Find out who can get credit and who might be declined, and where you can access your credit records.

Credit providers check your history of past borrowing

Your credit record is a history about your past borrowing, such as the total amounts you borrowed and whether you made your repayments on time. It also includes your non-financial credit, which covers products or services that you receive before payment such as power, internet and phone services.

Both financial and non-financial credit providers use the credit reporting system to get credit reports on individuals before they extend credit. It lists defaults where individuals have failed to repay a loan or meet their bills.

Positive credit reporting (also called comprehensive credit reporting) includes defaults and payments you make on time to lenders, power companies and mobile phone providers etc. If you have a good credit history, it makes it easier for you to get a loan or switch lenders.

Information is taken from different sources such as your credit card, power and telephone accounts and supplied to the lender who may be a trader or finance company.

Haven’t used credit before?

If you haven’t used credit before, the lender may ask you to complete a credit application with your employment details and other relevant financial details.

Know your rights

When New Zealand businesses collect, use, store or disclose your personal information, they must follow the Privacy Act rules.

Your rights under the Privacy Act.

They also have to follow strict rules about credit reporting under the Credit Reporting Privacy Code(external link) .

For a summary of your rights on credit reporting, see Credit reporting: consumer rights(external link) on the Privacy Commissioner’s website.

Credit reporting rules apply to any agency that collects credit and personal information from credit providers and publicly available sources such as a credit reporter. The credit reporter then sells this information, which lenders can use to assess the credit worthiness of individuals.

Lenders must apply the Lender Responsibility Principles before they provide credit to a consumer and during the life of a credit contract.

Responsible Lending Code

Read the Commerce Commission’s fact sheet on how the changes to consumer law apply to contracts(external link) .

Check your credit record is accurate. You might need a good credit record to get a loan, some types of jobs, or rental accommodation

Your credit history changes regularly. Although most credit checks can take place only with your consent, it’s important that your credit record is accurate, otherwise you may not be able to get credit easily or at all. Your credit record can also affect your opportunities with employment, renting, and insurance.

There are maximum periods for which various types of information can stay on your credit history. For example, defaults can remain for five years and records of missed repayments for two years. Even if you've since taken steps to sort out an issue, the record will still show the defaults together with any payments made since then.

You can get a free written copy of your credit history from credit reporting companies. If a credit reporter has generated a credit score for you, you can ask the reporter to explain it. If you want the information within five working days, you may have to pay a reasonable charge.

Contact the credit reporter

If your credit record is wrong or inaccurate, you can ask to get your information corrected under the Privacy Act. Credit reporters must take reasonable steps to ensure the information they hold is accurate, and promptly correct any errors they become aware of (within 20 working days). They will usually check the information you provide with the source.

If the correction you asked for is not made, you must be told why. You can also ask for a note of your request to be added to your file. This note will be included with future reports.

If a correction is made, the credit reporter must tell anyone who has recently received your credit report. The credit reporter must tell you what they have done and give you a copy of the amended report.

If you believe a credit reporter has breached the Credit Reporting Privacy Code(external link) , you should first approach that credit reporter directly. Each credit reporter must have their own simple, fair and efficient complaints procedure.

Need more help?

Contact us for more guidance.

Common situations

Example 1

During the past three months, Jane applied for two credit cards, and one loan to pay for a car. In the end, she decided to take up one credit card and a small loan for her car. A credit reporter who is compiling her credit record might see that Jane has only taken out one credit card and a small loan, and has a satisfactory repayment history. If Jane applies for more credit, a credit provider will have a better picture of her current arrangements and can assess her credit options more accurately.

Example 2

Until May 2015, Max always paid his bills on time and never defaulted on any loans. Unfortunately, he moved flats and did not receive his credit card statement for three consecutive months, meaning he missed some payments, which led to a default being listed. Once he corrected his address details, he put the account back in order, and by July 2015 he was up to-date. Lenders may be more willing to give him credit because they can see he is no longer missing any payments.

Example 3

Jack had a personal loan with a bank. Even though he'd been meeting all his repayments, he received a default notice on his loan. Due to a processing error, his payments had not been credited to his loan for two months. The bank fixed the problem and adjusted the interest charged. Jack paid out the personal loan about a year later.

When Jack applied for a starter home loan two years later, his application was rejected because of the old default listing. Jack contacted the bank and asked them to correct the listing, which they did. He reapplied for his home loan and got it.