How do you check your credit score?

author-avatar By on February 06,2020
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How do you check your credit score?

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Take control of your finances and your borrowing power by checking your credit score and report.

Your credit report plays a big role in helping lenders decide if they should lend money to you because it contains your financial history. Lenders use this information, along with your credit score and other factors to assess your risk as a borrower.

Keeping tabs on this information is important because it could have a huge impact on your life, like whether you get approved for a home loan or miss out. Here’s how to check your credit score and credit report in Australia.

What is a credit report?

A credit report contains information about your credit history, such as how you have handled previous lines of credit (like loans), as well as any defaults or bankruptcies and inquiry information. Credit reports are used by lenders to help them decide whether to offer you a loan or not.

According to MoneySmart, a credit report contains the following:

  • Your personal details, such as your name, date of birth, address, employment, etc
  • Any credit or loans you’ve applied for
  • Any missed payments
  • Defaults within the last 60 days
  • Other credit infringements, such as leaving your last known address without paying a debt
  • Bankruptcies, court judgements and insolvency agreements, which can stay on your record for as long as seven years

As of September 2018, the major banks and credit providers have been including additional information about the credit products you hold on your credit report to give a more complete picture of your credit history. This comprehensive credit reporting includes information about:

  • The type of credit products you’ve held in the last two years
  • Your usual repayment amount
  • How often you make your repayments and if you make them on time

Your credit score is a numerical representation of the information in your credit report. Lenders look at this score to determine:

  • Whether you could afford to meet loan repayments
  • How much they’re willing to lend you for a home
  • What interest rate to charge you
  • What your credit limit should be on a credit card
  • Whether you should be approved or rejected for a loan or a credit card

Credit score chart

There are a few different credit reporting agencies in Australia which provide credit scores, such as Experian, Equifax and illion.

Each of these agencies separates their credit scores into five credit score bands. Scores from Equifax are between 0 and 1,200, scores from Experian are between 0 and 1,000 and scores from illion are between 1 and 1,000.

The higher your score, the better a borrower you are determined to be.

  • Excellent: Congrats! You're in the top 20% of borrowers. People with an ‘excellent’ score are seen as being highly unlikely to experience any adverse events that could harm their borrowing ability within the next 12 months.
  • Very good: Unlikely to experience any difficulty in meeting repayments.
  • Good: Missed repayments are seen as less likely to occur.
  • Fair: It’s seen as likely that an adverse event could occur which could impact repayments.
  • Weak: Ah, the dreaded bottom 20% of borrowers. Lenders view it as most likely an adverse event will occur like default or bankruptcy, in the next 12 months.

These five bands are then divided into different score ranges, which can vary depending on which credit reporting agency you go with. So what may be considered a ‘good’ score by one credit reporting agency could be considered ‘very poor’ by another. For example, a score of 539 is considered a ‘good’ score by illion, but falls into the ‘weak’ category for Experian.

 

illion

Experian

Equifax

Excellent

800 - 1,000

800 - 1,000

833 - 1,200

Very good

700 -799

700 - 799

726 - 832

Good

500 - 699

625 - 699

622 - 725

Fair

300 - 499

550 - 624

510 - 621

Weak

1 - 299

0 - 549

0 - 509

How do I check my credit score?

So how do you make sure you’re not in the dreaded bottom 20% of borrowers? For this article I decided to check my own credit score with each of the credit reporting bodies below to see how easy the process is (spoiler: it’s very easy).

You can check your credit score for free by using any of the major credit reporting bodies in Australia, like illion, Experian or Equifax.

It’s important to note that you could have a credit report with more than one reporting agency, so it’s a good idea to check with them all - particularly because credit reporting agencies use slightly different score ranges for each band.

wisr credit
Source: Wisr Credit

illion (Credit Simple)

illion allows you to check your credit score for free online just by entering your full name, date of birth, address and proof of identity documentation.

Big four bank NAB has partnered up with Credit Simple (a subsidiary of illion) to provide Australians with free credit checks - regardless of who they bank with.

Equifax (formerly known as My Credit File)

Equifax will give you a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months. Other circumstances in which you can access a free copy of your credit report are if you’ve been denied credit within the last 90 days or if you’ve had an error on your credit report corrected.

You can also sign up for monthly subscriptions with Equifax which offer more features and more frequent credit reports.

Experian

Experian will give you a free credit report by email or post within 10 days if you provide several forms of identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, Medicare card, utility bills, bank statements, lease agreement, etc.

Wisr Credit

Wisr is Australia’s first credit score comparison service that allows you to compare your credit score from all the major credit agencies like Equifax and Experian.

It’s free to find out your credit score - all you have to do is enter your details and your driver license number and you’re off!

How to fix mistakes in your credit report

When you get your credit report, it’s important to check everything is correct, like:

  • All the loans and debts that are listed are actually yours
  • Details such as your name, address, DOB, employment, etc are correct

If you notice that something is wrong or out of date (such as an old home address) contact the credit reporting agency and ask them to correct it. This is a free service.

Savings.com.au’s two cents

Even if you’re not looking to apply for a loan any time soon, it could still be a good idea to check your credit score at least once a year because it’s an important part of managing your personal finances.

Keeping tabs on your credit report is an important step in maintaining and rebuilding good credit so that when the time comes to apply for a loan, you’re already in good shape and stand a good chance at being approved.

Plus, checking your credit report and score is free in many cases and it takes about five seconds, so there’s really no reason not to.


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author-avatar
Emma joined Savings.com.au as a Finance Journalist in 2019. She is a journalist with more than five years experience across print, broadcast and digital media, with previous stints at Style Magazines, 4ZZZ radio, and as editor of The Real Estate Conversation. She's most passionate about improving the financial literacy of young women and millennials by writing about complex financial topics in a way that's easy for the average Joe (or Jill) to understand. When she's not writing about finance she's watching Greys Anatomy (again).

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