Frequently asked credit score questions
Q: Are credit scores FREE?
A: Unlike credit reports, consumers are not automatically entitled to see credit scores for free every 12 months. You can, however, see them for free on the following websites:
Each of the websites has a relationship with a particular credit reporting body, and gives you a free score created by that business.
Q: Which credit score matters?
A: The credit score that matters most is the one your next potential credit provider looks at. It might be a score from one of the credit reporting bodies. It might be an industry-specific score, or it could be a unique score created by the credit provider that is unique to their business.
Q: Who calculates credit scores?
A: Credit scores are calculated by the big three national credit reporting bodies—Experian, Equifax & Illion. The credit provider that you apply to may use the credit score calculated by one of the credit reporting bodies, or they may create their own. These calculations are determined by algorithms used to turn information in credit reports into a number.
Q: When do credit scores update?
A: On any given day of the month, a credit provider could send new credit information to one or all of the credit reporting bodies. As soon as the credit reporting bodies update your credit report accordingly, expect that new information to be calculated into your credit score. This means there is no specific day when credit scores get updated; theoretically, they can update daily.
Q: What credit scores are good and bad?
A: Generally, the higher your score, the better. Every credit provider judges a credit score based on its own internal system and affordability and application risk rules.
Q: Is the credit score the only thing looked at by credit providers?
A: No – credit providers like banks, credit unions and finance companies will look at your credit score, but they’ll also look at whether you can afford to repay the loan by considering your current income and expenses, including existing loan repayments. This is known as an affordability assessment. If the credit provider doesn’t think that you can afford to pay the loan back, they won’t approve you even if your credit score is high.
In addition, credit providers may also have rules about the types of loans they’re prepared to give. For example, if you are borrowing to buy a house, the credit provider will want to make sure the property being bought satisfies their rules (e.g. it’s not too small; it’s located in an acceptable area etc).