A few years ago, credit scores were taboo. The idea that a credit score could be used for more than just determining qualification for a loan was at best unfair and at worst discriminatory. Employers in some circumstances can use credit scores or credit reports to determine whether to offer jobs to applicants. If you sign a credit authorization form, which some employers might imply or outright say is necessary to be considered, the company can use your credit against you.
Auto insurance companies can use credit scores to set your rate because they’ve found that there is a correlation between higher scores and safe driving. If you intend on renting an apartment, the landlord can choose to perform a background check, and credit history could be included. If there are red flags on your report, such as a history of being unable to pay rent, you could be denied the lease.
It’s clear that good credit is becoming more important in life. Credit scores and the quality of your credit histories determines not only the price of major borrowing needs, but whether you can live where you want, whether you can get the job you want, and the cost of required insurance. It’s no longer a mystery that companies evaluate the quality of an individual using their credit, and as a result, any one person might benefit from adding the credit score to their own list of filters for dealing with other people.
It’s getting harder to live a life without a credit score. It’s a noble goal to exist in modern society without taking on any debt and to try to stay off the credit grid. The need for credit permeates life now more than ever. It’s still possible to buy a house with cash, rent an apartment without a credit history, get a job with an employer who doesn’t perform a background check that includes a credit inquiry, or buy insurance without a credit score. But if you haven’t built up a credit history, it’s just another obstacle standing in your way, and can end up costing you more money.
People with poor credit histories, low scores, or no scores might be starting to find it more difficult to find long-lasting love. According to the New York Times, more people are adding credit scores to their social filters, as mentioned above. Credit quality has, in some cases, become the subject of first dates. It’s no surprise that a couple benefits in the long run when both members of the pair have solid approaches towards their finances. Money problems often come to light late in relationships, sometimes when couples are already married and beginning to combine their finances for the first time.
Asking about a credit score on the first date and using the credit score as a proxy for the quality of an attitude towards money and responsibility is one way to prevent reaching the point where the relationship has progressed too far. On one hand, discovering late that your partner does not share your responsible approach to money creates a challenge, that if overcome, could strengthen the relationship.
Then again, disagreements like these often represent a larger issue or disagreement about responsibility that might not easily be overcome. Using the credit score as part of early criteria would help prevent wasted time and effort on a relationship that might never work out. What’s my credit score.
With a responsible approach to handling personal finances, one should be able to expect that a partner has the same. There is room for different philosophies. Someone who identifies himself as a “saver” could have a positive, healthy, long-term relationship with someone who identifies herself as a “spender.” In some situations, one person’s strengths may complement another person weaknesses. If the underlying goals and philosophies are too disparate, it might cause tension and eventually dissolution.
The credit score is just one clue. A good credit score says someone has not made any grave financial missteps, while a bad credit score, by itself, is a little more ambiguous. It could mean someone has a record of bad financial habits. It could mean they’ve missed paying rent. It could mean they have more credit card debt than they can handle. But it could also mean they trusted a family member when co-signing a loan. There’s even the possibility that a family member used and destroyed their credit without their knowledge, and they were unable to work with the credit reporting agencies to change the report.
Your FICO score, or any one of the various numbers published and sold by credit reporting agencies, doesn’t contain any detail. That’s why background checks often contain more than just a credit score. Along those same lines, if you plan on discussing your financial situation with a potential future spouse, you might want to go deeper than the superficial number. It doesn’t make sense to waste time with someone with whom you won’t be compatible, but a credit score alone isn’t going to provide enough information to judge your financial compatibility.
While it might be more common to ask about your date’s financial situation at your first dinner, and I certainly understand why some would not want to waste any time beyond a first date in the search for a match in love, I tend to think it’s best to leave the discussion about finances until a later date, unless the situation calls for it specifically. Personally, I wouldn’t take a first date to a real estate investing sales pitch, but if there’s any time it’s appropriate to ask someone you just met about their credit score, that might be it.
Your credit score is shorthand, and people may judge you incorrectly based on your score, whether it’s low or it’s high. There’s often a story to tell, and while it might be an entertaining story for a first date, you might want to find other areas in which you’re incompatible before releasing a love interest from your life due to his score of 650 compared to your 790.
If you’re the one who feels the need to improve your credit score to make yourself more appealing to the pool of available partners with increasing demands, here are some tips for increasing and improving your credit score. You can check your credit score here.
Updated January 7, 2013 and originally published December 26, 2012. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.