Did you know that Australian expats need to have an excellent Australian credit score in order to qualify for a home loan in Oz? Lenders even have special requirements that you must meet as an overseas resident, which makes getting a mortgage difficult if you have a bad credit score.
The first thing to note is that your credit score in the US has no direct impact or influence over your credit score in Australia. There are similarities between the two, but there are also some key differences in the way they are calculated and used.
This guide will help you understand the basics about your Australian credit score, the credit bureaus and providers in Australia, and other information about your credit report. Here’s what you need to know.
Since credit scores are not transferable from country to country, you need to maintain a separate credit score in Australia if you live in the USA.
In general, you MUST have a local credit score to obtain a home loan in Australia. However, as an Australian expat living overseas, you need to present a good credit score to even consider good financing options.
Australian expats who do not have an Australian credit score or those who have a bad one may face several roadblocks that could potentially disqualify them from Australian mortgages. Some of these challenges can include:
- Additional restrictions or criteria while applying for certain home loans
- Inflated interest rates
- Losing certain home loan discounts, such as stamp duty exemption
Thus, it’s important to understand that your credit score matters if you are an expat who wants to buy property in Australia.
We’ve previously covered credit scores, so let’s move on to the key elements that make up your credit score in Australia. We've highlighted five pieces of information you need to know about your Australian credit report.
- Personal information: The personal information page on your credit report includes details about your name, date of birth, employer, address, and tax ID number.
- Credit history: Your credit history details your open accounts, including opening and closing dates, credit limits, balances, and payout history. Your credit history also provides crucial information, such as when you failed to make payments.
- Credit inquiries: When companies such as mortgage lenders or credit card companies look at your credit report, it's recorded as a credit inquiry, and too many can lower your credit score.
- Public records: It's important to avoid public records, like bankruptcies and tax liens, which can stay on your report for up to ten years, and significantly lower your score.
- Personal statements: While not necessary, including a personal statement on your report can provide context for other sections. However, remember that personal statements do not affect your credit score.
As an Australian expat, you can check your credit score using one of the many credit bureaus or providers found worldwide. Here are a few of the top biggest paid and free credit bureaus to help you get your credit score in Oz.
- Equifax: Equifax, one of the largest credit bureaus in the world, can compile a comprehensive report about you and use it to generate a precise credit report that reflects your credit history. This report includes your existing credit arrangements. During the initial 30-day trial period, you may access their credit reporting services, which will later convert to a paid subscription.
- Illion: Illion is an innovative credit bureau in Australia and New Zealand that offers marketing optimization and analytics software as its primary service. They also provide a free credit check service, including a free credit score report. It is free to use with a quick and easy sign-up process.
- Experian: Experian, another major credit bureau, offers a comprehensive credit report to its clients that includes personal information, financial history, and other details, along with an accurate credit score. Although it’s possible to access your credit score from Experian without paying, you can purchase a one-time report or paid subscription (including a 7-day trial) if you require an in-depth credit score analysis.
- GetCreditScore: GetCreditScore is a free credit score provider with a user-friendly website and reporting process. To obtain a credit score check, you must first create an account, which typically takes about a minute. After that, you must verify your identity, confirm your account via email, and input your financial details to receive your credit score.
- Credit Savvy: Credit Savvy is a popular credit provider known for its fast and effortless process. The credit service requires you to follow three simple steps. Firstly, you must create an account, followed by verifying your identification, and lastly, you can check your credit score. Furthermore, Credit Savvy allows you to access your credit score and report tracking for free, which includes a comprehensive score breakdown.
As an expat or non-resident in Australia, a credit score between 700 and 800 qualifies you for several home loan types, features and benefits. What’s more, if you can get a score above 800, you can comfortably apply for the best home loan deals with most lenders.
This may seem like a difficult goal to achieve for someone living outside Australia, but it is not impossible. By paying close attention to your credit score and building good credit habits, you can gradually improve your credit score and apply for more competitive home loans.
How can Aussie Expats improve their Australian credit score?
Here are some tips and habits to increase your credit score.
- Check your credit report for errors: Go through your credit report thoroughly for misinformation and errors. You can then report your findings, so you don't get a lower credit score. This is pretty basic but is an essential step to improve your score.
- Pay your bills on time: It’s common to miss a deadline or two when paying your bills but this can start biting you back if it becomes a habit. Keep track of your bills and schedule your payments to ensure they’re paid on time. Moreover, estimating your bill payments beforehand will help ensure you have enough money in your account to make payments in the future.
- Pay off your debt regularly: Debt isn't necessarily bad, so long as you have it under control. In fact, regularly paying off debt to meet the minimum monthly repayments on personal or credit cards proves your financial management skills. You can also improve your credit score by paying off as much as possible to decrease interest charges.
- Build up your credit history: Typically, people save money for unexpected emergencies that may require immediate funds. However, in addition to providing financial security, this cushion can also positively impact your credit score by enabling you to make timely bill payments with greater flexibility.
- Lower your monthly credit utilization: Credit utilization refers to the amount of available credit you use every month. High credit utilization can display poor financial management skills, so it is recommended that you keep your credit utilization as low as you can. Utilizing too much of your credit limit could negatively impact your credit score and decrease lenders' confidence in you.
The time it takes for you to improve your credit score depends on your initial score. While we can’t give a guarantee, for expats with a low credit score, possibly due to a negative credit history, achieving a high score may take more than a year.
Worried about your credit score affecting your eligibility for a home loan in Australia? Instead of speaking to a bank, it may be a better idea to speak to a professional expat mortgage broker who can better assess your situation, and give you the best options available to you as an expat in the US.
Odin Mortgage specializes in helping Australian expats living in the USA with their Australian mortgages. If you are someone looking to invest in property back home as part of your investment strategy or as your retirement plan, their advice can help you maximize your borrowing capacity and get you your ideal property.