5 questions about credit scores you were too embarrassed to ask
The finer details of Australia’s credit reporting system may not be everyone’s cup of tea, so we’re here to answer a few questions you might not have gotten around to asking (or felt comfortable enough to!).
WHY DO OLD APPLICATIONS FOR CREDIT SHOW UP ON MY CREDIT REPORT?
Credit providers like banks and credit unions may choose to do a credit check when you apply for a credit product with them to assess the risk of lending to you. When they do this, a ‘credit enquiry’ is recorded on your credit file.
These credit enquiries stay on your credit file for five years. Even if you never took the product out in the end, or if you paid it off or deactivated it, the enquiry will remain on your credit file and potentially affect your credit score. That’s why we encourage everyone to only apply for a product if they’ve done their homework and are sure it meets their requirements.
WHEN WILL THIS DEFAULT BE REMOVED FROM MY CREDIT REPORT?
Have you defaulted on a payment a few years ago while you were in a tough financial spot? If you’re wondering how long the default will stay on your credit file, the answer is five years, even after the amount has been repaid.
WILL CHECKING MY CREDIT SCORE HURT IT?
No, checking your own credit score does not reduce your score. There are two types of credit enquiries – hard and soft. When a lender checks your credit score, the enquiry is known as a hard enquiry. When you check your credit score with Credit Savvy, this is known as a soft enquiry and does not affect your credit score.
I’VE ALWAYS PAID MY BILLS ON TIME – WHY ISN’T MY SCORE HIGHER?
Historically, credit reporting bodies in Australia have not had access to your repayment history or balances, so they haven’t been able to take this into account.
Now, the credit landscape is beginning to change with the introduction of Comprehensive Credit Reporting. This will allow for a more complete picture of your credit history to be recorded, with greater focus on rewarding good behaviour like paying your bills on time.
It’s important to remember that we’re still in a transition period and it will take some time to filter through. In the meantime, there are a number of things you can do to help improve your credit score.
WHAT CAN I DO WITH A GREAT CREDIT SCORE?
Having a great credit score indicates to lenders that you have a history of responsible credit behaviour and should be less risky to lend to than someone with a lower score. This can improve your chances of approval for credit products.
There are a growing number of products available that reward you with a better interest rate based on your credit score, especially in the personal loan space. RateSetter and SocietyOne are just some of the providers that offer credit products with more competitive rates for higher credit scores.