What is a credit report?
Simply put, a credit report – anywhere in the world – is a detailed history of your financial life.
What is a credit score?
Credit scores are simply numerical expressions that show how creditworthy you are.
Looking for the answer to a specific question? Check out any of these sections to get straight to the point:
Think about it for a second; you wouldn’t loan money to someone you didn’t know – or didn’t know anything about, would you? Financial institutions feel the same way.
Since we’ve moved past the days when community banks considered the personal reputation of a borrower, we need another way to determine the financial reliability of borrowers.
That’s precisely the motivation behind credit reporting and credit reports.
If you’re considering an international masters degree and need additional financing, your lender probably requested your credit report.
But if it’s not part and parcel of your financial life, it’s easy to become confused about why you need a credit report, what it is, and where to get your hands on one.
What is a credit report and why is it important?
Your credit report is a catalogue of the way you have managed your debts in the past.
It’s a record of how much debt you have taken out and your history of paying off your bills on time and if there’s been any record of adverse actions against you for not taking care of your debt obligations on time.
Prodigy Finance uses credit reports as a way to understand an applicant’s creditworthiness; they're the most reliable way of understanding an applicant’s credit obligation and include important details like an individual’s name and address.
How to obtain your credit report
Credit bureaus or credit reporting agencies are the organisations that create detailed credit reports. You can obtain your credit report through the relevant credit bureaus in your country.
Tips on how to get a credit report
- In some countries, like the United States and South Africa, credit bureaus are legally required to provide free access to your personal credit report. You may be limited to one report per year, but be sure to check before paying for a report.
- Certain countries like China, Russia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates require a bit more patience to obtain a credit report. It’s best to get started as early as you can to avoid processing delays.
- In Brazil, you’ll find a variety of private and public reporting agencies, but Serasa and Boa Vista Servicos are the most commonly used.
- The situation is similar in India. The most established credit bureau is CIBIL, created by the Government of India and the RBI in 2000. More recently, Experian and High Mark Credit Information Services have entered the Indian market.
- In cases where you can’t obtain your credit report from a particular credit bureau; there are always alternatives. For example, In India - if CIBIL is not able to generate credit reports you can always try High Mark and Experian.
- Some leading banks around the world now allow you to obtain a report from their online/net banking feature.
- If you still face issues obtaining a report, please reach out to us immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll help to resolve.
Understanding your credit score
Credit scores are usually expressed as a number on a scale that demonstrates your creditworthiness.
The scale varies between countries and sometimes between the credit bureau responsible for data collection. Information is collected from your accounts regarding your payment history against credit you’ve previously received.
In the US, your FICO score ranges on a scale between 300 and 850, where anything over 720 is considered excellent.
All three credit bureaus develop a credit score on this scale based on the information they have regarding your financial life. There is a clear formula for determining the score based on payment history, debt ratio, length of credit history, types of credit, and hard credit enquires (those requested by potential creditors).
By contrast, in the UK, which also has three credit reporting agencies, you can expect a different scale depending on the bureau. Experian scores range between zero and 999 (with 881 used as the base for exceptional), while Equifax’s scale only goes up to 710 (467 is the excellence cut-off), and Callcredit simply rates individuals between one and five – with five being the best.
Regardless of the scale used, scores are based on electoral roll information, court records, hard credit enquiries, and reported account information.
Credit reporting is different across countries
The information you would see on a US or UK credit report isn’t the same as you find in other countries. As each country’s banking system developed, national credit reporting norms grew up around them.
In France, for example, there’s a history of reporting only the negative aspects of a person’s credit. You find similar practices in Portugal and Spain. This was previously the case in Australia, for example, though recent legislation is transforming the reports.
In some countries governed by Islamic principles lending presents hurdles that have prevented the development of a robust credit reporting system. In the United Arab Emirates, the first credit reporting bureau, Al Etihad, was only established in 2012 – and the first reports were only available online in 2015.
In contrast, Singapore and Hong Kong (China) have credit reporting systems that surpass those found in the United States and the United Kingdom.
If you have questions about credit reporting in your country, speak to the credit bureau or your bank manager to learn more.
Credit reporting is non-transferable
We’re sorry to say, but the wonderful credit score you built up in your home country doesn’t transfer across international borders. Just because Canada and the United States share a border, doesn't mean they share credit reporting standards.
That’s true even though you’ll find key independent reporting agencies, such as Equifax and TransUnion, operate in both countries. Indeed, you’ll discover that these companies, along with Experian, provide credit reports in dozens of countries.
If you’ve never obtained a credit report before, you’ll want to see if any of these companies operate in your country before investigating other options; they understand credit reporting, customer service, and country regulations.
But, they still can’t transfer your credit rating from one country to another because every country, as we’ve seen, has different reporting standards.
Your credit report and your Prodigy Finance loan
If you take a loan from a financial institution in your home country, you may not need to obtain a credit report; your bank is likely to handle that directly.
However, if you want a loan from a bank in your host country, you'll need to get a credit report, and there may be stipulations regarding the time frame.
Credit reports are required documents for Prodigy Finance borrowers. Our borderless lending model enables financing and tracking across supported countries, which makes credit reports crucial for determining loan viability.
You will need to upload a copy of your credit report after receiving and accepting your provisional offer. It’s not the only document that’s needed, of course, but it’s impossible to proceed to the next step without it.
Prodigy Finance assesses credit reports based on norms established by the country of origin – not according to the standards of the country of study.
Credit reports versus credit score for loans
Because credit reporting is not consistent across all countries, at Prodigy Finance we consider your credit history over your credit score.
As a responsible lender, we want to ensure our community members have taken care of their debt obligations in a reliable way.
So, don’t worry if you have never taken out any credit cards or loans before having a low score or a no score won’t hurt your Prodigy Finance loan application.
Having a history of missed payments or a bankruptcy; however, may hurt your chances but it’s important to note that we always give you an opportunity to explain what may have happened in the past to inhibit you from paying your debt obligations on time.
What if I have no credit history or credit score?
We always will need to understand the applicant’s relationship to credit.
If you don’t have any credit, the credit bureau will issue you a report that states you have no record of any credit – this may negatively impact your ability to get a loan with Prodigy Finance, but it doesn’t make it impossible.
Want to build your credit?
For students heading to the US, in particular, having a credit history is incredibly important.
Not only do banks check your credit report before approving you for a credit card or auto loan, sometimes landlords will review your credit reports to decide whether or not to rent an apartment to you.
Plan on working at a bank or law firm?
Often an employer will check your credit report as a part of the application process.
Your credit affects many parts of your life, and if you’re heading to the US, this credit-building guide will help you on your way.
Ready to get a Prodigy Finance loan?
Prodigy Finance provides collateral-free loans to international masters students. Find out what offer you can get.
Prodigy Finance Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Post updated for accuracy and freshness on March 2, 2020. Originally published on April 3 2017.