You applied for a credit card or a personal loan but were declined. You applied again but with another bank, then with another bank, and another. You got four rejection emails. It’s upsetting!
Pause. Maybe it’s time that you check your credit score and all the credit history — or simply request a detailed credit report — and discover yourself what makes these banks find you not creditworthy.
In a nutshell, a credit score is a three-digit number (and mine was 773 the last time I checked with TransUnion Philippines) or a creditworthiness scorecard that financial institutions like banks, credit card companies, and other lending institutions use as basis for the approval or disapproval of a loan or credit card application.
While this may still be a premature concept among many Filipinos, there are credit bureaus in the country that have been operating and are authorized to access consumer data.
Based on Credit Information Corporation (CIC), a government agency, these bureaus include CIBI Information Inc, CRIF Philippines, and the TransUnion Philippines, among others.
It was CIBI Information that I first learned about. That was in mid-2020, if not mistaken. I signed up with the bureau via the mobile app, but the scheduling system for identity verification was a bit of a mess (or may just be incompatible with my smartphone) that I did not push through with the request at all.
Few months ago as I started applying again for credit cards, I got interested again but this time with TransUnion Philippines. I should say that their request process is simpler and all the details needed — documentary requirements, fees, and everything — are just as well communicated on their website.
So I tried it, and it was a success. Finally, I got my credit report. I got to check my credit score.
You might have checked already their website, but just dropping by here to read some experiences and testimonials. So, here’s but another helpful article on how to get and check yours from TransUnion Philippines.
But before that, let’s breakdown some credit-related terms and concepts first for you to better understand the purpose of this.
Credit Score, Credit History, and Credit Report Explained
Credit score, just like school grades or scores in sports events, is a three-digit numerical expression between 300 to 850 that indicates your creditworthiness or the extent to which you are suitable to receive financial credit based on the records under your name.
With that, it serves as a basis for financial institutions and lenders such as banks, credit card issuers, insurance companies, and even landlords to make informed decisions about your loan and credit card applications.
It is based on the principle – the higher the credit score, the better.
Your credit score as indicated in your credit report may come with a corresponding risk level, e.g., high risk, medium risk, etc., and may also be interpreted based on these sample ranges:
- Bad and Poor Credit Score (300-629)
- Fair Credit Score (630-689)
- Good Credit Score (690-719)
- Excellent Credit Score (720-850)
Just an important take, you don’t necessarily have to aim for a perfect score of 850 as your score tends to fluctuate frequently. After all, there is not much difference in terms of privileges within your bracket.
Your robust credit score that speaks about your responsible management of finances comes with lots of benefits, and some of these are:
- higher chances for credit card and loan approvals
- higher credit card limits and loanable amounts
- premium cards and better reward offers
- lower loan interest rates
- lower insurance rates
- better deals on property rentals and leases
- more purchasing and negotiating power
- higher chances of getting hired
- access to wider selection of financial products and services, and some
- bragging rights
Also, your credit score is computed by a credit bureau based on numerical weights or percentages assigned to various credit factors. TransUnion, for example, normally calculates credit scores based on the following factors:
- Credit Payment History (40%), primarily based on consistent on-time payments for the accounts
- Length of Credit and Credit Mix (21%) or the average age and types of accounts
- Credit Utilization (20%), i.e., the percentage of credit used against the total credit limit
- Balances (11%), both current and delinquent
- New Credit (5%) as based on hard inquiries on the credit report, and
- Available Credit (3%) or whether there is more credit at disposal than needed
On the other hand, these are the factors that are commonly excluded and do not affect credit scores:
- income and income changes
- personal information
- debit card charges
- bank overdrafts
- insurance payments
- utility bills payments
- personal net worth and assets
- affiliations and non-credit related backgrounds
- non-credit bank accounts and savings
- spouse’s and family member’s credit history
- tax remittances
- police and NBI records
- checking own credit reports
Checking and monitoring your credit score is just as important as being responsible with your personal finances.
It helps you better understand your current credit position as you see yourself what lenders and credit card issuers see in your file. At the same time, you detect and can easily dispute inaccurate and incomplete information.
Credit history, on the other hand, is a record of all credit activities – credit tradeline or the number of accounts you’ve had (both open and closed), revolving or installment types of credits, the amount owed, and the payment history which particularly shows whether you paid balances on time, your delinquencies, and accounts forwarded to collection agencies.
As it is, the long history of responsible credit use and on-time payments primarily affects the credit score, keeping it high and stable.
Credit report, just like a school report card, is a detailed summary of your credit data which include your credit score and credit history together with your personal, public, and employment information and records.
In the Philippines, it is the Credit Information Corporation (CIC), a government-owned and controlled corporation, that is mandated by virtue of the Republic Act 9510 to gather and collect credit reports.
CIC has the powers and functions to receive and consolidate basic credit data, to act as a central registry or central repository of credit information, and to provide access to reliable, standardized information on credit history and financial condition of borrowers.
To further understand how credit bureaus, e.g., TransUnion Philippines, come to action, here’s how the system goes:
- Financial institutions and lenders such as banks and credit card issuers are mandated by the law to submit all credit data of their borrowers to the Credit Information Corporation (CIC).
- CIC receives these data and consolidates into comprehensive credit reports.
- CIC further shares these credit reports with the credit bureaus and other legally authorized financial institutions as needed.
- These financial institutions then make hard inquiries on the clients’ credit reports upon loan and credit card applications. Individuals may also have a copy of their own credit report upon request from the credit bureaus.
As mentioned earlier already, there are currently three (3) accredited credit bureaus or special accessing entities (SAEs) authorized to access CIC’s credit data and hence, provide credit information services such as issuing credit reports and generating credit scores:
- CIBI Information, Inc.
- CRIF Philippines
- TransUnion Philippines
How to Get Your Credit Report from TransUnion Philippines
While most guides available online are simply based on research or rehashing of available information, the steps that follow are based on my first-hand experience getting my credit report from TransUnion Philippines.
Feel free to drop your questions and other insights in the comments below.
 Visit TransUnion Philippines website and click on PERSONAL tab. On the landing page, click Learn More under Get Your TransUnion Credit Report.
 Read the detailed instructions carefully and download the application form. The application form is readily available for download right at the bottom of the page itself. Simply click on it and check the file after download to your personal computer.
 Accomplish the application form and prepare all other requirements. Basic personal and work-related information will be needed in the application form. You also need to scan two valid government-issued identification cards and selfies with these.
 Zip all the files and password-protect. The zipped folder includes the accomplished application form in PDF, the scanned IDs, and the selfies. You may just google or watch YouTube videos on how to zip files and password-protect.
 Send the zipped folder and password to email@example.com. Expect email reply within 7-10 business days, although sometimes earlier. As I experienced, I was even requested to resend selfies because the details on the IDs were not clear enough with the first ones.
 Pay the credit report processing fee. As indicated on the TransUnion website, the credit report request fee is PHP200.00 (as of this writing), the same which I settled when I had mine. As soon as all requirements are fulfilled, you will receive another email about the fee and the payment channels (no worries about this as multiple channels are provided).
 Attend the brief Zoom call for identity verification. After you settle the fee, you will also be emailed virtual meeting details via zoom. Not really a big deal, it usually takes just 15-20 minutes. The representative of the credit bureau will simply verify your details, mostly those you already declared in the application form.
 Receive your credit report and password. Your password-protected credit report will be sent via email, while the password via SMS. It was just a day after the Zoom call that I received my credit report, and so I was able to check my credit score.
As I checked, my credit report includes, but not limited, to these:
- Personal Information (Basic, ID, Contact and Address Information)
- Employment History and Education
- Generic Risk Score (Actual Score and Risk Grade)
- Summary (Open and Closed Accounts)
- Individual Credit Exposure
- Credit Payment Details and Histories
- Previous Enquiry Information
- and others
It took me more or less two weeks before I was able to receive my credit report, but it was all worth it. Three major credit accounts were on the report — the short term loans with BillEase a few years back, the existing two-year personal loan with CIMB, and the RCBC secured credit card.
Apart from these, there were also some hard inquiries from credit card companies because of my regular credit card applications months prior which were all declined. Per TransUnion generic risk score, I got a credit score of 773 and a MEDIUM RISK grade. So far, it was good, although I still have more to figure out why I can’t get myself credit card application approvals.
6 Quick Tips to Improve Your Credit Score
Whether you are just starting out or already trying to rebuild your credit after some financial disasters, you can always consider these quick tips as you aim for a more robust score.
 Start getting small loans. Small personal loans, even with digital lending apps, are even reported to Credit Information Corporation (CIC). Take advantage of the chance to bring positive items to your credit history and possibly, push the negative ones a little down.
 Get a secured credit card (SCC). It’s a good alternative to a regular unsecured credit card in terms of payment convenience and rewards and still gives you an equal advantage to build or rebuild your credit score. Read more about the Best Secured Credit Cards in the Philippines here.
 Always pay on time and in full. You can pay the minimum balance on time without hurting your credit score, but paying the full statement balance, e.g., on your credit card, gives you a better score and a positive impression. Read also 19 Tips for First-Time Credit Card Users (in the Philippines).
 Don’t ever max out your credit card. Credit utilization ratio is a big factor as we discussed earlier. Most articles say that you keep your utilization at 30 percent or less of your credit limit. A maxed out credit card is a sign of inefficient financial management.
 Avoid multiple loans or credit card applications in a short span of time. You are making an impression of a borrower in a desperate need. Hard inquiries, which also negatively affect your credit score, are caused by banks and credit card issuers having accessed on your credit report.
 Don’t default on your credit card and loan payments. It creates a drastic decline in your credit score if you stop making payments on your credit cards and loans, and especially if your accounts are forwarded to the debt collection agencies. Take note that these negative items will stay in your credit report for a minimum of seven years.
Why Credit Scores Are Like Grades. This short article uses school grades for an analogy to explain clearly what a credit score is and the basic principles that come with it.
How to Read a Credit Report. This article guides first-timers in understanding the sections and parts of a typical credit report — personal information, inquiries, accounts, and public records, among others.
How Long Do Negative Items Stay on Your Credit Report? This short article clarifies how long or how many years negative items such as late payments, charged-off accounts, bankruptcies, inquiries, and others stay in credit reports before getting removed.
Credit Card Stigma — and Why Filipinos Should Break It. This article sheds light on the negative stigma surrounding credit cards and further underscores the benefits that many may have been missing out.
Best Secured Credit Cards (SCC) in the Philippines. This article provides an in-depth discussion on secured credit cards, the best ones available, and how these can be used to build and rebuild credit score.