What’s The Difference Between Credit Cards And Personal Loans?

credit cards and personal loans

If you are looking for extra finance, whether it’s to make a big purchase, cover unexpected expenses, or build a credit history, there are two main options available for you – a credit card or personal loan. These two types of credit are very popular in Australia, but we’re here to break down the difference between credit cards and personal loans, so you can choose what’s best for you.

credit cards and personal loans

What is a credit card?

Before we jump into the difference between credit cards and personal loans, let’s start with the basics – what is a credit card? Literally speaking, a credit card is a piece of plastic or metal that is issued by a bank or financial services company. 

You can use a credit card to pay for goods and services, as well as any personal expenses that may arise. A credit card is a line of credit that you can use to pay for personal or business expenses on the promise that you repay the money back, often with interest. Your credit card is a revolving line of credit, which means it refreshes after a certain period of time – typically each month, and it will continue to do so up until you cancel the card.

Because a credit card is a line of credit, this means you don’t need to have the money physically in your bank account, as is the case with a debit card. This is where credit cards and personal loans are similar.

Different types of credit cards

In Australia, there are many different types of credit cards. Whilst the basics stay the same, the different types of credit cards all come with their unique purposes and benefits. Here’s a quick overview of the different options available to you.

Low-interest credit cards As the name suggests, a low-interest credit card is a credit card that offers a lower interest rate than normal. Many credit cards charge 20% or more on purchases, whereas low interest-rate credit cards generally have an interest rate that’s 14% or lower. These cards can also come with no interest periods, typically up to 55 days. However, low-interest credit cards can generally come with more restrictions, fewer rewards and a higher annual fee.
Balance transfer credit cards A balance transfer credit card is when you transfer your outstanding debt from one credit card to your balance transfer credit card. The balance transfer credit card usually has a low interest rate or sometimes even a 0% interest rate for a limited time. 

This allows you to repay your existing debt, and try and repay your new debt with the balance transfer credit card within the interest-free or low-interest period, which can save you money. However, if you can’t repay it within this period, then it might cost you more in the long run.

No annual fee credit card Most credit cards come with an annual fee that you have to pay each year across the life of your credit card. A no annual fee credit card is a type of credit card where you don’t have to pay this fee. 

There are two main types of no annual fee credit cards – the first is where you don’t have to pay an annual fee during the whole life of the credit card, the second is where you don’t have to pay an annual fee during an introductory period, which usually lasts for 1 or 2 years.

To offset the lack of an annual fee, these types of credit cards usually come with higher interest rates, which could actually cost you more in the end.

Rewards credit card Rewards credit cards give you some kind of reward, usually in the form of points, every time you make a purchase. There are many different types of rewards cards, and the points can be used for things like – retail rewards, supermarket rewards, cashback deals, frequent flyer points and petrol rewards.

Whilst these cards can give you bonuses, they don’t come for free. Generally speaking, rewards cards often come with higher annual fees and it can take a while for the points to build up (and they can expire). So, it’s important to read the terms and conditions carefully and weigh up the pros and cons.

Cashback credit card With cashback credit cards, you can get cashback when you make purchases. This can come in the form of a cash voucher or money credited back to your account. However, as with all types of credit cards – when there are perks, that generally means higher fees. 

In this instance, cashback credit cards often come with higher interest rates and an annual fee. Some cards can also cap how many cashback points you can earn.

Frequent flyer credit card A frequent flyer credit card is a common type of rewards credit card, and it’s great for those who love to travel. When you spend on your frequent flyer credit card, you’ll accrue points. When you build up enough points you can put them towards flights and either get cheaper flights or have the whole cost covered by points – depending on how many you have.

The downsides to this type of credit card are that the frequent flyer points can expire. These types of credit cards also generally come with standard credit cards fees such as – annual fee, program fee, cash advance fee and more.

Platinum or black credit card Platinum or black credit cards are high-end credit cards. You can get a number of benefits with these cards – exclusive dining and travel deals, as well as rewards points that don’t expire. If you’re over 18 and earn more than $50,000 each year, have a good credit score, then you can apply for one of these credit cards.

Some of the drawbacks of a platinum credit card include much higher annual fees and interest rates.

What is a personal loan?

Similar to a credit card, a personal loan is a line of credit that allows you to pay for personal expenses – whatever they may be. A personal loan allows you to borrow a specific amount of money under the agreement that you pay it back within a predetermined time period, referred to as the loan term, with interest. 

The interest rate you are charged will depend on a couple of factors, including your credit score. Want to see where you’re at? Check your credit score with Tippla here.

When taking on a personal loan, you can get a loan with a fixed or variable interest rate. You can also choose between a secured or unsecured personal loan. 

Different types of personal loans

There are a couple of different types of personal loans. Here is a breakdown below.

Secured and unsecured personal loans

The two main types of personal loans are secured and unsecured personal loans. A secured personal loan is when you take on a personal loan that is guaranteed by an asset such as a car. This asset is used as security against you defaulting on your loan. If you default on your repayments and can’t afford to repay the loan, then you are at risk of losing your asset.

Secured personal loans are generally used to purchase the security you’re using against the loan. Let’s break that down. Say you want a loan to buy a car, then the car you buy will be the security on the loan.

One of the benefits of a secured loan is that you can generally get lower interest rates. Interest rates are set to protect the lender against the risk of you defaulting on your loan. Because your asset serves as collateral, the lender can afford to offer you lower interest rates, because they have already hedged against the risk of you defaulting on your loan.

Unsecured personal loans, on the other hand, is a personal loan that you don’t have to provide any security for. Reasons for taking out an unsecured personal loan range from holiday expenses, home improvements, unexpected expenses, medical bills and more.

Because there’s no security against the loan, the interest rates are generally higher for unsecured loans. But on the plus sign, the application and approval process is usually quicker.

Fixed or variable interest rate personal loans

When it comes to interest rates on personal loans, the most common are either fixed-rate or variable-rate loans. Here’s what that means. A fixed-rate personal loan is when the interest stays the same for the whole loan term.

One of the perks of this is it allows you to easily budget for your repayments, as they stay the same each month. However, a downside of this is you could miss out on your interest rate being reduced if interest rates go down. On the flip side, if interest rates go up, then you’re protected with a fixed-rate personal loan.

Variable-rate personal loans are when the interest you’re charged each month isn’t the same, and it can fluctuate depending on the market. Some of the pros of this type of loan include – fewer repayments because you can make earlier repayments and pay off your loan sooner, more flexibility and potentially lower interest rates.

Although there are some positives to choosing this type of loan, there are still some things to consider. Namely, you might end up having to pay more in interest if the interest rate rises. This can cost you in the long run.

What’s the difference between credit cards and personal loans?

Whilst there are many similarities between a credit card and a personal loan, there are also some differences. So what is the difference between credit cards and personal loans? Here are the main points:

Borrowing amount

When you are approved for a personal loan, you will be given a set amount of money in a lump sum at the beginning of the loan term. You can’t spend more than the amount you have been given unless you take out an additional loan. With a credit card, the borrowing limit refreshes each month, so your borrowing limit is more flexible than a personal loan.

Length of term

Personal loans generally come with a fixed term, whether it be a couple of months or years, and they come with a termination date. Credit cards, on the other hand, are a revolving line of credit and refresh each month. For most credit cards, you can have them for as long as you want – whether that’s a month, years, or even decades. The length of time is determined by you as the customer.

Interest rates

Personal loans generally have lower interest rates than credit cards. According to the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), the average variable interest rate for a personal loan as of September 2020 was 14.41% and 12.42% for a fixed personal loan. Whereas the average credit card interest rate ranges from 16-18%, according to numerous comparison sites. However, you can avoid paying interest on your credit card if you pay off the card balance in full each month.


Although credit cards might have higher interest rates, they generally come with more rewards and perks. As we covered above, sometimes you might end up paying more for these perks, but if you use them wisely, you can make them work for you.

What’s the right decision for me?

Now you know the difference between credit cards and personal loans, you might now be thinking about what’s the best choice for you. At the end of the day, only you know your financial situation. However, there are a couple of things you can consider when choosing between a credit card or a personal loan. 

Firstly, if you have control over your spending and can follow a budget, then a credit card might meet your needs. Whereas if you’re looking to make a big one-off purchase or pay for an expense, a personal loan might be better for you.

If you’re unsure, you can speak to a free financial counsellor who can help you make the best decision for your personal situation.

What Affects My Credit Score? A Quick Guide

what affects my credit score

Whether you’re applying for credit or simply want to know more, we hear you, and we’re here to answer the age-old question of what affects my credit score? Tippla has provided a breakdown below.

what affects my credit score

What is a credit score?

Before answering “what affects my credit score”, let’s first discuss what is a credit score? Your credit score is a number that ranges from 0 – 1,200, based on the information contained within your credit report. Your score falls somewhere on a five-point scale ranging from below average up to excellent. Your credit score indicates to lenders your creditworthiness; the higher your score, the more reliable you appear to a potential lender. 

What is a good credit score?

Due to Experian and Equifax calculating your credit score differently, the categorisation of the “below average” to “excellent” scale differs between the bureaus. 

good credit score

Source: Equifax and Experian

What’s the difference between a credit score and a credit report?

Your credit score is a number falling somewhere between 0 – 1,200, depending on the reporting agency. In contrast, your credit report includes detailed information regarding your credit history. Your credit score is calculated based on the information contained in your credit report. If you’re still confused about “what affects my credit score”, it’s the information contained within your credit report.

What goes onto your credit report

Many things go onto your credit file, and all of this information will have some kind of impact on your credit score. It’s not just your credit accounts that appear on your report; phone bills, personal loans, and payments to utility companies will also feature on your report. 

Your personal finances, such as checking and savings accounts, have little to no effect on your credit score, as your credit report is only concerned with the money you owe or have previously owed. However, in some unique situations, your personal finances may be affecting your credit score.

What affects my credit score? 

In Australia, you have three different credit scores; here at Tippla, we provide you with your Equifax and Experian scores. It’s important to note that these scores may be slightly different, as they are scored on different scales and attribute different values to the contributing factors. 

Here’s what goes onto your Equifax credit report:

  • Type of credit provider
  • The type and size of credit requested in the application
  • Number of credit enquiries and shopping patterns
  • Directorship and proprietorship information
  • Age of your credit report
  • The pattern of credit enquiries over time
  • Personal information
  • Default information
  • Court writs and default judgements
  • Commercial address information

Here’s what goes onto your Experian credit report:

  • Type of credit provider
  • Type of product that was applied for
  • Repayment history
  • The credit limit on each of the credit products
  • Amount of credit enquiries
  • Any negative events

What harms my credit score

When understanding what affects my credit score, it’s equally important to look at what is also harming it. At Tippla, your reports come from the two leading credit bureaus in the world – Experian and Equifax, each of which considers different factors as detrimental when calculating your credit score.

What harms your Equifax credit score

  • Late repayments
  • Applying for a large amount of credit in a short period of time
  • Closing a credit account
  • Stopping credit-related activities for an extended period
  • Negative public records, such as bankruptcy

What harms your Experian credit score:

  • A large number of credit applications in a short period of time
  • Open accounts with debt collection agencies
  • Short term credit
  • Missed payments
  • Bankruptcy actions
  • Defaults
  • Court judgements

It is essential that you check all your information listed in your credit report to make sure there aren’t any mistakes that could diminish your score. Specifically, check to see that any of the debts and loans are yours and your personal details such as your name and date of birth are correct. If you find any errors or out-of-date information, contact that credit reporting agency and ask them to fix the mistakes.

What improves my credit score

Whether you’ve just checked your credit score and it wasn’t quite as high as you expected, or maybe you just want it to be even better, you can take steps towards improving it when you know what affects your credit score. Maintaining a good credit score means that you are more likely to be approved for different types of accounts and are more likely to get better interest rates when applying for a loan.

When you receive your scores, you should also be able to see the risk factors impacting your score the most; from this information, you can see where changes should be made and make a conscious effort towards doing so. It should be noted that any actions you take won’t see immediate change, and you’ll need to allow time for your creditors to report your positive behaviour before it is reflected in your credit score.

Tips to improve your credit score 

Changing your behaviour can help improve your score over time. You could start by paying your bills on time, as your previous payment history is an indication of your future performance. You could also ensure that you pay off debt and keep balances low on your credit cards and other revolving credit.

You could also improve your credit score by only applying for and opening new credit accounts as necessary. Taking on unneeded credit can damage your score by creating too many hard enquiries or simply tempting you to overspend and accumulate more debt. 

In addition, applying for too much new credit can harm your credit score because it results in numerous hard enquiries, which remain on your report for two years. 

How to fix my credit score

Now that we’ve answered the question of what affects my credit score? Let’s discuss how you can fix your score. 

Credit repair companies offer to quickly fix your credit score by correcting the visible issues on your credit report. Unfortunately, many of the issues can’t be resolved immediately and are things you could do yourself (for free). By reading through your credit report and understanding your score’s contributing factors, you can change these behaviours to prevent yourself from a further decline. 

An important thing to remember is the time taken to fix your credit score can vary, depending on how severe the negative entry is:

  • Enquiries remain for two years.
  • Late repayments can take seven years to leave your credit report. 
  • Public record items can remain on your report for seven years, but some cases of bankruptcy can stay for ten years.

Rebuilding and improving your credit score does take some time, and there aren’t really any shortcuts you can take. One of the best steps you can do is to check your credit scores with Tippla today; from there, you can review which factors negatively affect your score and then head over to the Tippla Credit School to learn more about improving your rating.

How To Check My Credit Report For Free

How To Check My Credit Report For Free

Your credit report is an important document that gives you a clear overview of your credit history and current standing. It’s no wonder a lot of people ask us “how to check my credit report for free”. Tippla has the breakdown for you below.

How To Check My Credit Report For Free

What is a credit report?

Your credit report is a document that outlines your credit history. It is a summary of how you have handled your credit accounts and managed your debt. If you have a personal loan, home loan, credit card, or your name is on a utility bill, then you will have a credit report.

In Australia, you have a credit report with three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and illion. Each month, your creditors and lenders will report your credit information – such as your repayment activity and history, to one of these three bureaus. The information reported by these financial institutions is what makes up your credit report.

The information on your credit report is what’s used to determine your credit score – a number ranging from 0 -1,200. It provides an indication of how reliable of a borrower you are. If you have positive information on your credit report – such as a reliable repayment history, then you will likely have a good credit score. 

However, if your credit report is filled with negative entries, such as defaults, bankruptcy, etc, then you will likely have an average to below-average credit score.

What goes onto your credit report?

There are many things that go onto your credit report, as outlined by Equifax, your credit report contains the following types of information:

Personal information Your credit report will contain certain information about your identity, such as your name, address and date of birth. It won’t include information such as your marital status, salary, etc.
Credit account information Listed on your credit report will be your credit account information. This includes the type of accounts you have, such as a credit card or loan, the date it was open and your credit limit.
Repayment history Your repayment history for your credit accounts will be listed on your credit report.
Credit applications Your credit report will list all of the enquiries that have been made on your report. There are two types of enquiries – hard or soft. Hard enquiries are when a lender or creditor looks at your report when you apply for a loan or type of credit. 

Hard enquiries affect your credit score. A soft enquiry does not affect your credit score, and ranges from you checking your own report or if a company checks your report for a pre-approved offer. If you have applied for credit, then it will show on your report.

Bankruptcies and defaults Your credit report contains negative entries, if applicable. This can include bankruptcies and defaults. Bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for up to 5 years. If you have defaulted on any of your credit repayments in the past 5 years, then it will appear on your credit report.

How long do items stay on your credit report?

Let’s get stuck into how long items stay on your credit report. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Credit accounts – all of your current accounts, and any that you have closed in the past 2 years;
  • Credit applications – any application you have made for some time of credit will remain on your report for 5 years;
  • Repayment history – your repayment history over the past 2 years will appear on your credit report;
  • Defaults – if you have defaulted on any repayments in the last 5 years then it will appear on your report;
  • Court judgements and bankruptcies – 5 years;
  • Serious credit infringements – these can stay on your credit report for up to 5 years.

Why does my credit report matter?

There are many reasons why your credit report matters, but we’ll take you through a few. One of the main reasons why it’s important to check your credit report and keep it, and your credit score healthy, is because it affects your ability to borrow.

If you have a lot of negative entries on your credit report, such as numerous defaults, then you will be perceived as a riskier borrower. Because of this, you might find it much harder to be approved for credit. 

Not only that, but the credit or loans you are approved for will likely come with higher interest rates, more fees and smaller borrowing limits. If you don’t take care of your credit report and credit score, then it can limit your finances, and as a result, your life. 

If you move into a new house or apartment and you need to sign up for your utilities, such as electricity and water, if you have a bad credit report and a low credit rating, then you might also be rejected by providers because you’re deemed too high of a risk. You could also struggle to get a phone contract.

Your credit report can also be valuable in helping you detect identity theft. If you check your credit report and see that something that doesn’t add up, such as a credit account you don’t recognise, then this could either be a mistake or an indication that someone has stolen your identity and is using it to open credit accounts. That’s why it’s important to check your credit report frequently.

How to check my credit report for free?

Now that you understand what your credit report is and its importance, let’s answer the question “how to check my credit report for free”. There are a few ways you can do this, and it depends on how long you’re willing to wait.

Request your report from the credit bureaus

If you would like to view your credit report for free, you can request a free copy from each of the bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and illion. However, it is important to highlight that you will have to wait approximately 10 days if you want to get a free copy. 

Generally, the bureaus will only allow you to see your credit report free once a year. You may have to pay for a copy of your report from the bureaus if you request a copy more than once a year, and if you want to receive it faster than 10 days.

Sign up to a platform like Tippla

This is where platforms like Tippla come in handy! With Tippla you can view your credit reports and credit scores from the two largest credit bureaus in the world – Equifax and Experian. On Tippla you can access your free personal Equifax credit report and your free personal Experian credit report.

Signing up to Tippla is completely free and you can view your credit report and score as often as you want – it won’t hurt your score. Your report is updated every 90 days, so you can see how you’re tracking throughout the year.

Does checking my credit report hurt my credit score?

No, it doesn’t! You can check your own credit report as often as you like, it won’t hurt your credit score or reflect badly on your report. This is because when you look at your own report, it is registered as a soft enquiry. Soft enquiries don’t affect your credit score.

The damage is done when you apply for a loan or type of credit, like a credit card. This is because when a lender or creditor views your report to see if you are a reliable borrower, this registers as a hard enquiry. Hard enquiries initially harm your credit score and will remain on your report for up to 5 years.

For more information on what affects your credit score and report, head to Tippla’s financial blog to find everything you need to know and more.