Consumers who miss just one credit card or loan payment risk a black mark on their rating under changes to come into effect next month.
Financial experts say although lenders are not expected to use a single missed or partial payment to deny credit, there will be implications for consumers.
The new system - which involves reform of the Privacy Act and will take Australia from what is known as a negative reporting model to the positive reporting model used by most of the Western world - will allow credit providers and credit reporting agencies to share more information about missed payments.
Financial Counsellors Association of WA president Joanna Carrington said consumers should ensure automatic payments and direct debits did not inadvertently lead to a default.
"If somebody is late making their normal repayments, they could have a black mark against them," Ms Carrington said.
"They may be late because they're disputing it, so it's very important if you have a dispute on your credit card to speak to the issuer as soon as possible.
"And the implication is if you have a lot of defaults you may find it harder to get credit."
Finance broker Craig Smith said lenders would likely be looking for patterns of non-payment, rather than one-offs.
P&N Bank chief executive Andrew Hadley said under the previous system only a default or a serious credit infringement could appear on a person's credit report. "These changes will mean that more of your information may be available to your credit providers," he said.
Mr Hadley said one option for people struggling with credit cards debt was to consolidate with a personal loan.
Stacey, who asked to be known only by her first name, is one young West Australian who racked up credit card debt and ultimately took out a consolidation loan with P&N. "My credit rating is very important to me because I would like to buy a house within the next two years," she said.