opened and closed

Up until March 2014, credit reporting in Australia only used negative reporting. However, the introduction of positive or comprehensive credit reporting means lenders now make a more balanced assessment of your borrowing history by accessing information about your current accounts and your history of making on-time repayments.

You can check your credit score by requesting this information from one of Australia’s credit reporting agencies. Depending on the agency, this may be free or may attract a fee. You can also check your credit score for free with Finder.

Do you have an international credit score?

Simply put, no. There's no such thing as a universal credit score and you'll only have a score in a country that you have a history of credit in. Your credit score in one country will also not carry over to another country when you move.

So if you emigrate to Australia, you'll have to first establish a credit history here before getting a credit score.

How do credit scores work in the USA?

There are three national credit bureaus that handle credit reporting in the USA: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. The country’s comprehensive credit reporting system ensures that your positive and negative financial history is included, with on-time payments reported alongside judgments and bankruptcies.

The agencies use this data to create your FICO score, which was introduced in 1989 by the Fair Isaac Corporation. The score is calculated based on the following components:

  • Payment history. This makes up 35% of your score and examines whether you have made your past credit payments on time.
  • Amount owed. This makes up 30% of your score and includes your credit card debt to limit ratio, number of credit cards and amount owed.
  • Length of credit history. This makes up 15% of your score. A longer credit history will generally result in a higher FICO Score.
  • New credit. This makes up 10% of your score and examines how many times you have applied for new credit in the past three to six months.
  • Credit mix. The makes up 10% of your score and takes into account your mix of credit cards, retail accounts, mortgages and other loans.

The vast majority of banks and credit providers use the FICO system to generate a score between 300 and 850. Anything above 720 is considered to be an excellent score. In April 2016, the average national credit score in the USA reached 699, an all-time high record.

The three credit reporting agencies collect information differently, so FICO scores can vary depending on which bureau provides the information used to calculate the score.

How do credit scores work in the UK?

Just like the USA, the UK has three main credit reporting agencies: TransUnion (formerly Callcredit), Equifax and Experian. They also collect financial data in line with a comprehensive credit reporting system, ensuring that positive borrowing information, such as making repayments on time and in full, is included alongside any black marks.

However, each agency uses its own scoring system to develop your credit score:

  • Experian. The Experian Credit Score runs from 0-999, with anything above 881 considered good and 961 or above excellent.
  • Equifax. Equifax scores range from 0-710, with scores of 467 and above classed as excellent.
  • TransUnion. TransUnion generates scores ranging from 0-710, where 604-627 is considered good and 628 or above is excellent.

With this in mind, your borrowing power in the UK varies depending on the reporting agency and also on each individual credit provider’s lending criteria.

How do credit scores work in Canada?

Canada has two main credit reporting agencies that collect and assess your financial information: Equifax of Canada Inc. and TransUnion Canada. Canadian credit reports contain information about every loan you’ve taken out in the past six years, including how much you owe, whether you make your repayments on time, and the credit limit on each account.

Credit scores in Canada range from 300 up to 900. The formula the credit reporting bureaus use to calculate your score is secret, but 27% of the population has a score between 750 and 799.

According to TransUnion, 650 is an important credit score to keep in mind. Score less than this and you may have trouble having credit applications approved, but score more and you should be able to qualify for a standard loan.

How do credit scores work in India?

The government of India and the Reserve Bank of India created the Credit Bureau Information India (CIBIL) in 2000 to collect records of each individual’s loan and credit card payments. It has since partnered with TransUnion and collates information on home loans, car loans, personal loans and credit cards to generate a score between 300 and 900.

The CIBIL takes into account positive information when calculating your score, including a month-by-month record of your loan payments for up to three years. The agency reports that 79% of approved loans go to people with a CIBIL TransUnion score of 750 or more.

However, several other private agencies have also emerged in more recent times, including Equifax India, Experian India and Highmark each of which has its own scoring system.

Want a better way to check your credit score?

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4 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    SanthoshApril 1, 2018

    Hi I am planning to apply a mortgage loan in India, Just a Salk doubt that will that reflect in Australia credit file ???

      Default Gravatar
      JoelApril 1, 2018

      Hi Santosh,

      Thanks for leaving a question on finder.

      Applying for a loan abroad will not affect your credit score. Even a country who has a highly sophisticated banking and credit system will not have the systems to thoroughly investigate a potential client’s credit history in Australia. Therefore, applying for a loan from a different country will not affect your AU credit score.

      Cheers,
      Joel

      Default Gravatar
      SanthoshApril 1, 2018

      Thanks a lot for the reply Joel. But the equifax and the rest of credit providers also have there branches through out the world. So if the Indian bank open my credit file with equifax in India, You reckon the Australian banks will not know that I had a loan in India??

      AvatarFinder
      MayApril 2, 2018Finder

      Hi Santosh,

      Thanks for your question.

      Yes, the credit agencies do not share credit reports from country to country. So even if an agency has a branch in other countries, they will not be able to see your credit history from that country. For instance in your case, your records in India will remain only in India, that is same is true in Australia if you have credit history in Australia.

      Cheers,
      May

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