How to clean up your credit report

How to clean up your credit report

Most Australians have no idea what it is or how to check it, but your credit history determines whether you are approved for a home loan, a mobile phone plan or any kind of loan.

And from today (Wednesday 12 March), changes to the Australian Privacy Laws mean lenders will have access to more information about your financial habits, including 24 months of your repayment patterns for credit cards, loans and other credit.

The changes mean that lenders will now be able to see when you opened or closed a credit account, the current limit on your credit accounts as well as your repayment history. The additional information will be backdated on your credit report to December 2012.

If you haven’t been paying your bills on time or have defaulted on a loan, you may have trouble applying for a new loan or phone plan. The good news is that you can actively improve your credit report by being more careful and ensuring all bills are paid on time.

How the changes can help you

The additional information paints a clearer picture of your credit past. For example, if you previously had trouble with repayments but have since been making repayments on time, the new information will balance out the old behaviour.

“In the past, a late payment on a phone bill or loan could put a ‘black mark’ on a consumer’s record for years to come,” Alex Parsons, CEO of RateCity.com.au, said. “But with the new ‘positive’ changes to credit reporting, consumers will have a chance to redeem themselves and effectively add ‘green ticks’ to their file as they do so.”

To redeem themselves, any consumer with a sketchy credit history will “need to be diligent in making an effort to improve, because the banks will be watching,” Parsons added.

According to the Australian Retail Credit Association, the changes will also benefit consumers with a good credit report by allowing lenders to offer them a level of credit that better matches their capacity to repay the loan and any existing credit they owe.

The changes also provide increased consumer protection. Credit providers are now obliged to help you remove any incorrect information on your credit report, and if your correction request is not resolved you have better access to dispute resolution processes. And there are more options for protection in the event of identity theft or fraud.

Tips for cleaning up your credit history

  • Pay bills on time: you can improve your credit record by using credit more often and paying the bills on time, so that the on-time payments outweigh any indiscretions.
  • Set up a direct debit with your bank so that your credit card and other bills are paid before the due date.
  • Reduce any unnecessarily large credit limits you may have.
  • Clear up any disputed records: your credit report includes instances when a lender or credit provider unsuccessfully tried to contact you and reported you as a missing debtor. Visit an online credit reporting agency, such as Veda, to obtain a free copy of your credit report.

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Learn more about credit cards

Do you need a credit card to get a loan?

You do not need a credit card to get a loan, but you usually need to have a credit history. Without a credit history, a financial institution cannot assess your ‘credit worthiness’, or your capacity to pay off the loan.

If you don’t have a credit card, your credit history can reflect any record of paying off an asset. Without any credit credit history, you’re limited in the type of loans you can apply for. But you may be able to obtain a secured loan against an asset. For more information on improving your credit score, go here

How easy is it to get a credit card?

For most Australians, there are no great barriers to applying for and getting approved for a credit card. Here are some points that a lender will consider when assessing your credit card application.

Credit score: A bad credit score is not the be all and end all of your application, but it may stop you being approved for a higher credit limit. If your credit score is less than perfect, apply for the credit limit that you need, rather than the one you want.

Annual income: Most credit cards have minimum annual income requirements. Make sure you’re applying for a card where you meet the minimum.

Age & residency: You need to be at least 18 years old to apply for a credit card in Australia, and most require that you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident. However, there are some credit cards available to temporary residents.

How do I increase my Virgin credit card limit?

If you’re a Virgin Money cardholder and you’re looking at increasing your credit card limit, the first step is to get in touch with Virgin’s credit team on 13 37 39. 

Once you request a Virgin Money credit card limit increase, the lender will do an assessment of your current financial position to make sure you can repay the credit. Virgin Money will typically take 7 to 10 working days to complete this process.

Virgin Money has strict terms around credit increases. To be eligible, you must have opened your account no less than nine months before making the application. Also, at least six months must have passed since your last credit limit increase. The maximum increase you can expect will be 50 per cent of your existing credit limit.

How do I increase my Suncorp credit card limit?

You can ask Suncorp to increase your credit card limit  by contacting  131 155 or by visiting your nearest branch. You’ll have to meet Suncorp’s credit criteria and general terms. For example, you may not receive an increase in your limit if you have successfully applied for one or in the past nine months. Similarly, the bank will look at whether you’ve applied for other credit products recently. 

When assessing your application for a credit increase, banks look at a range of criteria, such as your income and your spending and repayment history. Usually you’ll hear back within a couple of weeks. 

Can I transfer money from a credit card to a bank account with HSBC?

With HSBC’s cash transfer function, you can transfer money from a credit card to a bank account. Customers who wish to make cash transfers have to apply through HSBC and are charged interest on the transactions, but no other fees. Under the program, customers can:

  • Borrow between $500 and $15,000, so long at least 20 per cent of the credit limit is still available after the transfer
  • Transfer to any nominated bank account quickly. 


Registered HSBC online banking users can log in to their accounts and select credit cards online from the My Banking tab. They can then complete the form from the Cash Transfer option. On approval, the requested amount is transferred to the nominated bank account within three days.

Customers can also register for the cash transfer program via the Mobile Banking app. Don’t forget to check the interest rate you’ll be charged, both before and after any promotional period.

Increase your credit card limit with Westpac

You can apply to increase your Westpac credit card credit limit at any time, and most credit card providers have made it really easy to do so. You can use your online banking portal, the credit card provider’s mobile app, or even the telephone. 

Applying online to increase your credit limit with Westpac is the easiest option if you’ve already activated Westpac Live Online Banking. All you need to do is fill in the required information and then hit ‘submit’ to apply for an increase in your credit card limit.

Most banks will ask for details of your financial situation at the time of applying for a credit increase. This is done to ensure your new limit meets the lender’s criteria. 

You can apply for increasing your credit limit in any of the following ways:

  1. Visiting your nearest Westpac branch
  2. Calling Westpac on 1300 651 089
  3. Logging in on Westpac Live Online Banking

How to increase the NAB credit card limit?

If you use your NAB credit card regularly, you could consider requesting a higher credit limit. The good news is that it's fairly easy to do so using either the NAB app or NAB internet banking. 

NAB app: 

  • Step 1: Download the latest version of the NAB app.
  • Step 2: Select the ‘My Cards’ menu. 
  • Step 3: Select the card you want to increase the credit limit for. 
  • Step 4: Select ‘Usage Controls’ and then click on ‘Change Credit Limit’.

NAB internet banking: 

  • Step 1: Log into your account. 
  • Step 2: Choose the ‘My Cards’ menu. 
  • Step 3: Choose the card for which you want to increase the limit. 
  • Step 4: Choose ‘Change My Credit Card Limit’.  

If you don’t have the NAB app or cannot access NAB internet banking, you can even visit your local branch or call their contact center. 

Once you’ve applied to increase your NAB credit card limit, you’re likely to be asked for your

  • current employment details  
  • total income, before and after-tax deductions  
  • assets, liabilities, and expenses information

NAB will then assess this information to determine if your current financial situation suits the increased credit limit request, and your application will either be accepted or denied.

However, this process will only work if you’re attempting to increase your personal NAB credit card limit. For a business credit card, you can contact the NAB Corporate & Business Servicing team or speak to your NAB relationship manager. 

How can I increase my Bankwest credit card limit?

When you apply for a Bankwest credit card, you get assigned a pre-set credit limit, which will end up being the most that you can spend on your credit card before having to pay it off. Your credit limit is chosen for you and your current financial situation, and you should remember not to overspend, irrespective of the limit, in order to avoid racking up a massive bill.

However, banks and lenders understand that your needs will change, and have made it possible for you to increase your credit card limit, allowing you to get extra cash when you need it most. Moreover, with a higher spending limit, you may be able to get access to certain perks and benefits with your Bankwest credit card.

To increase your Bankwest credit card limit, you can visit any of the bank’s branches or call 13 17 19 and follow the steps outlined.

What does ANZ credit card insurance cover?

ANZ offers complimentary insurance on some of its credit cards, which can provide some protection against unforeseeable incidents, like the theft of your card. Depending on the type of credit card you own, you may be eligible for different insurances. For instance, most ANZ credit card customers may qualify for Purchase Protection Insurance and Extended Warranty Insurance. Customers who own premium credit cards may also be eligible for Guaranteed Pricing, Rental Vehicle Excess, International Travel, and so on.

Consider checking your ANZ credit card insurance features listed in the Insurance Policy Information booklet to know which items are covered. Also, while ANZ issued the credit card, they are not the insurer. For this reason, you may need to send your insurance claims - and get your ANZ credit card insurance refund - to the insurance provider.

How can I get a Woolworths store card credit limit increase?

If you are looking to increase the credit limit on your Woolworths card, you can call 1300 101 234 to make an application. You will need to have held your Woolworths credit card account for at least six months before asking to increase your limit. 

As with most credit limit increase applications, your financial situation and spending history will be reviewed in order to assess whether your new requested credit limit is appropriate. After the assessment, Woolworths will let you know whether or not you’ve been approved. 

 

Why do different credit reporting bureaus use different scores?

The reason Equifax, Experian and Illion use different scores is because they are independent companies with their own different methodologies. As a result, a score of, say, 700 would mean different things at different credit reporting bureaus.

However, the one thing they have in common is that they divide their scores into five tiers. So if you receive a tier-two credit score from one bureau, you will probably receive a tier-two score from the others, as well.

What happens if I have a bad credit score?

If you have a bad credit score, you might encounter two main problems. First, the lower your credit score, the more likely you are to be rejected when you apply for a loan or any other credit product. Second, if your application is accepted, the less likely you are to qualify for the lowest interest rates.

Why should I check my credit rating?

There are two reasons you should check your credit rating: so you have a better understanding of your financial position, and so you can take action (if necessary) to improve your credit rating.

Lenders use credit ratings or credit scores to assess loan applications. The higher your score, the more likely you are to get approved, and the more likely you are to be charged lower interest rates and lower fees. Conversely, the lower your credit score, the less likely you are to get approved, and the more likely you are to be charged higher interest rates and higher fees.

Can I get a credit card on part-time/casual work?

Yes, as credit card providers look at your annual income amount as well as your occupation. Minimum income requirements tend to be between $30,000 – $40,000 for standard and rewards credit cards, however low income credit cards can have minimum income requirements as low as $15,000 per year.