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How to Build a Strong Credit History When Living in Australia as a Nigerian

30 Jan 2024


Nigerians are one of the fastest-growing migrant communities in Australia. Most of these have traveled so far from home to work hard and be able to send money from Australia to Nigeria so that they can support their loved ones by earning in a stronger currency.     
 

For Nigerian expatriates in Australia, establishing a solid credit history is critical in managing your financial affairs. It affects your ability to get loans and credit cards and even impacts rental and employment opportunities. Understanding and navigating the Australian credit system can be challenging, especially starting from scratch. This detailed guide aims to break down the process, providing in-depth insights and actionable steps to build a strong credit history in Australia.             

Starting Your Credit Journey in Australia   

Opening a bank account is the first step towards establishing your financial presence in Australia. Once you set up your account, you can apply for a credit card and use it for your daily needs.        

Open a Local Bank Account   

Opening a bank account in Australia is essential to establishing your financial presence. It is crucial to choose a bank that offers easy integration for foreigners. This account will be your go-to for all financial transactions, from receiving your salary to paying your bills. For instance, if you are a Nigerian residing in Sydney, you can open an account with ANZ or any other bank to receive your compensation and pay your monthly expenses to establish your financial presence.   
 

A local bank account is handy if you wish to make frequent money transfers from Australia to Nigeria. Don't worry! Trusted services like ACE Money Transfer allow you to send money using its bank transfers.     

Applying for a Credit Card       

When applying for your first credit card, begin with a low-limit credit card and use it for regular, small purchases. Pay the complete monthly balance to avoid interest and build your credit history. This way, you can make your credit history and improve your credit score.  

Understanding the Australian Credit System

The Australian credit system can be complex and confusing to navigate. It is essential to understand the various types of credit systems available in Australia, especially credit cards, so that you know your credit score and which lenders use to determine your creditworthiness.    
 

Credit Score Fundamentals

Credit scores in Australia are numeric evaluations of an individual's creditworthiness, ranging from 0 to 1200.   
 

Typically, a credit score of 700 or higher is regarded as being in good standing. For instance, your credit score will improve if you are a considerate customer with a consistent track record of paying your bills on time and managing your debts sensibly. 
 

Determinants of Credit Scores

To maintain a good credit score, you need to understand what affects it. Factors that influence your score include your payment history, how much credit you use compared to how much you have available, how long you've had credit, types of credit used, and recent credit inquiries. Paying your electricity bill on time helps boost your score, while late credit card payments can hurt it.  
 

Suppose you intend on staying in Australia for a long time and are willing to send money online from Australia to Nigeria. To make your transition to this new country easier, it is vital to maintain a good credit score.  
 

If you want to learn about the latest benefits of sending money to Nigeria, click here to read more.  

Strategies for Building Credit

With easy day-to-day examples, let's learn how we can practically adopt strategies to build a healthy credit score.   

 

Consistent and Timely Bill Payments

Regularly paying bills such as utilities, phone, and internet on time is crucial. Establishing automatic payments to prevent missing any due dates is a good idea. Doing so will automatically process your payments without you having to track them manually.  
 

Example: An expat can set up an automatic payment for their electricity and phone bills, ensuring they are paid on time, positively contributing to their credit score.   
 

Maintaining a Low Credit Utilisation Ratio

Aim to use less than 30% of your available credit. Demonstrating that you are not excessively dependent on credit can convey to lenders that you are a responsible borrower.
 

Example: If expats have a credit card with a $1,000 limit, they try to stay within $300 in spending to maintain a healthy credit utilization ratio.  
 

Regular Credit Report Monitoring

Obtain a free credit report annually from major credit bureaus like Equifax or Experian. Please make sure to verify if there are any errors or instances of fraudulence.

     

Example: A person annually reviews his/her credit report and notices an error in the debt listing, which he/she promptly disputes and corrects, maintaining the accuracy of his/her credit history.

Navigating Challenges of Money Transfers   

Being a Nigerian expat, working tirelessly to be able to send money to Nigeria from Australia while simultaneously maintaining a good credit score and history might seem overwhelming at first. Still, if you understand the challenges, you will be better equipped to face them.   
 

Starting Without a Credit History

Suppose you have recently arrived in Brisbane as an expatriate and need to build an Australian credit history.  
 

Perhaps you could consider obtaining a secure credit card by depositing $500 or looking for small personal loans that cater to newcomers gradually building their credit history.  
 

Recovering from Financial Missteps

If you miss a payment, make it as soon as possible. Continuously engaging in positive financial behaviors will slowly mitigate past negative impacts.   

The Bottom Line: Navigating Financial Success in Australia for Nigerian Expats  

For Nigerian expatriates in Australia, building a solid credit history is more than just a financial necessity; it's a pathway to broader opportunities and financial stability. By opening a local bank account, responsibly using credit cards, and understanding the structure of the Australian credit system, expats can lay a solid foundation for their financial journey. Regularly monitoring credit scores, maintaining a low credit utilization ratio, and ensuring timely bill payments are crucial. These actions not only aid in building a robust credit profile but also facilitate smoother financial transactions, such as when you need to send money online to Nigeria from Australia.
 

Navigating the initial challenges, like starting without a credit history or recovering from financial missteps, requires patience and consistent effort. However, Nigerian expats can achieve financial success in Australia with the right approach and tools, such as using reliable services like ACE Money Transfer for international remittances. 
 

This journey, while challenging, is enriching, paving the way for a secure financial future and the ability to support loved ones back home effectively. Remember, every positive step taken in Australia resonates back home in Nigeria, strengthening personal finances and familial bonds across continents.

FAQs

How can I start building my credit history as a Nigerian expatriate in Australia?   

Begin by opening a local bank account in Australia and applying for a low-limit credit card. Use this card for regular purchases and ensure you pay the total monthly balance to build a positive credit history.

What is a good credit score in Australia, and why is it important?

A good credit score in Australia typically ranges from 700 to 1200. A higher score indicates better creditworthiness, affecting your ability to obtain loans and credit cards and sometimes even impacting rental and employment opportunities.   

What factors influence my credit score in Australia?

Your credit score is influenced by several factors, including payment history, credit utilization ratio, length of credit history, types of credit used, and recent credit inquiries.  

How can I maintain a low credit utilization ratio?

Try to use less than 30% of your available credit limit. For example, if your credit card has a limit of $1,000, aim to spend at most $300 to maintain a healthy credit utilization ratio.   

Why is it important to pay bills on time in Australia?

Timely bill payments, such as utilities and phone bills, positively affect your credit score. Establishing automatic payments to prevent missing any due dates is a good idea. 

How often should I check my credit report, and why?

You should check your credit report annually to ensure no errors or fraudulent activities. You can obtain a free credit report from major credit bureaus like Equifax or Experian.   

What steps should I take if I discover an error on my credit report?

If you find an error in your credit report, dispute it immediately with the credit bureau. Correcting mistakes can help maintain the accuracy of your credit history.

Can using money transfer services like ACE Money Transfer affect my credit score?

Using services like ACE Money Transfer to send money from Australia to Nigeria does not directly affect your credit score. However, managing your finances responsibly, including international transfers, contributes to financial health.   


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