Despite being in Australia for more than six months now, there are still things that take us by surprise. Mostly, when we are caught off guard, it has little consequence other than to teach us something new – like a new piece of Aussie slang, or the curiosity of getting a day off for the Queen’s birthday when they don’t get one in Britain – but occasionally the surprises are slightly more problematic, as we found when applying for a credit card this month.
Although Australia is a country built on mass migration, it occasionally seems ill-equipped to offer much continuity to those who have chosen to move here.
This wasn’t much of a problem with driving licences – our UK entitlements were converted into Australian equivalents in a short 20-minute appointment. Even our car insurance provider recognised the no-claims history we had accumulated in Denmark and built it into the premium they charged us.
But in other areas, it really is as if we have just stepped off a spaceship rather than an aeroplane. So, despite years of prudent management of our finances, and having a bank full of cash from the sale of our house in Europe, it seems our credit rating is as non-existent as a snake’s bikini.
This only came to light a few weeks ago when, ahead of a trip back to Europe, I tried to book a hired car. Aah, but you can’t book a hired car without a credit card, just in case you run off with the car and the bank card you registered is for an empty account.
No problem, we’ll just get a credit card then. In any case, it’ll come in handy for booking air tickets so we have a little extra protection if an airline or travel agent should go out of business.
Of course, anyone with an awareness of how credit ratings work will know what’s coming.
“How long have you been at this address? “ About six months.
“I see, and what was your previous address in Australia?” There wasn’t one. We’re new here.
“I see.” Pause. “How long have you been with your current employer?” About three months.
“And your previous job?” Well, that was in Denmark, but… “I see.”
“Do you own your own property?” No, we’re renting. “Mmmm.”
You can see where this went. But here’s the thing – the application was for a Visa card… or was it a Mastercard… one of those anyway. And we had both in Denmark for many years, only cancelling them when we left the country. Surely in this era of global brands and the easy transfer of data, it shouldn’t be impossible for a credit record to move along with a person?
As it is, we are starting from scratch, as if we were school leavers once more, with it all to prove. It’s a hindrance but not a disaster. But if my dentist can accept and make sense of the records from my Danish dentist, surely MasterCard can look at their own files and vouch for my years of good account keeping. It’s not a lot to ask, is it?