Below, we give a rundown of what a credit score is, why they can be different, and where to get a copy of your credit report.
What is a credit score?
Your credit score is a numerical indicator of how reliable you are at paying off debts. This number generally ranges from 0 to 1,200, with a higher credit score correlating to a higher level of reliability. Your credit score is used by lenders to calculate interest rates when considering you for a loan. It also allows them to assess potential risks that may arise if they were to lend you money.
Your credit score appears on your credit report, which is created any time you borrow money, such as home loans, credit cards, and energy bills. So, the more reliable you are at paying off those loans, the better your credit score will be and the more likely you are able to be approved for loans in the future.
There are three credit reporting bureaus in Australia that calculate your credit score: Equifax, Experian, and Illion. Since each credit reporting bureau uses their own methods to calculate your credit score, it is possible to have three different credit scores.
Why are my credit scores different?
Because Australia has three different credit reporting bureaus, it is possible for your credit scores to differ across each bureau. This is not always a bad thing, as there can be several contributing factors including rating scales, scoring models, and lender reporting. We give a rundown of each below:
Each of the three main credit reporting bureaus use different scales when measuring your credit score. While Equifax uses a scale of 0 to 1,200, both Experian and Illion use a scale of 0 to 1,000. This may mean that a higher credit score with Equifax may appear lower with Experian and Illion.
Additionally, credit reporting bureaus have different standards regarding the quality of your credit score. Equifax categorises a good credit score as ranging from 622 to 725, with anything higher classified as very good or excellent, or lower as average or below average. Experian’s criteria for a good credit score is 625 to 699, and for Illion a good score is anywhere from 500 to 699. Therefore, if your score with Equifax is good, it might be very good with Experian.
|Excellent||833 – 1,200||800 – 1,000||800 – 1,000|
|Very Good||726 – 832||700 – 799||700 – 799|
|Good||622 – 725||625 – 699||500 – 699|
|Average||510 – 621||550 – 624||300 – 499|
|Below Average||0 – 509||0 – 549||0 – 299|
Another factor that can affect your credit score is the scoring models used by the bureaus. As each bureau keeps their formula for calculating credit scores confidential, it can be difficult to compare the scoring process across all platforms. It can also lead to different results when calculating your credit score.
All three main bureaus do consider certain factors from your credit history when calculating your score. For example: repaying debts on time, the amount of money borrowed, and the number of credit applications made within the last five years.
Repaying your debts on time is one of many ways to improve your credit score, because most lending services will see this as a clear sign of reliability. It also reduces the likelihood of additional interest charges on late repayments.
Because of this, it can be beneficial to ensure that you are not applying for credit loans too often in a small time frame. Applying for too many loans can have a negative impact on your credit score. This can make it more difficult for you to apply for loans with lower interest rates in the future, costing you more money.
Some credit providers report positive credit behaviour, which indicates debts repaid on time have a positive effect on your credit report. Although credit reporting bureaus use information from your credit history to calculate your credit score, lending services may not report all your relevant personal information to each reporting bureau.
For example, if you have a credit card with a bank and are making payments on time, the bank reports this information to Equifax. From there, Equifax will calculate your credit score using the information provided by the bank that outlines your repayment history as good. This will then be reflected in your Equifax credit report. However, since Experian and Illion will not have access to the same information as Equifax on the quality of your credit score, they may not be able to calculate your credit score to the same degree effectiveness as Equifax, which can cause your credit score to differentiate between agencies.
Where can I get a copy of my credit report?
You can get a copy of your credit report for free by contacting any of the three credit reporting bureaus:
- Equifax: 138 332
- Experian: 1300 783 684
- Illion: 132 333
Accessing your credit report online will usually take one to two business days. Requesting a report through mail or email can sometimes take up to 10 days.
A credit report is generated any time you have applied for credit or a loan, it is possible for your credit score to fluctuate across reports across the three different bureaus over time. Because of this, it is recommended that you get a copy of your credit report at least once every 12 months, but you can access it every three months.
Contacting all three credit bureaus will allow you to compare your credit score across their different credit scoring models and get the most accurate and comprehensive credit score.