How to understand your Experian credit score & report


Your credit score is a reflection of how reliable you are seen to be as a borrower. To view your score, you can ask for a report from a credit reporting agency such as Experian.

→ You can check your credit score for free with Canstar

What is Experian?

Experian describes itself as a global information services company that provides data and analytical tools to clients around the world. According to its website, Experian currently has over 12,000 clients internationally and aims to help individuals with their finances and to access financial services. It is one of the three biggest credit reporting bodies in Australia, along with Equifax and Illion

Experian credit reports and scores

One of the financial services that Experian provides is a free credit report. This report includes information such as your credit history, the credit accounts you hold and your Experian credit score, Experian states. 

When you apply for a credit product such as a home loan, a credit card or a personal loan, the lender will generally use your credit score to help it decide whether you are a reliable person to lend money to. According to Experian’s website, an Experian credit score is a representation of how a credit provider may see the information on your credit history report. Your credit score is not fixed, however – it can go up and down over time – and it is only one factor lenders consider when assessing a credit application.

Ordinarily, there are two ways you can receive your Experian credit report – by email or by post. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Experian’s post channel for ordering a credit report is “currently unavailable until further notice.” Experian advises that you can still request a report by email, or you can call it if you prefer during its business hours. Either way, Experian says you’ll need to provide a completed copy of an Experian Credit Report Request Form, proof of your identity and address, and a contact number. You can fill the form out online via Experian’s website if you choose to order your report via email. Once you’ve submitted your order, Experian says you’ll receive your credit report within 10 working days.

Canstar’s free credit score tool allows you to check your credit score with one of Experian’s fellow credit reporting bureaus, Equifax.

What is a good Experian credit score?

Experian rates credit scores on the following scale, from 0 to 1,000:

Excellent 800-1,000 This indicates a credit score that is well above average
Very Good 700-799 A credit score within this range is above average
Good 625-699 This is the average credit score range, Experian says
Fair 550-624 This is a fair credit score and is slightly below the average
Below Average 0-549 A credit score within this range is likely to be considered poor by a credit provider.
Source: Experian

The higher your Experian credit score is, the more likely you are to be approved by a lender or credit provider, based on Experian’s calculations. This is because there is thought to be less chance of an adverse event, such as a default on your payments, within the next 12 months. However, as Experian states on its website, your credit score is “only a portion of what is considered” when a lender assesses your credit application, meaning other factors such as your income and wider financial situation can also be important.

Experian is one of several credit score providers in Australia, so your numerical ranking may differ depending on which credit reporting agency you go through.

How does Experian calculate your credit score?

Experian says it calculates your credit score by applying a statistical algorithm, which uses past events to predict future behaviour.

While each credit score provider uses a slightly different algorithm to calculate credit scores and may have varying assessment criteria, Experian says the key factors for generating a credit score include:

  • The types of credit provider that have made enquiries on your report
  • The type of product or products you have applied for
  • Your repayment history
  • The credit limit of each of your credit products
  • The number of credit enquiries you’ve made in the past
  • The number of negative events you’ve experienced, if any (such as late payments or loan defaults)

What can have a negative impact on your Experian credit score?

Experian also says that the following could have a negative impact on your Experian credit score:

  • Making a large number of credit applications in a short space of time
  • Having open accounts with debt collection agencies
  • Taking out short-term credit, such as payday loans
  • Defaults or missed payments
  • Bankruptcy actions
  • Court judgements

How can I improve my Experian credit score?

If you are looking to improve your credit score, Experian recommends taking the following steps:

  • Make payments reliably: Consistently making your mortgage, loan and credit card repayments when they’re due will help to strengthen your credit score. If you do miss a payment, Experian suggests ensuring that you catch up within the 14-day ‘grace period’ before it is reported as a default.
  • Avoid multiple late payments: Consecutively missing payments and paying bills late can negatively impact your credit score. If possible, avoid missing payments to the point where debt collection agencies become involved.
  • Avoid negative entries on your credit report: Negative entries such as defaults, court judgements, having open accounts with debt collection agencies and excessive credit enquiries may also have a negative impact on your credit score.
  • Regularly check your credit report: Regularly check the information on your credit file to ensure that the new data that is included in it is correct. 

Experian says that improving your credit score takes time and careful management, but adds that the higher your credit score, the better your chances are of getting your credit application approved.

To find out more about credit scores, how they work, and the impact yours could have on your finances, visit our credit score information hub. 

Main image source: (Shutterstock)

This article was reviewed by our Sub Editor Tom Letts before it was updated, as part of our fact-checking process.

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