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How to Check Your Credit Score Online & 6 Reasons to Whip Your Credit Score Into Shape
January 9, 2015● 8 minute read●
Unless you’re thinking about applying for a loan or finance, your credit score may not be something you often think about. It’s one of those financial terms that feel daunting, so many people choose to ignore it. That is until they’re in a situation where their credit score matters. It’s a good idea to keep track of and check your credit score at least semi-regularly, so you can make sound financial decisions.
If you’re not quite sure where to start, don’t worry; you’re not alone. Jacaranda Finance is here to help with some handy information. We’ll give you an insight into what an improved credit score could do for you. Here’s how to check your credit score online, and steps you can take if you need to improve it.
How do I check my credit scores?
In Australia, there are a few credit reporting bodies that you can apply with to get a credit check. These are Experian, Equifax and illion (formerly Dun and Bradstreet). No matter which website you use to check your credit score, if you’re in Australia, then it will be coming from one of these bodies.
Previously, checking your credit score could be a bit of a chore. Even up until recently, there was usually a bit of a wait involved, and you’d have to pay if you wanted to speed up the process. Thankfully, there are now more options. You can get a free credit check quickly from several different websites.
For the lowdown on those options, check out ASIC’s MoneySmart website.
What does a good credit score look like?
So you’ve got your credit score check – now what? Depending on the agency your credit rating check comes from, it will be on a scale of either 0 to 1,000 or 0 to 1,200. Experian and illion use the former, while Equifax uses the latter. Thankfully they all use similar band descriptors to give you an idea of where you’re sitting.
|Excellent||800 – 1,000||800 – 1000||833 – 1,200|
|Very Good||700 – 799||700 – 799||726 – 832|
|Good||625 – 699||500 – 699||622 – 725|
|Fair/Average||550 – 624||300 – 499||510 – 621|
|Weak/Below Average||0 – 549||0 – 299||0 – 509|
So, how do you stack up? If you find yourself on the lower end of the scale, don’t panic. After all, the first step to fixing a problem is recognising that there is one. Even those with good scores still have room to improve. The higher your credit score is, the more you’ll benefit from it.
How can I improve my credit score?
Improving your credit score is all about starting and maintaining sound financial habits. These include paying your bills on time, avoiding multiple loan or credit card applications. It also includes making repayments on any outstanding loans or credit cards. A good idea is to check your credit score regularly so you know how you’re progressing.
For more information, why not have a look at our tips for repairing your credit score? With your credit score looking healthier, you’ll have more bargaining power should you ever need to apply for a loan.
Low credit scores are not uncommon. Improving this score may seem like an overwhelming task, but it can definitely be worth it. Here are some of the benefits of having a credit score in one of the top bands.
1. More negotiating power
Having a better credit score means you can negotiate with far more influence than usual. Whether that be negotiating credit card terms or sorting out a bank loan, you typically have much more of a say. Because you have a history of being financially responsible, you’ll likely be able to secure yourself better rates.
If the bank that you usually deal with isn’t giving you the terms you’re after, having a top-notch credit score means you’re in a better position to seek finance from other lenders.
2. Job opportunities
You might find as you move up the ranks in your chosen industry that prospective employers will start to conduct credit checks as part of their vetting process. This is especially relevant if you’re applying for a position that involves financial responsibility. As you can imagine, if a company is going to trust you with the handling of their finances, they want to see that you have yours in order.
A credit check conducted by a possible future employer acts kind of in the same way as a reference. Referees are a contact you provide the employer with to verify your suitability for the job. They want to hear that you’re as responsible and trustworthy as you say, and a credit check can provide similar insight. If they see evidence of past bankruptcies or frequently missed payments, they might consider you an unreliable and risky choice for the job. They might also worry that outside financial issues could jeopardise your work with them.
Having a stellar credit score provides even further evidence of your credibility, and can give you an edge over other applicants.
3. Easier renting
If you’re living in a busy city, there’s often quite a bit of competition when it comes to the rental market. Finding the perfect place is hard and, even if you do, you can’t guarantee you’ll be the only one vying for it.
Landlords, like banks and lenders, can use your credit score to determine your financial reliability. With so many people competing for a single rental, having bad credit may be a deciding factor against you. A history of missed payments doesn’t bode well for paying rent regularly, and even if your bank balance is healthy, you could still lose out.
Having a good credit score shows a landlord that you’re on top of your finances and you have no trouble making regular payments.
4. Improved home loan rates
Say your days of renting are over and you’re now ready to look for a place to buy and call your own. Not many homeowners have the full purchase amount in their bank account, so they will typically have to apply for a home loan. If you’ve applied for a small loan from a bank in the past, you’re probably aware of their strictness surrounding credit scores. This is just as applicable, if not more so, for home loans and larger loans.
Home loans are often quite large sums of money, so the more negotiating power you have, the better. As we’ve discussed above, a better credit score usually equals more negotiating power. Rather than just taking whatever the bank offers, you can negotiate terms with your good credit history to back you up.
5. Cheaper utilities
At this point, you might be thinking, “Is there any aspect of life that doesn’t depend on your credit score?” Well, that’s why it’s so important to get yours back on track if it’s looking a bit rough. If you’re sorting utilities out by yourself, certain utility companies may take a look at your credit history. Just like a bank or a landlord, they want to ensure that you can make regular repayments. A history of defaulting or making late payments may result in utility companies requiring you to make an upfront deposit. This is to accommodate the risk they’re taking.
If you’re moving into a new place, the last thing you want is another unnecessary cost to add to the list. Fixing your credit score now can pay significant dividends in the long run, saving you money in a variety of areas.
6. Better insurance rates
Insurance is an integral part of Australians’ lives, from car to home, pet, contents and more. Insurance can be a lifeline if an accident happens, but it doesn’t make the recurring payments any easier to swallow in the meantime. To get that peace of mind without burning a hole in your wallet, you’ll need to get the best possible deal for your insurance. Your credit score comes into play here as well.
Simply put, people with high credit scores are more likely to be offered lower rates on their insurance. Insurance companies are all about measuring risk. While they won’t reject you just for having a poor credit history, you might find that the prices are quite steep. Repair that credit score and watch those costs drop, all while protecting your future.
Don’t have a perfect credit score, but need a quick cash injection?
The points we’ve listed above are all key benefits to improve your credit score, but the process still takes time. Sometimes the unexpected happens, and you find yourself hit with some expenses that you can’t entirely cover. If you need a bit of a financial pick me up until everything’s sorted, why not look into a loan with Jacaranda Finance? We may be able to offer bad credit loans from $300 up to $10,000!
Before you apply, there are just a few simple boxes you’ll need to tick.
You must be:
- 18 years of age or over;
- Receiving a regular income into a personal bank account for at least the past 90 days;
- Have a direct contact number.
That’s all there is to it! If you can check off those then head to the top of our website and use our helpful loan calculator to start your application. We understand that some people have had past issues with lenders rejecting them based on their credit scores. Don’t worry! While we do conduct credit checks, it’s merely as part of our responsible lending practices, and we won’t judge you for it. We also take into account your full and current financial position to look for recent patterns of responsible spending behaviour.
If you’d like to find out more, you’ve come to the right place! Our website is packed with information. You can get an idea of the costs of a loan and how it works, or check out the about us page. There’s the FAQ section for common queries, and if you don’t find the answer you’re looking for there, then you’re welcome to contact us.
If a Jacaranda loan sounds right for you, then apply now to get started!
Written by Jacaranda Team