Credit Scores, Credit Files, and Credit Reports… What’s the difference?

Last updated: 10 April 2015

A quick search on Google will show you that no-one in Australia can give you a simple explanation of credit scores, credit files and credit reports.

A common mistake people make is using the words interchangeably. It’s important you know the key differences, so you know what to look out for in each one.

So, I’m going to give you the low-down, right here in less time than it takes to make your coffee.

Let’s get started:



A credit file sits at the top of the hierarchy with the most comprehensive amount of data about your credit history. This information is held by what is known as a credit bureau or a credit reporting body – the information itself is actually quite boring and complex, but it’s more for the credit providers who need to make a decision about whether they are going to approve you for a loan and how much interest they are going to charge you. It’s kind of hard to make sense of it all, so they have automated systems and algorithms to analyse your credit file.



Credit reporting bodies extract and populate the relevant information from your credit file into a standard reporting template known as a credit report. This way the formatted information can be read by a person with no prior credit reporting experience. You are entitled to one free report per year with each credit reporting body and it’s a good idea that you request it to check for the details (especially any mistakes that might bring down your score).



Credit reporting bodies often summarise the information in your credit file into a number known as a credit score. So the easiest way to track your credit reputation, month in and month out, is simply to monitor your score. This can be done via a credit score monitoring service like Credit Savvy. Basically, with your permission, these services source your credit file information and your credit score from the credit reporting body for you every month and the really good services help you understand what everything means.

Tracking your credit score is important as it will change from time to time as the information in your credit file changes. As information is added or removed from your credit file, your credit history and risk profile will change and as this happens, your credit score will be recalculated to reflect these changes. Depending on what information is added or removed, your credit score may go up or down.