You & Your Credit File

Your credit file includes information on your credit history, including overdue debts, lenders you have previously approached for credit and, if you’ve been shopping around for products, applications for quick loans. Credit files contain national data, which means, for example, that a Queensland-based lender could see credit applications that you have made in NSW.

In Australia your credit file doesn’t state whether your credit history is considered ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It simply records credit bureau data, which is then independently reviewed by a lender. Sometimes instant approval can then be granted, depending on the lender’s policies and procedures.

Many people ask whether or not your New Zealand credit record follows you to Australia. The answer is no, only if you wish to purchase a home.

What Is A Credit Check?

Credit checks are also known as ‘credit history checks’ or ‘credit reference checks’. Lenders carry out credit checks when individuals or businesses apply for a line of credit.

Why do you need to know?

When you move here you will most likely apply for a house for rent or potentially a mobile phone plan and many more services. Most service providers will perform a credit check on you. When a kiwi arrives to Australia you affectively have no credit rating because you have not been living in Australia, earning income and spending, therefore you are not in the system.

Heres a list of services you can expect to be credit checked on
Hot Tip

Get your credit score and any credit references you may have and bring them with you to Australia. You can often use these paired with an explanation that you have recently arrived to Australia (when first applying for credit, houses etc)

You can purchase your NZ credit file or get the free one!



Sample report 

In Australia, lenders (such as banks and credit card companies) usually contact an independent credit bureau (such as Equifax) to access a credit file or credit report.

Who Will Check Your Credit File?

A lender may wish to access this data as part of a credit check. Typically, a lender (such as a bank, phone company or credit union) will contact a credit bureau when they are required to conduct a credit check. For instance, if you have applied for a credit card or an interest-free personal loan, the lender will access your credit file to review your previous applications, as well as any overdue accounts.

Whenever you apply for credit or a loan in Australia and a credit provider does a credit check, it forms part of your credit history. Credit bureaus, such as Equifax, record your credit history in a credit file. You can easily access your credit file online.

Your credit file – or credit report – details your credit history, applications for credit and any overdue debt. Bankruptcies, court judgements and court orders are also noted, alongside personal identification information and commercial credit information.

Lenders, such as banks and credit unions, will usually run a credit check when you apply for a loan, such as a business loan. They will assess your credit history against their set of specific criteria, to help them determine your suitability for credit.

It is best practice to try and obtain pre-approval before you actually apply for the credit you seek. This way, you have an indication of whether your credit application is likely to get approved before it effects your credit rating.

Accessing Your Credit File

Before accessing your file, the credit provider will either request your consent, or advise you of their intent to view it. They’ll then assess the credit file to help them decide whether to accept or refuse your credit application. This will be done against the lender’s set of specific internal criteria. Landlords can’t check the credit history of prospective tenants. Real estate agencies that subscribe to the National Tenancies Database – a specialised credit agency which is only accessible to real estate agents – can check the tenancy and rental credit histories of applicants for leases, but this is not the same thing.

What Are Credit Rating Agencies?

In some countries like America, credit rating agencies assess the credit history of an individual or business to calculate their credit rating. This rating is shown to lenders to help them decide whether to provide or extend a loan or line of credit. In Australia, we have credit bureaus, such as Equifax. These bureaus hold consumer and commercial credit information, as well as public record information such as bankruptcy data.

What Is Equifax Australia?

Equifax, previously known as Veda is Australia’s leading credit bureau, holding more credit data than any other organisation in the country. Equifax holds data on 2.5 million companies and 1.7 million registered business names that are actively trading, and information on 19.4 million credit-active people across Australia. Equifax is also in New Zealand but are two totally different credit files.

What Information Do They Hold?

Your credit score is determined by your credit file, which is a record of your credit history. It is held by credit bureaus such as Equifax and can contain the following information:

  • credit enquiries made in the past five years relating to loans sought for household, personal or domestic purposes, or where you have agreed to act as guarantor for someone else
  • current credit relationships; that is, the name of credit providers with whom you currently have loan arrangements
  • details of any debts that are 60 days or more overdue, or any debts that have been classified as serious credit infringements
  • public information such as bankruptcy, court judgments and court orders
  • commercial credit enquiries and debts.

Is A Credit Report Australia-Wide?

Yes. Whether you apply for credit or a loan in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth or Sydney, it will be recorded on your credit file.

Your credit file can contain the following information:

  • your personal details; and
  • a record of loans, such as home, car and business loans.

It will also document payment defaults, outstanding debt, court judgements, bankruptcy, and court orders.

Lenders, such as banks, take this information into account when processing your request for credit. For example, you may have defaulted on a loan with a NSW rental company. This could affect your application for a loan with a bank in Victoria, or for an account with a Queensland gas company.

Checking Your Own Credit Rating

You can request a copy of your credit file online, to review the information that is likely to be reviewed as part of a credit check. You’ll also be able to see any data that may have led to a refused credit application, or simply check that your credit history is up to date.

You can access your credit file using many different companies however, one of Australia’s leading credit report companies is Equifax where you can choose to pull your file for free, which takes some time. Or pay a small fee to receive it immediately.

How To Check & How Much Does It Cost?

It’s relatively easy to check your credit rating for a fee. Obtaining a copy of your file for free is also possible if you don’t mind waiting. You can obtain one free credit report per year however it can take around two weeks to receive it. In some cases it can take longer and there is little information to help you if you are still waiting after that time period.

If you want instant results Equifax Australia offer packages from $9.95/pm to $14.95/pm. With paid packages you can easily access your personal credit score and credit file online whereas you have restricted access to your credit file and no access to your credit score if you chose the free option. When signing up with Equifax, they will notify you as soon as an enquiry is made on your credit file.

Credit File Useful Information

  • It can be useful to check your credit file before you apply for a credit card, home or business loan, mobile phone plan or “quick loan”. You will be able to see the credit information that is shared with lenders and credit providers (such as banks and utility providers) when they access your credit file.
  • Make sure overdue debts aren’t recorded on your Equifax credit report by paying loans and bills on time. For example, consider consolidating your debts in order to pay off any loans faster or to reduce fees associated with several individual loans. If you’re having trouble, consider talking to a financial counsellor or your credit provider to arrange a payment plan.
  • If you’re moving house get in touch with all your credit providers (banks, utilities, phone company, etc.) to make sure your bills are redirected to your new address.
  • Do your homework before you apply for credit, and only apply for credit when you need it. Making multiple applications for credit within a short space of time can reduce your credit score and make you seem less attractive to credit providers.
  • Regularly check your Equifax credit report. This helps to ensure no one uses your identity to obtain credit or to commit an identity crime.
  • It’s important to note that references to overdue debts are not removed from your file just because the debts have been cleared. They’ll still remain on your file for five years. However, the relevant credit provider will update your credit file to reflect the fact that the debt is no longer overdue.
  • Equifax does not advise lenders on whether they should accept or reject a credit application. They simply supply your credit file to the lender, and the lender uses that information as part of their own assessment process.
  • When you apply for a copy of your credit file, your contact information such as postal address, employer and telephone numbers are also added to your credit file for credit providers to access.