Personal Finance

How to Check Credit Score: A Comprehensive Guide on Understanding and Improving Your Credit Report

October 11, 2023

Understanding how credit reports work in Singapore is essential, especially when it comes to financial transactions and lending decisions. The information in your credit report plays a crucial role in determining your eligibility for loans and your capacity to handle your finances effectively.

In this guide, we will delve into the mechanics of credit reports in Singapore, including how to check credit score Singapore in 2023.

What Is A Credit Report?

A credit report in Singapore is a comprehensive record of your past credit transactions from various providers. It offers insights into your punctuality in settling payments and highlights instances where you may have delayed them.

The Credit Bureau Singapore (CBS) generates these credit card reports within Singapore. These reports are inclusive of complete data submissions from major financial institutions and all retail banks.

Apart from offering a snapshot of your financial status, credit card reports play a crucial role for credit providers. When you approach lenders for a loan, they refer to your credit report to gauge your creditworthiness. This helps them decide whether you qualify for the loan.

Where Can I Get My Credit Report?

Obtaining your credit report is a straightforward process. There are two convenient methods to obtain it:

  • Via The Internet

If you’re a resident of Singapore, acquiring your credit report online is easy. Send an email to [email protected] and include the necessary identification documents. The documents include:

  • For Singapore residents, attach both the front and back of your National Registration Identity Card (NRIC).
  • Foreigners should attach the front and back of their Work Pass and passport issued by Singapore Government Authorities. For those with a Digital Pass, include the Dependant’s Pass/Student’s Pass/Long-Term Visit Pass and Passport.

It is important to note that the service is temporarily unavailable during month end from 12-7 am and daily from 5-6 am due to routine maintenance.

  • At Specific Physical Locations

You can also obtain your credit report in person at designated locations. These locations include:

  • SingPost branches
  • Credit Bureau office

SingPost Branches

There are over 57 SingPost branches across Singapore where you can submit your application form. Once Credit Bureau Singapore (CBS) receives your application form from a SingPost branch, they will process it and send you your credit report through your chosen delivery method within one business day from receipt of all necessary documents.

Credit Bureau Office

After completing the application form and undergoing the necessary verification process, CBS will promptly process your request. You can opt to collect either a softcopy or hardcopy right away or alternatively request delivery via registered mail.

How Much Does It Cost To Get My Credit Report?

Obtaining your credit report in Singapore comes at a cost of $8.00, inclusive of prevailing GST. If you opt for multiple delivery modes, an additional fee of $2.02 will be applied.

For those choosing the express service at any SingPost branch when applying for a CBS Credit Report, the charge is $19.44. The soft copy of the report will be dispatched to your designated email address within 2 hours of your application at a SingPost Branch.

Credit Bureau Singapore (CBS) offers various payment options for your convenience. You can make payments using Mastercard, Visa, eNets, or cash. Cash payments can be made directly at their office, while Mastercard, Visa, and eNets payments can be completed online.

You can also obtain a free credit report. This applies only if you have recently applied for new credit facilities with any of CBS’s members. In the notification letter regarding the status of your application (whether it has been approved or rejected), there will be guidance on how to redeem your complimentary credit report. You can do this redemption within 30 calendar days, which starts from the day of receiving the letter.

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What Is A Credit Score? Specifically, What Is A CBS Credit Score?

A CBS Credit Score is a numerical representation, typically comprising four digits, derived from your historical payment performance on various loan accounts. It’s important to note that this number is subject to fluctuations over time, influenced by alterations in your credit card details, and is computed based on the latest available credit information.

A robust credit score approaching 2000 signifies a favourable financial health, indicating a minimal likelihood of default. Conversely, a score of around 1000 suggests a higher risk of defaulting. This score serves as an indicator of your creditworthiness and financial stability.

A Step-by-step Guide To Reading A Credit Report In Singapore

Understanding a credit report in Singapore can be complex due to its abundance of information and specialised terminology. However, here’s a simplified guide to help you navigate through the key sections and interpret them effectively:

Account Status History

This highly technical section displays the type of financial products a borrower holds, whether individually or jointly. These products encompass various credit facilities such as mortgage loans, personal loans, car loans, secured credit cards and unsecured credit cards with a lower credit limit held with financial institutions and CBS member banks.

It provides a comprehensive view of your payment patterns over the last 12 months, capturing every detail, including cash advances.

Additionally, it includes payment codes indicating the timeliness of your monthly instalment payments. Be aware that overdue balances and poor payment patterns can have a negative impact on your credit score.

Previous Enquiries

This section records a borrower’s credit facility application history over the past two years. An enquiry could involve a review for a guarantor, an application for a new credit facility, or an assessment by a CBS member bank of your existing credit facilities.

Too many new applications within a short period, known as “credit hunger,” can negatively impact your credit score, particularly if driven by an urgent need for funds. However, simply retrieving your credit report does not impact your credit score.

It’s encouraged for borrowers to review their credit reports regularly to gain a better understanding of their credit standing.

Default Records

This section covers your credit payment history, specifically outlining any instances of defaulting on a payment as reported by lenders. Defaults occur when a borrower faces payment challenges, leading to the deterioration of payment codes.

Details of defaults are retained for 3 years. This section clearly outlines the types of products and indicates the CBS member bank associated with each.

Bankruptcy

A borrower with a bankruptcy record is assigned a non-scored grade: HX. This can significantly hinder loan approvals, and rebuilding the credit score may take several years. Bankruptcy records are retained in the credit report for 5 years from the date of discharge.

Is Credit Score Important In Singapore?

Yes, in Singapore, your credit score holds significant importance. Banks rely on your credit score to assess the likelihood of you repaying a loan. Therefore, it’s crucial to maintain a favourable credit score if you intend to apply for a loan from a bank.

This importance extends to applying for an HDB loan as well. If you’re not a full-time employee with regular CPF contributions, HDB will review your Credit Bureau Singapore credit report to gauge your ability to service the loan before issuing the HDB loan eligibility letter (HLE).

Furthermore, when considering applications for new credit cards, loans, credit lines, or renovation loans, your credit score plays a pivotal role in the approval process.

Some employers conduct pre-hire employment checks with CBS, especially those adhering to MAS’ Fit and Proper Guidelines. As a result, your credit reputation may influence the employer’s decision to hire you.

Additionally, banks and other financial institutions in Singapore may also assess their prospective employees’ credit scores before hiring them to ensure financial responsibility.

How Is My Credit Score Determined? What Causes A Bad Credit Score In Singapore?

Your credit score is determined by Credit Bureau Singapore (CBS) through the application of a specialised algorithm to your current available credit data.

However, it’s important to note that your credit score is subject to change over time due to various factors. Some of these factors include:

  • Credit exposure: The amount of credit you currently have and how responsibly you manage it can impact your credit score.
  • Insufficient clean history: A lack of a positive credit history, with minimal or no record of responsible credit use, can result in a lower credit score.
  • Immature credit history: A relatively short credit history can make establishing a strong credit score challenging. Building a longer history of responsible credit use can improve your score.
  • Presence of delinquency: Late payments, missed payments, or defaults on credit obligations can significantly harm your credit score, especially if they involve a significant number of credit accounts.
  • Adverse credit history: Past incidents of bankruptcy, legal actions, or debt settlements can negatively affect your credit score. It is crucial to make prompt repayments to maintain a positive credit standing.
  • Excessive inquiries: Frequent and recent credit inquiries, especially when applying for multiple credit accounts within a short period, can indicate credit hunger and may lower your credit score.

Why Do Some Banks In Singapore Reject While Others Approve The Same Applicant With The Same Credit Score?

The reason for varying approval outcomes among banks in Singapore for the same applicant with the same credit score stems from the absence of a standardised or universally accepted credit score across lenders.

Each lender considers creditworthiness based on its specific factors and risk preferences. In Singapore, every financial institution operates with its distinct risk profile and internal credit scoring system, which relies on a borrower’s financial and demographic information.

This personalised approach allows banks to make lending decisions that align with their risk assessment practices.

How Can I Improve My Credit Score In Singapore, And How Long Does It Take?

Even if your credit score has been affected by a less-than-perfect repayment history, there are steps you can take to improve it. Here are some tailored tips for enhancing your credit score in Singapore:

  • Maintain at least one active credit card
  • Avoid excessive applications for loans or credit cards in a short span
  • Consistently pay bills on time

There’s no definitive period for guaranteed improvement in your credit score. However, you’ll likely observe a positive shift in your credit profile after a few months of consistent and punctual repayments.

Remember that improvement is a gradual process, and maintaining good financial habits over time is key to sustaining a favourable credit score in the long run. If applying for new credit has become difficult due to a declining credit score, consider exploring the option of either securing an unsecured credit card with a modest credit limit or opting for a secured credit card as a means to initiate the process of restoring your credit standing.

Is There Anything In My Credit Report In Singapore That Cannot Be Remedied?

Certain issues in your credit report in Singapore, such as bankruptcy, participation in debt management programs, and instances of default, can have a significant and lasting impact.

These aspects may not have immediate remedies and can have long-term repercussions on your creditworthiness. It’s important to approach such situations with careful financial planning and seek professional advice when necessary.

Irremediable Issues Like Bankruptcy And Default In Singapore

Unrecoverable issues, such as bankruptcy and defaults in Singapore, have a lasting impact on your credit report. Instances of default are displayed for 3 years on your report, while bankruptcy records are retained for 5 years.

This means that even after being discharged from bankruptcy, you may encounter difficulties securing a loan for several years. It’s crucial to be aware of these implications and plan your financial decisions accordingly.

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Conclusion

Having gained insight into how to check credit score Singapore and understood the intricacies of credit reports, you are now equipped to navigate the financial landscape wisely.

Remember, maintaining a healthy credit profile is vital for securing loans and managing your finances effectively.

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