If you’re a diligent borrower and you consistently prioritise your credit score, you’ll likely have it front of mind when applying for new credit.
So, when it comes to submitting an application for a new personal loan, you might be wondering whether your credit score could be affected.
Like most credit products, applying for a personal loan does have the potential to affect your credit score, but whether or not it does – and to what extent – will likely depend on individual circumstances.
When can applying for a personal loan negatively affect your credit score?
Generally speaking, when submitting a personal loan application, there are two key mistakes that could lead to your credit score being negatively affected:
- Submitting multiple applications at the same time – perhaps with the erroneous belief that you might be doubling your chance of approval.
- Failing to do your due diligence, getting knocked back by the lender, and then reapplying soon after.
Both of these mistakes ultimately risk hurting your credit score in the same way.
Each time you submit a personal loan application, the lender will conduct an enquiry on your credit file as one part of the decision-making process. This will be recorded on your file as a credit enquiry and is visible to other lenders who perform subsequent enquiries.
If your credit file has evidence that you have applied for multiple loans at once, or in quick succession, lenders may be hesitant to approve your application as it may be an indication of credit stress.
Credit providers have an obligation to adhere to the responsible lending conduct obligations as imposed by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). That means, if the lender has reason to believe that the credit product you have applied for may be unsuitable for you, they are required to reject the application.
According to both major credit reporting bureaus, Equifax and Experian, having multiple hard enquiries recorded on your file within a short period of time can also have a negative effect on your overall credit score.
When can applying for a personal loan positively affect your credit score?
While a personal loan application won’t necessarily have any positive affect on your credit score, the way in which you pay off your loan could.
Since the introduction of comprehensive credit reporting, your credit file will show both positive and negative credit events. Which means, if you consistently make your loan repayments on time and successfully pay off your loan in accordance with its conditions, you could see a positive impact on your credit score.
How can I protect my credit score when applying for a personal loan?
There are a number of steps you can take before submitting a loan application that could help protect your credit score, including the following:
- Check your credit score – First things first, it’s worth finding out what your credit score is so that you have a better idea of which personal loans you may be eligible for. Plus, regularly accessing your credit file allows you to look out for discrepancies and dispute any that may arise. RateCity's credit hub allows you to run a free soft enquiry that will have no impact on your credit score.
- Do your due diligence – This involves making a comprehensive personal loan comparison and compiling a short list of the products that best suit your needs.
- Check the lending criteria – Once you have selected your preferred loan product, it’s time to make sure you meet the lender’s eligibility criteria. It’s crucial that you meet these requirements to avoid having your application rejected. Don’t hesitate to reach out directly to the lender if you have any questions or concerns.
- Ask for preapproval – Plenty of lenders offer preapproval for personal loans so that applicants can find out how much they may be able to borrow before submitting a formal loan application.
- Consider your budget – Whether or not you apply for preapproval, it’s worth doing your own calculations to ensure the loan repayments will fit comfortably within your budget. RateCity’s personal loan calculator can provide you with a repayment estimate based on the loan amount, interest rate and loan term.
- Wait before reapplying – In the unfortunate circumstance that you do have your application rejected, it may be worth waiting for a period of time before you reapply to avoid having too many enquiries recorded on your file. If you are having difficulty managing your finances, consider reaching out to the National Debt Helpline for free financial counselling.