Credit Score

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Jan 17th, 2022

Demystifying your credit score insights

Keeping track of your credit score is a good way of understanding your financial position. Here's how to decipher your score insights.

Keeping track of your credit score is a good way of understanding your financial position. But here's how to decipher what your credit score insights mean.

If you've checked your credit score - well done! Even in good times, it's important to check your score regularly to ensure it's accurate and in good health. When you have a good credit rating, you can feel confident knowing that you can access funds when you need them.

With SocietyOne, you can access your credit score and credit report for free - and check it as many times as you wish. We can also monitor your score and send you a message if we see any changes.

Once you have your score, here's how to decipher what your credit score insights mean.

The score

First up, your score. It's the number financial institutions use as part of deciding whether to lend you money. Credit reporting bureaus review your financial history to formulate the a score which represents how reliable and trustworthy you are as a borrower.

Your financial history includes:

  • the amount of money you've borrowed
  • the number of credit applications you've made
  • whether you pay on time

The higher score, the better. The thing to remember is your credit score can change over time.

Black Marks

Black marks are as bad as they sound. They are serious indicators against your credit file that serve as a word of caution to potential lenders. Just one black mark can significantly lower your credit score and might impact your ability to secure credit.

Common black marks include:

  • Bankruptcy 
  • Defaults - If you default on a bill that is more than $150 and receive a written notice, this will be recorded on your credit file. This overdue payment is labelled as a default and recorded on your credit file for a minimum of 5 years. 
  • Court actions - Are there any court judgements passed down about debt, like personal insolvencies or debt agreements?

Showing a historical inability to pay back debts puts a big dent in your credit score, and is viewed as unfavourable by most lenders.

Even if you default on a bill payment due to forgetting to update your details when changing banks or moving house, black marks can stay on your credit file for a minimum of 5 years. If you see something unexpected, it's essential to take action to challenge inaccuracies or settle outstanding debt to repair your score.

Repayment History

Owning a credit card isn't the only way to build a good credit rating. But a history of meeting credit card or loan repayments offers solid proof of responsible financial management and indicates your ability to maintain good financial habits in the future. If you've missed repayments in the past, your credit score might be impacted. To keep a good credit score, always meet your repayment obligations. If something is showing up incorrectly, it's important to contact the credit bureau to get it fixed.

Enquiries

Not to be confused with checking your credit score, enquiries refers to the number of applications for any form of credit, like personal loans, credit cards, mortgages and even utilities.

Credit enquiries stay on record for a minimum of 5 years. Every application is recorded on your credit report as a credit enquiry - regardless of whether you were approved for the finance or accepted the offer. Before applying for any form of credit, it's important to check your eligibility first. If your application is rejected, wait a few months before applying again.

It's important not to submit several loan applications to multiple lenders hoping that one will be approved. This approach will be detrimental to your credit score as numerous enquiries suggest to lenders that you are desperate for funds.

Age of Credit File

If you have a short credit history (less than 6 months), your score might classify you as 'high risk' because there isn't enough information to determine if you will be a responsible borrower.

Generally speaking, it's good to have a proven track record that shows you can meet any credit repayments, including mobile phone plans, an internet account, utility accounts or store cards registered to your name and address.

Solid credit history cannot be built quickly, so starting early is essential.

Final Word

If your score is low, be wary of paying credit repair companies that claim they can 'clean' your credit report. If your score is holding you back, there are straightforward steps you can take to repair it.