In Australia, your credit score will, generally speaking, be somewhere between 0 and either 1,000 or 1,200 – and although different credit reporting agencies use different brackets, how low does a credit score need to be to be considered below average?
Let’s take a look at three of the major credit bureaus that offer credit reporting services in Australia, and what they consider to be a below average credit score.
If you request a copy of your credit report from Equifax, it will come with a credit score somewhere between 0 and 1,200. Equifax advises that when it comes to their credit scores:
- A score above 833 is considered “excellent”
- Between 726 and 832 is considered “very good”
- Between 622 and 725 is considered “good”
- Between 510 and 621 is considered “average”
- Anyone with a credit score below 510 is considered “below average” meaning that it’s thought to be more likely they will experience an adverse event such as a default, bankruptcy or court judgment in the next 12 months.
If you decide to go with Experian as your credit bureau of choice, you’ll receive a credit score between 0 and 1,000. Experian uses the following bands to rank credit scores:
- 800-1,000 is considered “excellent”
- 700-799 is considered “very good”
- 625-699 is considered “good”
- 550-624 is considered “fair”
- 0-549 is considered “weak”
Credit Simple (aka Illion, formerly Dun & Bradstreet)
Credit Simple/Illion uses a 0-1000 rating scale, and they advise that when it comes to their credit scoring system:
- Most scores are between 300 and 850
- 1-299 is a ‘low score’
- A score between 300 and 499 means you have ‘room to improve’
- A ‘good score’ is >500
- 500-699 is ‘average’
- 700-799 is ‘great’
- 800 or more is fantastic
What do I do if I have a poor credit score?
Equifax notes that while you may have trouble qualifying for credit or a loan with a credit score below 580, there’s no “magic number” at which you’ll automatically become eligible for any given loan or credit product. Everyone’s financial situation is different, and your credit score isn’t the only thing a lender will take into account when deciding whether to approve you for a loan or other type of credit.
Additionally, some lenders offer products specifically designed for individuals with poor credit who may have trouble getting approved for regular loans or credit products – but Canstar Group Executive, Financial Services Steve Mickenbecker has warned against seeking out these products if you’re already on shaky ground.
“Don’t jump from the frying pan into the fire,” he says, noting that “you expect to pay a higher interest rate than otherwise”, and that “taking on a very high rate loan will make it difficult to stay on track with your repayments and may just aggravate the problem.”
If you want to know more about applying for loans when you have a poor credit rating, you can read our guides on:
- Getting a credit card with bad credit
- Getting a home loan with bad credit
- Getting a car loan with bad credit
If you’re struggling with a high-interest credit card, a balance transfer – if used wisely – may be an effective way of managing that debt and making it easier to pay off.
The table below displays a snapshot of credit cards with 0% balance transfer offers on Canstar’s database, with links to providers’ websites. These results are sorted by the length of the 0% balance transfer period (longest to shortest), then provider name (alphabetically).
But as Mr Mickenbecker has suggested, you may want to consider putting your plans for further credit or a loan on hold in favour of taking some time to try and improve your credit score. He notes that if you do have an ongoing repayment arrangement “the best remedy is to make your forward repayment history impeccable.”
He says the best way to do so is to “never miss your repayment due date” because paying your debts back on time “will go a way to getting your credit history back on track.”
If you want to know more, you can click the link below to visit our Credit Score Information Hub.