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If you’ve been wondering ‘what is my credit score?’ and what it actually does, you’re not alone. For many Aussies, a credit score represents an elusive and confusing bit of data that they think is only accessible by banks or other financial institutions or lenders.
Understanding ‘what is my credit score’ and how it can impact your borrowing capacity is one of the most important parts of personal finance – and surprisingly easy. If you’re looking to borrow money – whether through a car, home, or personal loan – or perhaps take out a credit card, it’s important to have a good understanding of your credit record (and how you can access it for free and make it work for you) before you apply.
Simply put, your credit score is a numerical reflection of your borrowing habits and repayment behaviours. It allows lenders to quickly assess the level of risk associated with lending you money or allowing you to open a credit card by using a ranked system.
Your credit report documents how many different types of credit you’ve applied for – such as loans or credit cards – the amount you applied for and when, the outcome of those applications, any debt you currently have, and your repayment history against those debts. This data is collected and assessed digitally and is how your credit score is calculated.
Your credit score is a number between 0 and 1,000 (or 1,200 depending on which credit reporting agency you use). The higher your credit score, the better chances you have of gaining approval for the credit you’re applying for, at a low interest rate. If your credit score is lower, you may be offered less credit than you’d hoped, be given a higher interest rate, or be declined outright.
As such, knowing the answer to ‘what is my credit score’, as well as ‘what is a good credit score’, well before you apply for credit is important to increasing your chances of success.
It’s a good idea to check credit rating periodically, to make sure your credit is in good health. Contrary to popular belief, you can do find out ‘what is my credit score’ anytime – and you don’t need to pay for it.
When you use our convenient calculator to check your credit score online, you’ll get a report containing full details of your credit history for the past two years from the date you requested the report, as well as your credit score. Using your free credit history, combined with your current financial status, you can assess whether you’re in a sensible position to apply for credit or if you would be better off spending some time improving your score.
It’s helpful to know that while your information is held for five years, the credit score check run by lenders will only reflect the last two years of your credit history. This is due to relatively recent changes in consumer credit reporting law, and we think those changes are great.
Previously, your credit report only showed negative behaviours (e.g., missed payments and any applications or enquiries). When you applied to lenders, they only saw the blemishes on your record – not the good you did with the credit you were awarded. These days, lenders are also privy to what are called positive credit behaviours – showing all those consistent, timely repayments you’ve made too. This gives a much clearer borrower profile and allows lenders to assess your current circumstances and not just make a decision based on a rough patch you might have gone through four years ago but are well past.
The more positive your credit behaviours, the higher your credit score – and the better chances you have of gaining approval for the credit you’re applying for. If you have a history of late payments or defaults (typically a payment that is more than two months late), or multiple open lines of credit, your credit score will be lower.
Understanding ‘what is my credit score’ has never been easier thanks to MoneyMe.
Having a good credit score is beneficial in many ways.
Primarily, the purpose of your financial score is to reflect the level of risk lenders are taking when they approve you for a loan or credit product. So the better your credit rating, the better you look to lenders like the bank or financial institution you’re seeking to borrow from – and the more likely you are to be approved.
Damaged credit can impact the outcome of your application in a few different ways. You might be declined outright or offered a lower loan amount at a higher interest rate than you were hoping for. In such instances, it’s important not to shop around and apply for multiple credit products within a short amount of time. This is because every time you make an application for a line of credit, it’s recorded on your credit file. Multiple loan or credit card applications within a short period can damage your credit score significantly.
It’s only natural to have experienced a few bumps in the road when it comes to your credit, and most lenders understand that. Whether it’s due to unexpected life circumstances, an accident, injury, or illness, or a global pandemic, most people have felt the pinch at one point or another. Missing financial deadlines is never a good feeling, but there are ways you can protect yourself – and learn how to improve credit score – under such circumstances.
One of the first and most important tips in understanding ‘what is my credit score’ and how to increase credit score is that if you do get stuck for repayments on any line of credit you may have, you contact your lender immediately to let them know and work out a payment plan or financial hardship arrangement.
It’s crucial to do this as soon as you realise you won’t be able to pay your bills on time. This is because when you miss a payment default on a line of credit, it gets recorded on your credit record and will remain there for five years. When you’re under a formal financial hardship arrangement or equivalent, the missed repayments don’t get recorded and won’t be added to or impact your credit score for the duration of the agreement.
The best way to improve your credit score is to demonstrate consistent, positive credit behaviours. You can do this by paying your bills and making repayments by their due date, reducing the lines of credit you are accessing (e.g., multiple ‘buy now, pay later’ accounts), avoiding payday loans, and not applying for multiple credit products within a short period. Closing any accounts you pay off is also a good way to improve credit.
To take control of your personal finance, understanding your credit score is essential.
What Is My Credit Score?
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*This comparison rate is based on an unsecured personal loan of $30,000 for a term of 5 years. WARNING: This comparison rate is true only for the examples given and may not include all fees and charges. Different terms, fees or other loan amounts might result in a different comparison rate. A $495 establishment fee and $10 monthly fee applies.