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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.

Which credit card has the highest annual percentage rate?

The credit card market changes all the time, so the credit card with the highest annual percentage rate is also liable to change.

Keep in mind that credit card interest rates are expressed as a yearly rate, or annual percentage rate (APR). A low APR is generally good but also consider:

  • There can be different APR's for each feature of the card (e.g. purchases may have an APR of 14 per cent, while cash advances on same card could have an APR of 17 per cent.
  • Credit cards with a variable rate can change throughout the year, affecting your APR, so check the full details.
  • If you pay your balance in full every month, having the lowest APR is not as important as the other fees associated with the card. However, if you carry a balance from month to month, then you want the lowest APR possible.

What should you do if your credit card is compromised?

Credit card fraud is a serious problem. If your credit card is compromised and you’re wondering what to do, here are a few precautionary steps to take.

Contact you credit provider – Get in touch will your credit card provider. If you feel your card has been compromised, you should be able to lock or block it.

Monitor your accounts – Keep an eye on your credit card accounts. Any unauthorised transactions could be a sign your credit card has been compromised.

Check your credit rating – It’s also important to check your credit rating, to ensure you’re not a victim of identity theft or some other financial mischief.

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. 

 

How do I file a Virgin Money credit card insurance claim?

To make a claim, you can either call Allianz Global Assist at 1800 072 791 or visit their claims page. If you’re making a claim related to any travel-related complimentary insurance, such as international travel or transit accident insurance, you may need to visit their travel claims website. Again, for filing a claim while travelling overseas, you can call Allianz at +61 7 3305 7499.

Before filing your claim, consider checking which complimentary insurances are available with your Virgin Money credit card. Customers who own a ‘no annual fee’ or ‘low rate’ credit card don’t get these benefits, while some other credit cards only come with guaranteed pricing and transit accident insurance.

Remember that you’ll need to submit proof that your credit card offers the complimentary insurance benefit which you are claiming. You can read the credit card complimentary insurance terms and conditions for details regarding the benefits available on your credit card.

Do I get HSBC credit card insurance on purchases I make?

As an HSBC credit card (HSBC Platinum, HSBC Platinum Qantas and HSBC Premier World) cardholder, you may be entitled to complimentary international and domestic travel insurance. This HSBC credit card insurance covers you for hospital stays and medical expenses, flight cancellations or delays, as well as lost luggage or personal items.

To be eligible for the insurance, you should have paid for at least 90 per cent of your overseas return travel ticket with your HSBC credit card. The cover is automatically activated without a need to contact HSBC. However, it’s always best to let your card issuer know when you travel overseas. If you have pre-existing medical conditions, you’ll need to contact Allianz directly to organise cover for these as they aren’t covered by the insurance. You can call Allianz on 1800 648 093.

The complimentary international travel insurance that comes with your HSBC Platinum credit card is valid for up to four months from the date of your departure from Australia. Your HSBC credit card insurance cover also covers your spouse and dependent children if 90 per cent of their travel ticket is purchased using your HSBC card.

 

How can I transfer money from a credit card to a bank account in ANZ?

The process to transfer money from credit card to a bank account for ANZ customers can be made online via the mobile app or over the phone. Here are the necessary steps for the transfer:

Call the ANZ general enquiries number on 132273 and verify your account information. Request to transfer the desired amount. You’ll then have to provide the bank account number and the BSB details to complete the transfer.

Log in to your online banking or mobile banking app and select the “transfer” option. Provide the bank account number, BSB details, and the amount you want to transfer. Confirm the details for ANZ to  transfer money from credit card to a bank account.

What to consider before transferring money from your credit card to your bank account in Citibank?

You can transfer money from a Citibank credit card to a bank account depending on the available limit of each. The process is known as a cash advance transaction, and Citibank should allow you to transfer some portion of the total credit limit.

Transferring funds from a credit card to a bank account is likely to attract additional charges, so please consider the following potential costs:

  • A cash advance fee, which is a per cent of the total transfer amount
  • A 2 per cent transaction fee when you transfer money from a Citibank credit card to a bank account
  • Cash advance interest rate applicable on the transfer amount without any interest-free period.

To learn more about such transfers, you can contact the bank via the online service desk, email, or by calling 13 CITI (13 24 84).

Who is eligible for Bankwest credit card insurance

Bankwest offers complimentary overseas travel insurance to its Gold MasterCard, Platinum MasterCard and World MasterCard cardholders. Eligible Gold and Platinum MasterCard customers are covered for up to 31 consecutive days of travel, while the World MasterCard holders are covered for six successive months.

To receive the complimentary Bankwest credit card insurance, cardholders need to:

  • Be under 80 years old
  • Be travelling to a foreign destination
  • Not have a cancelled or suspended card.


The complimentary insurance is also available to spouses and children if they travel with you for the entire period. The level of cover depends on the type of card and its  credit limit. Some of the standard types of cover include:

  • Overseas emergency medical assistance
  • Personal liability
  • Accidental demise
  • Baggage and personal goods.


It’s important to remember that pre-existing conditions are not covered by the complimentary Bankwest credit card insurance. Other terms and conditions also apply. 

If you are an eligible cardholder and need to make a claim, it can either be done online or by calling +612 8907 5615. 

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.

How to increase your HSBC credit card limit

You can opt to increase your HSBC credit card limit in multiple ways. 

The easiest way to change your HSBC credit card limit is through online banking. Log on to your account and click on ‘Manage your account’. Then, click on ‘My Cards’ and choose to change your credit card limit. Simply complete the HSBC credit card limit increase form and click on ‘Submit’. 

You can also request to increase your credit card limit by calling HSBC’s customer service hotline on 1300 303 168. 

Lastly, you can visit any HSBC branch to apply to lift your card limit. 

If you are facing challenges while trying to complete an HSBC credit card credit limit increase online, you can chat with a representative using internet banking. Click on the ‘Need Help’ button on the right of the dashboard and open the chat window to speak with the customer service officer.