Most Australian adults will look to borrow money or buy something on credit every so often.
Whether it is a loan to buy a house, a credit card with which to earn points or a new mobile phone on a postpaid contract, a credit provider will probably want to access your credit report to decide whether you are creditworthy.
Credit providers assess your credit health based on things like income and expenses plus how well you manage your debts. You can keep your credit health strong by making your debt repayments on time and by the due date. Keeping a healthy credit report will make you look better to a credit provider the next time you need to borrow money or buy something on credit.
Everyone has a right to access their credit report for free, once a year, from each credit reporting body. This gives you the opportunity to see what the credit providers are seeing when you apply for credit.
Your credit report contains raw data about your credit history. This credit report data may be condensed by a credit reporting body into a single number called a credit score. This is an indicator of your credit health and can be used to compare you to other borrowers.
When you apply for credit, the credit provider will usually get your credit report so it’s important to know what your credit report says about the way in which you manage your credit health.
How to improve your credit health:
Pay your credit card bills and loan repayments on time
Check your credit report so you know if there are any issues
Don’t borrow more than you can handle.
If there are any errors in your credit report, you can get them fixed for free. If you think something is wrong, you can ask any credit provider or credit reporting body for help to fix that error so long as they hold credit information about you.
Here are some tips to help you maintain a healthy credit report:
- TIP 1: Know what’s on your credit report. You have a right to a free copy of your credit report each year from each credit reporting body.
- TIP 2: Keep track of your credit score as a quick snapshot to track activity on your credit report.
- TIP 3: Fill out credit applications fully. Much of what’s on your credit report comes from you, when you fill out applications. If you don’t fill out the applications properly it can make it harder for credit providers to get a proper credit report about you.
- TIP 4: Don’t let forgetfulness make you miss payments. Set up automatic payments i.e. direct debit to make sure your minimum payments are made on time.
- TIP 5: Talk to your credit provider if you are struggling to make payments. Many lenders must work with you if you tell them that you are struggling with your repayments.
- TIP 6: Keep your details up to date. If you change your address without informing a credit provider, you might not know that you owe them money and it could end up as a default on your credit report.
- TIP 7: Be sensible with credit. Only borrow what you need and use credit wisely. If you have too much credit, it could make it harder for you to get credit for what you really need.
- TIP 8: Fix errors for free on your credit report. If you think something is wrong, you can ask any credit provider or credit reporting body for help to fix that error so long as they hold credit information about you.
For more information, please go to OAIC – Credit Reporting