How to repair your credit score

How to repair your credit score

Swiping your credit card to buy that new laptop may have felt great in the moment but your lender doesn’t care that your purchase improved your happiness; they care that you pay your monthly invoices – with interest.

Having a bad credit score can sometimes feel like a life sentence. However, there are ways to get your credit score back on track.

If you want to find out your credit score, click here.

If you’ve got bad credit and want help, click here.

What is a credit score?

A credit score is a rating that reflects your history of managing credit – things like credit cards, personal loans, phone plans and other types of loans or buy-now-pay-later schemes.

A high number means you’ve got a good history of managing credit, which means banks should feel confident you will repay any loan they might give you.

A low number means you’ve got a bad history of managing credit – therefore banks might regard you as a risk and be unwilling to lend you money.

Click here to check your credit score.

What is a credit report?

A credit report is a document that outlines your credit history.

It includes information like how many loans you’ve applied for, how successful you’ve been at repaying those loans, and any defaults or bankruptcies.

A credit report also includes personal information such as your date of birth, address and employment history.

Click here to check your credit score.

Check for mistakes

It’s not uncommon for credit reports to contain mistakes. One of the most common errors can involve your name being credited with the debt of a family member or stranger with a very similar name to yours.

Australia’s financial services regulator, ASIC, provides a detailed explanation on how to fix incorrect information on your credit report, and how to contact an ombudsman if you need help.

Five steps to improve your credit score

  1. Get the most up-to-date version of your credit score
  2. Check for mistakes
  3. Pay off your existing debts
  4. Completely cancel your credit card
  5. Add positive information to your credit report

Click here to check your credit score.

Pay off your existing debts

This may seem like an obvious step but it’s very important for getting your credit score in order.

If you have multiple sources of debt (credit card, car loan, personal loan, etc) you should budget to pay it off. Once you know how much you owe, you should set money aside to pay one debt off at a time, starting with the debt with the highest interest rate. If you have any additional cash left over at the end of your pay cycle, it might be a good idea to put it towards the debt as well.

If you have troubles paying your bills on time, you can set up a direct debit with your bank so your credit card and other bills are paid before the due date. Putting your payments on autopilot removes the stress of having to remember multiple debit dates for various bills.

Mobile banking apps

Mobile banking apps such as Pocketbook also help users pay off existing debt by detecting regular bill payments, notifying you of upcoming bills and auto-categorising your transactions. Their ‘Safely Spend’ feature helps you limit your weekly or monthly spend, so you can budget without stress.

Completely cancel your credit card

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Paid off your outstanding credit card debt but don’t trust yourself to keep using the card? It’s time to give it the chop.

While physically cutting your credit card up may be a therapeutic and symbolic way of removing it from your life, you’ll need to close off your account completely to ensure you don’t further damage your credit rating.

If you have a rewards card, once you’ve paid the outstanding balance you’ll want to transfer any existing points to your frequent flyer account and/or redeem the reward points. Then you should contact your lender to advise you want to cancel. Your lender may approve your cancellation over the phone by confirming your identity, although some may request a written cancellation request. If they do not take phone cancellations, simply write to your lender advising you want to cancel and close the account, including your credit card number and account details in the letter. You should receive a cancellation confirmation via mail.

It is also crucial you cancel all direct debits linked to your credit card as this can reactivate your cancelled card. Once the account is well and truly closed, you can destroy your credit card.

Would a card with a lower interest rate or higher amount of interest-free days would suit you better? Compare different credit card options now.

Who offers credit reports?

Australia has four different credit reporting bureaus, all of which offer credit reports. They are:

  • Equifax (formerly Veda Advantage)
  • Experian
  • Illion (formerly Dun & Bradstreet)
  • Tasmanian Collection Service

Click here to check your credit score.

Add positive information to your credit report

There are various ways you can show creditors you are a reliable borrower. But did you know there are also ways you can show lenders you are reliable, without paying off debt?

Lenders look for stability in your personal and financial life. If you:

  • are married
  • are a homeowner
  • have lived at the same address for several years
  • have been with the same employer for several years

…these factors all reflect positively on your credit record. If you believe that this information has not been included in your report, you can notify credit reporting agencies to include it.

Stay on course!

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You’ve paid off your debt and you’ve cancelled those tempting credit card accounts – congratulations!

Moving forward, make sure you maintain the good habits you’ve developed while repairing your credit history. Keep track of your transactions, budget and save effectively, auto-pay your bills and try to show lenders you have a stable financial and personal life.

Want to find out your credit score? Click here.

Got bad credit and want help? Click here.

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Learn more about credit cards

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.

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

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 do you use credit cards?

A credit card can be an easy way to make purchases online, in person or over the phone. When used properly, a credit card can even help you manage your cash flow. But before applying for a credit card, it’s good to know how they work. A credit card is essentially a personal line of credit which lets you buy things and pay for them later. As a card holder, you’ll be given a credit limit and (potentially) charged interest on the money the bank lends you. At the end of each billing period, the bank will send you a statement which shows your outstanding balance and the minimum amount you need to pay back. If you don’t pay back the full balance amount, the bank will begin charging you interest.

How does ANZ increase my credit card limit?

If you’re the primary cardholder on an ANZ credit card, you can increase your credit limit by logging into your credit card account and choosing the “Increase your credit limit” option. You can also submit an ANZ credit card limit increase application form by visiting any ANZ branch or by mail or fax. When completing the form, it's important to remember to specify how much you want the limit increased. You can estimate this by first calculating the amount of credit card debt you can afford to repay based on your income and expenses, and then declaring that in your application. 

Irrespective of whether you’re completing your ANZ credit card limit increase application online or in print, you’ll need to provide updated employment information, income, and expenses, which the company will have to verify. You'll also need to authorise ANZ’s access to your credit history, as your current credit score and recent credit history tell the company about your financial responsibility, and whether or not you'll be able to repay the additional debt you’re applying for. 

In some cases, ANZ may ask you for additional information, or the agent processing the application may reach out to you after your application is received. After verifying your credit score as well as your personal and financial information, however, ANZ may approve a credit card limit increase proportionate to your repaying ability, though it may not be the same as the increase you requested.

How to pay a credit card

There are a few ways to pay a credit card bill. These include:

  • BPAY - allows you to safely make credit card payments online.
  • Direct debits - set up an automatic payment from your bank account to pay your credit card bill each month. You can choose how much you want to pay of your credit card bill when you set up the auto payments.
  • In a branch.
  • Via your credit card provider's app.

How do you use a credit card?

Credit cards are a quick and convenient way to pay for items in store, online or over the phone. You can use a credit card as a cashless way to pay for goods or services, both locally and overseas. You can also use a credit card to make a cash advance, which gives you the flexibility to withdraw cash from your credit card account. Because a credit card uses the bank’s funds instead of your own, you will be charged interest on the money you spend – unless you pay off the entire debt within the interest-free period. If you pay the minimum monthly repayment, you will be charged interest. There are many different credit card options on the market, all offering different interest rates and reward options.

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.

 

Does St. George Bank offer any credit card insurance?

Depending on the type of card they hold St. George Bank credit cardholders can benefit from a host of various credit card insurance offerings including:

Complimentary overseas travel insurance, covering:

  • Medical and hospital expenses incurred while travelling overseas, with the exclusion of pre-existing conditions
  • Loss or damage to personal property
  • Legal liabilities
  • Loss or damage to rental vehicles
  • Unexpected cancellation of travel arrangements or any other unforeseen expenses

Complimentary purchase security insurance may be available to level 1 cardholders for four months and three months of complimentary insurance accessed by level 2 cardholders. This type of insurance covers loss, theft, and damage costs to eligible products purchased anywhere around the world, provided that the product was purchased using the St. George Bank credit card. 

Extended warranty insurance may be available to St. George Bank credit cardholders, which extends the manufacturer’s Australian warranty on certain products purchased. For example, if you purchase a pair of headphones that comes with 11 months of warranty, St. George Bank will provide an extended warranty of 11 months, provided the entire purchase is charged to the St. George Bank credit card. 

Select cardholders may be able to take advantage of St. George Bank’s rental vehicle excess insurance, which covers up to $5,500 for any excess or deductible which the cardholder is legally liable to pay during the rental 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. 

Can I transfer money from my American Express credit card to my bank account?

If you’re an American Express credit card customer, you may not be able to transfer money from your credit card to your bank account. However, you may be eligible for cash advances, which involves withdrawing money through an ATM. 

To qualify for a cash advance, you’ll likely have to enrol for American Express Membership Rewards. Consider checking your online credit card account to see if you can withdraw a cash advance and, if so, the fees and charges you’ll incur for this transaction. 

You should remember that cash advances are different from balance transfers, which were available with some American Express credit cards earlier. Balance transfers allow customers to consolidate debt from high-interest credit cards to a credit card offering a lower interest rate. If you only recently applied for an American Express credit card, balance transfers may not be available irrespective of the card you own. 

How can I increase my credit card limit on my American Express card?

If you want to increase the credit limit on your American Express (AMEX) credit card, you will need to apply through the AMEX Online Services, or by calling the number on the back of your card. You may need to share personal information that the bank can use to assess whether the requested limit is suitable for you and your current financial status. Once your application is approved, your new limit will be ready for use within an hour.

How to increase your Qantas Premier credit card limit

When your income or spending habits change, you might wish to increase your credit card limit. The Qantas Premier credit card allows you to do this over the phone. You can contact Qantas Premier Card Support by calling on 1300 992 700. Unlike some other credit providers, Qantas doesn’t give you the option to increase your limit online.

Qantas will only accept your application if you have a good history of repayment and have not increased your credit or bought another credit product from Qantas in the past six months.

Before approving your Qantas Premier credit card limit increase, Qantas will perform a credit assessment on your current financial circumstances and ask why you would like to increase your credit limit.

To ensure that there are no bumps in your application process, you must provide accurate and recent information about your financial situation. You should also account for any future changes you’re anticipating which could hinder your ability to repay the loan.

Once the assessment is complete, Qantas will either approve or deny your application. If they approve it, you will need to sign a credit limit increase agreement - and you can request a written copy of the credit assessment. However, if your application is rejected, Qantas can opt not to provide a copy of the assessment.

What does Westpac credit card insurance cover?

If you own a Westpac credit card, one of the perks may be  free travel insurance. If you’re eligible, you may be covered if you get sick while travelling, have lost your luggage, have to cancel a trip or have an accident while you’re on the move.

Besides these standard inclusions, the Westpac credit card insurance policy may also cover you for hospital essentials, emergency dental treatment and alternative transport if your original plans go awry. It may also cover loss of income when you get back home after being sick  overseas and your pets’ boarding costs too.

If you have any queries, the Westpac credit card insurance contact number is 1800 091 710. You can submit a claim online.