If you’ve never taken a moment of your day to check your credit score, then it’s time to find a little bit of free time. Read on as Monzi explains all you need to know about credit scores and reports. Let’s go.
Please note, certain ideas and products presented in this article may not be offered by Monzi nor the lenders we work with. This article presents only general information. Consider seeking professional financial, taxation, legal or other advice to check how the information and ideas presented on this website relate to your unique circumstances.
Check your credit score: what does it mean?
Credit score maintenance is essential to your financial future. This is because your credit score influences your reliability when it comes to applying for a loan. If your score is too low, then lenders will likely be hesitant to offer you a fast loan given that you will be a risk.
As a result, regularly checking your score and credit report can be one of the most fundamental keys to financial success. Best of all, it’s as easy as can be.
What is a credit score?
A credit score is a ranking that represents your relationship with borrowing and repaying credit. Depending on the credit reporting agency that you enlist to calculate your file, your credit score will be somewhere between zero and 1,000, or zero and 1,200. This score will then correlate with a five-point ranking system; below average, average, good, very good, and excellent.
Multiple agencies can generate your free credit score or report. However, there are two dominant agencies that many Australian’s utilise – Equifax and Experian.
|Excellent||800 – 1,000||833 – 1,200|
|Very good||700 – 799||726 – 832|
|Good||625 – 699||622 – 725|
|Average||550 – 624||510 – 621|
|Below average||0 – 549||0 – 509|
What is a good credit score?
A good credit score is anything that aligns with the ‘good’ credit ranking or higher. As stated, the actual score itself is dependent on which reporting agency you choose to generate your report. However, by using the respective scales shown above, you can efficiently work out how worthy your credit score makes you.
What is on your credit report?
There are four categories of information listed on credit reports – personally identifiable information (PII), credit accounts, credit inquiries, and public record and collection. Further information on the specifics of these categories is listed below.
Personally identifiable information (PII)
PII includes your name, date of birth, address and employment information. In addition to this, other relevant personal details may be listed.
This information involves the details of every account you have opened for credit (e.g. instant loans). More specifically, the type of account, the date it was opened, the account balance, your payment history, and your loan amount or credit limit.
Inquiries appear when you request a loan. So, upon applying for a loan, you are authorising the lender to ask for a copy of your credit report. Moreover, any requests for new cards are also visible on your file.
Public record and collection
A Credit Bureau will also collect information from public records and courts. As a result, any criminal record, including bankruptcies, can appear on your report.
How is your score calculated?
Credit scores are a culmination of all the information listed on your credit report, particularly:
- Personal details
- The amount of credit you have borrowed
- The credit providers you have used
- All unpaid or overdue credit
- How many applications you have made – successful or not
You are essentially making your credit score a form of highlight reel of your credit report, condensing all this information into a number.
How do you check your credit score?
You can check your credit score for free by going through one of the leading reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, etc.). Once you pick your agency and request a copy of your credit file, you must then provide the following information.
- A contact number
- A previous address
- Your full name
- Your date of birth
- Previous employer’s details
- Your driver’s license OR passport OR birth certificate
- Proof of name and address (i.e. a bank statement)
How long it takes you to receive your credit report is dependent on whether you choose to have it sent to you via post or email address. So, allow up to ten days to receive your report.
Does getting a copy of your credit report hurt your score?
No, requesting a free copy of your credit report will not have any impact on your score. In other words, checking your report is not a credit enquiry. You are entitled to a free credit report every 12 months. However, if you require more than one credit report from one of the principal agencies in a year, you will have to pay for the excess.
Why should you check your credit score?
Your credit report plays a significant role in a lender’s decision-making process. In other words, your credit score is a numerical indicator of whether or not you are a worthy recipient of credit.
A lender’s decision regarding whose applications they accept is based heavily around reliability. If your credit report shows that you have a low score, then this depicts you as a possible liability to a lender. Therefore, checking your credit score frequently allows you to maintain or work towards an ideal credit score. In addition to this, it also ensures that no incorrect listings on your report go unnoticed.
What bills impact my credit score?
Whilst failing to pay bills will eventually impact your credit score, this is not immediate. Neither is a late utility bill or an unpaid phone bill. This is because these bills are the concern of individual businesses, not credit reporting agencies. These unpaid bills only become defaults when they have gone beyond the short-term and have been unpaid for 60 days or longer.
In addition to this, be aware that your landlord may also report you if you develop a track record of missing rent payments.
So, to reiterate, whether or not these bills end up on your report, depends on how long your repayments take, and whether or not this is a recurring event.
Check your credit score: dealing with incorrect listings
Another important reason for checking in on your credit report is that there can be errors, or incorrect listings, accidentally showing. Mistakes can include information that is:
- Out-of-date or irrelevant – depending on the listing, it should only remain on your report for a set amount of time. If this time has concluded and the listing is still showing, then you should address it.
- Incomplete – your details may be listed wrongly. These details should be updated as soon as possible.
- Inaccurate or misleading – perhaps you’ve paid off a debt, and that debt is showing as unpaid.
- Other severities – the creation of an account through identity theft is possible. So, make sure all the information on your file is from your actions.
Whilst inconvenient, small mistakes like these can impact your credit score negatively. To have these details fixed, you must get in contact with your credit provider. They will then contact the reporting agency and have the changes made, provided they agree there is an issue.
How do you dispute an incorrect listing?
Occasionally, you may find what you believe to be an incorrect listing, only to get in contact with your credit provider and have them disagree. If you are confident that the information is wrong even after your credit provider has opposed it, you may need to take your dispute further up the line.
The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA), assists with settling dispute claims. After lodging your complaint with them, they should be able to reach an agreement between both parties. Keep in mind that you may be in the wrong when placing your claim. It is also vital to ensure that you fit AFCA’s criteria before utilising their free service.
How long does information remain on your report?
Depending on the kind of data you have listed on your report, the best method available for improving your score is time. The length of time data stays visible on your report is dependent on the data in question. Below is a list of the information that can show on your file, and the particular time it remains.
Credit accounts – two years
Any accounts you open will stay visible on your credit report up until two years after the account has been closed. This is one element that lenders consider when you apply for a loan.
Repayment history – two years
Your repayment history displays for 24 months for each account you have open. This information is also key to your lender’s evaluation as it allows them to get an understanding of your reliability as a borrower.
Court judgement – five years
Any court decision that requires you to pay what you owe to your provider – fees, interest, or loans charges – will remain for five years from the judgement date.
Defaults – five years
Defaults are any failures to repay debts. However, even if you repay your debt, the fact that you did not initially repay on time will be displayed for five years. Your reporting agency should update the debt as paid once you have done so.
Enquiries – five years
Regardless of whether it is successful or not, any application for credit or a credit card/account will display for five years. How heavily this impacts your lender’s decision is dependent on how frequently you place requests. In other words, multiple credit applications in a short space of time may impact your ability to access online loans and other forms of credit.
Bankruptcies – a minimum of five years
Personal insolvencies such as debt agreements and bankruptcies will remain for a five-year minimum. Whether or not these insolvencies stay visible for longer depends on their severity.
Serious credit infringement – seven years
Fraudulently obtaining credit, or ceasing repayments without contacting your provider for six months, will result in a serious credit infringement. This sort of infringement has a lifespan of seven years. However, if you pay off the infringement, it will be reduced to a default, meaning it will be visible for five years.
Check your credit score: what is credit repair?
Credit repair is the process of improving on an unsavoury credit score. Repairing your credit will increase your creditworthiness in the eyes of lenders. You know your credit needs fixing if your score is less than 500. Checking your credit allows you to identify why your score may be low. The most common causes are:
- Defaults – debt that has been outstanding for longer than 60 days.
- Frequent credit applications – specifically denied applications.
Read on to find out how you can repair your credit.
How is credit repair done?
You can repair your credit yourself through planning and budgeting, or you can employ the services of a credit repair agency if you need a helping hand. If you do not wish to pay for credit repair help, then there are six steps you can take to improve your credit yourself.
Step 1: don’t apply for unnecessary credit
Multiple inquiries for credit do not look good from a lender’s perspective, this includes cash loan applications and applications for credit cards. Too much available credit also allows you to put yourself in even more debt than you may currently be in. The best way to avoid overspending is not to give yourself the means.
Step 2: pay your bills on time
Lenders love to see reliability. The best way you can show a lender that you’re reliable is to meet your repayment obligations and deadlines. Not only repaying credit, but also managing your rent, utilities, and possibly phone bills.
Step 3: lower your credit card limits
Lowering the limit of credit you can use on your cards will reduce the likelihood of extensive debt, and the chances of defaults appearing on your report.
Step 4: pay off your debts
Speaking of debt, ensure you pay it off. Your credit score cannot improve while unpaid debt still stands.
Step 5: dispute credit file inaccuracies
As previously mentioned, dispute your inaccuracies. They could be leading to an unnecessarily damaged score.
Step 6: maintain your credit file
Finally, check your credit score and report regularly. Make sure it is where you want it. Being proactive will save you from needing to repair your score continually.
Check your credit score: credit repair agencies
If you’re struggling with your credit repair, you may like to employ the aid of a credit repair agency. A reliable agency will have an Australian Credit License. Ensure the agency you choose is legitimate and not a scammer before applying.
Once you apply for aid, this agency will walk you through what needs to be done to re-establish good credit. They will request a copy of your credit report and assess this credit information. They will then negotiate any incorrect details on your report on your behalf, and create spending and repayment plans to get you back on track.
How long does it take to repair your credit?
Time is the best tool for credit repair. How long it takes for you credit to completely recover is dependent on what information is listed. If you have a serious credit infringement, then it is going to take up to seven years for this information to disappear. If you only have defaults or debt settlements, then it may only take five years. In other words, patience is a virtue. So, take proactive steps to maintain a positive credit score in the meantime.
Advantages of credit repair agencies
- Faster process – filing a dispute yourself, may take much longer than it would take a repair agent. If you have the funds for a repair agent, then this may help speed up the process.
- Handy expertise – the expertise a credit repair agent can offer may be valuable to you. Repair agents work with credit reporters, banks, and lenders every day and may have connections that can benefit you.
- Better negotiation skills – if you need to dispute an aspect of your credit report, a credit repair agent who understands the industry, may be far more efficient at negotiating this dispute on your behalf.
Disadvantages of credit repair agencies
- Lack of control – employing one of these agencies will decrease your level of control over the process. The company will have their say on your spending habits and any additional money loans. If you prefer to be in control of your finances, this may be frustrating.
- Upfront fees – paying a repair agency for their services may be the last thing you need if you already have a lot of accumulated debt.
- Scams – there are companies in circulation that are seeking your upfront payment without providing any of the follow-up services. Make sure the agency you employ is legitimate.
Check your credit score: what is creditworthiness?
Creditworthiness equates to the amount of trust a lender has in your ability to repay your loans. Your creditworthiness evaluation examines how you’ve handled your debts and loan repayments in the past. Your credit score and your credit report get assessed, and your lender will gauge your credibility.
Suppose you have a high credit score and reasonably clean report. In this case, your creditworthiness will most likely be positive. On the other hand, a low score and defaults on your report or serious credit infringements will negatively impact your creditworthiness.
New to the financial world? Give yourself the best start
A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t afford to buy it twice, you can’t afford it. Carry pieces of advice like this with you when spending. It may help you develop good habits early which you can build on in future.
What credit score do you need for large loans?
If it is a home loan, or a car loan, that you are seeking, then it is essential to check your credit score. Generally, to be approved for one of these loans, your score must be in the good-excellent range. This means somewhere between 622 – 1,200. These types of loans are generally granted by big banks (major lenders) and processed by mortgage brokers.
If your credit score is below the good-excellent range, it may be worth considering credit repair, to raise your score and increase your chances of a successful home or car loan application.
Can you get a loan with a bad score?
If you have applied for a home or car loan and been denied, you identify as non-conforming to the ‘prime’ loan criteria. Applications usually become non-conforming for the following reasons:
- You’re nearing retirement
- You have a poor credit history
- Your income is non-standard
- Your deposit is an inheritance or gift
- You don’t have much of a deposit
- You are self-employed and cannot yet show proof of income.
In any case, if you’re after a loan for bad credit then there is some good news. If you apply with Monzi, we may be able to pair you with one of the many lenders that we know who might consider bad credit applicants. In other words, a subpar credit score may not always stand in your way of accessing the quick easy loans you need.
Personal loans and Monzi
If you’re after a small loan or loan of up to $10,000, Monzi may be able to find a lender for you. We are a lender-finder service and, provided you meet the below criteria; we may be able to match you to a lender who may be willing to approve your loan. As long as you are:
- An Australian citizen or permanent resident.
- Over the age of 18.
- Have an active mobile number and email address.
- Have been receiving a regular income for three consecutive months.
If you can tick all of these boxes, then Monzi is ready to help. You just need to decide whether you want a small, medium or large loan.
Loans of all shapes and sizes
At Monzi, we work with lenders who may offer instant cash loans from $300 to $10,000. However, with such a wide range of loans on offer, they won’t all come with the same terms. To clarify, lenders typically divide online personal loans into three categories: small loans, medium loans and large loans.
Firstly, small loans may be offered from $300 to $2,000. These are unsecured loans and will usually be repaid within 12 months.
In addition to this, lenders may offer medium loans from $2,001 to $4,600 or large personal loans from $5,000 to $10,000 which may be repaid over a period of between 13 and 24 months. However, note that these loans must be secured by an asset (e.g. you car).
Finally, keep in mind that lenders may vary in their terms. The actual terms of your cash loan may not reflect the loan that you apply for. As a result, you must check your eligibility before applying.
Check your credit score and Monzi
Please keep in mind that Monzi is a lender-finder service only and does not possess credit repair capabilities. Moreover, we cannot check your credit score for you. Instead, in this page, we have attempted to provide you with basic knowledge about the importance of checking your credit scores and repairing credit.
For more information on your situation, it may be helpful to seek the aid of a financial counsellor. It may be helpful for you to contact the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007, to speak with a free financial counsellor.
For more information on all things credit score related, visit the Australian Government’s Moneysmart website.
To learn more about Monzi and our services, make sure you check out our FAQs. If your question is not on the frequently asked questions page, then please get in contact with our friendly team at firstname.lastname@example.org. For something different, why not check out our guide explaining how to buy shares.