How to understand your Equifax credit score and report

Finance Journalist · 4 November 2020
Lenders look at your credit score to help them decide whether to give you credit or a loan. Credit reporting agencies, such as Equifax, allow you to check your credit report and your credit score.

→ You can check your credit score for free

What is Equifax?

Equifax is one of three major credit reporting bodies in Australia, along with Experian and Illion. Through Equifax, you can get your credit score, as well as a copy of your credit report. Your credit report is a record of your credit history and includes information about any credit or loan products you’ve had, your repayment history, applications for credit or loans, and any bankruptcies, defaults or court judgments you’ve had.

You can check your Equifax credit score directly through Equifax or you can go through other providers who use Equifax credit score information, such as Canstar.

Equifax credit reports and scores

Equifax can provide you with a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months. You can also get a free copy of your credit report if you have been declined credit in the past 90 days or if you had an item corrected on your Equifax credit report.

If you don’t meet the criteria for a free credit report, you can pay for a once-off copy of your report or you can sign-up to a paid plan. This can provide up to 12 credit reports a year and your credit score monthly.

What is a good Equifax credit score?

Your Equifax credit score is a number between 0 and 1,200. Generally, the higher your credit score is, the better your credit profile and the lower your credit risk is. Equifax credit scores are arranged into five different bands, with each band representing a level of credit-worthiness to the lender:

Excellent Very Good Good Average Below Average
Equifax Credit Score 841 – 1,200 756 – 840 666 – 755 506 – 665 0 – 505
Source: Equifax
  • Excellent (841-1,200) means that you are in the top 20% of the population who uses credit regularly, according to Equifax. You are seen as highly unlikely to have an adverse event such as a default, court judgment or bankruptcy recorded on your credit file in the next 12 months. In other words, you have a higher chance of keeping a clean credit report and may be more likely to receive approval for credit products.
  • Very good (756-840) means you are seen as unlikely to experience an adverse event in the next 12 months, and you have higher credit trustworthiness than average.
  • Good (666-755) means you are seen as less likely than average to experience an adverse event in the next 12 months. In other words, you have a better than average chance of recording no adverse events.
  • Average (506-665) means an adverse event is likely in the next 12 months when compared to the wider population.
  • Below average (0-505) means you are in the bottom 20% of the credit-active population and are more likely to have an adverse event in the next 12 months than the wider population, on average.

Essentially, the higher your Equifax credit score, the less likely it is that lenders will think an adverse event (such as a missed payment) will happen within the next 12 months, and you could have a better relative chance of being approved for a credit or loan product.

How does Equifax calculate your credit score?

Equifax calculates your credit score based on the information in your credit report at the time your score is requested. In addition to looking at your repayment history and any adverse events, such as overdue debts and court judgments, Equifax says it also takes into account factors such as:

  • The type of credit providers you have applied to in the past – for example, non-traditional lenders may have a different level of risk than banks and credit unions.
  • The type and size of credit requested in your application – for example, a mortgage may have a different level of risk compared to a credit card or a personal loan.
  • The number and pattern of credit enquiries you have made – for example, if you shop around for credit and apply to multiple providers in a short amount of time, this can have a negative impact on your credit score.
  • Your personal details, such as your age, length of employment and how long you’ve lived your current address.
  • The age of your credit report – for example, a new file with little credit information may be different to an older file with a longer credit history.

How can I improve my Equifax credit score?

Your credit score is based on the information that is available at the time it is calculated. This means it can change as new information, both positive and negative, is added. Negative information on your file, like defaults, will also drop off after a certain period of time.

If you’re wanting to improve your credit score, Equifax recommends taking the following steps:

  • Make sure you pay your loans and bills on time – you may want to schedule direct debits to help with this.
  • Do your homework before applying for credit or a loan – making multiple applications within a short amount of time will be recorded on your credit report and can signal to lenders that you are in credit stress.
  • If you move to a different address, notify your lenders and update your details – this can help ensure that no bills slip through the cracks.
  • If you are having difficulty making your repayments, speak to your lender – they may be able to assist you so you don’t fall behind.
  • Regularly check your credit report and make sure the information in your credit report is correct. If something is wrong, you can contact Equifax to have it changed.

Credit reporting bodies may have different information about you, so you may want to access a copy of your credit report from more than one body. For inaccuracies in your credit report with other major credit reporting bodies in Australia, you can contact them directly to have it changed. This is free to do. It can be particularly beneficial to check that all the credit and loans listed on a report are yours. If you do not recognise a debt, this could be a sign of identity theft.

You can find more tips in our article on how to work to improve your credit score. 

Learn more about credit scores

You can find out more about credit scores through Canstar’s Credit Score Hub:

This article was reviewed by our Sub Editor Jacqueline Belesky and Finance Editor Sean Callery before it was published, as part of our fact-checking process.

Main image source: Mavo (Shutterstock). 

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