If you think your credit score only affects your ability to be approved for credit cards, think again. Read on to learn about the many ways in which your credit score can impact your life.
Depending on how good — or not-so-good — your score is, you may struggle to rent apartments, buy cars, and even land jobs. The quality of your credit score also affects how much you will pay for things like cars and houses. The higher your score is, the lower your interest rate is likely to be — and that can have dramatic effects on affordability.
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Despite all the talk out there about the importance of credit scores, many folks don’t bother to even check theirs prior to apartment hunting, buying a house, buying a car, or applying for jobs. This is a big mistake because like anything else, credit profiles can contain errors. When corrected, scores can improve dramatically. By checking your credit score beforehand, you may also be able to take other steps to improve it before taking the plunge.
It Affects Where You Live and How Much You Pay
It doesn’t matter if you are going to rent or buy; when it comes to finding a place to live, you can be sure that your credit score will come into play. Landlords check potential tenants’ credit scores as a matter of course, and they sometimes dig even deeper to assess the various factors that produced your score. After rent-to-income ratio, your credit score has the biggest impact on your odds of being approved for that apartment. Even if your score isn’t great, all is not lost. As long as your report isn’t riddled with missing and late payments or, of course, evictions, you may still be approved. However, if another candidate is vying for the place and has a better score, they will likely get it.
Many people view buying a house as a smarter financial move than renting, and it certainly can be. For that to be true, however, you need to be financially responsible. Lenders know this, and they will scour your credit report to assess how risky it will be to give you that mortgage. When you score is good — say, 700 or higher — you will be eligible to borrow more money at a lower rate. When it is low, or when your report shows charge-offs, repossessions, and other black marks, you may not qualify at all. Even if you do, you will pay a lot more.
Consider this: A 30-year, $200,000 mortgage with a four percent interest rate equals a monthly payment of around $950 without additional fees. A one percent to five percent increase results in a monthly payment of around $1,075.
It Affects What You Drive and Your Car Payment
Just because you can afford to buy a new car based on your monthly income doesn’t mean that you will be able to. Again, lenders base their decision largely on the quality of your credit report — and your score can make or break your ability to get the type of car that you really want. Even if you have a low score, you can probably find lenders who will work with you, but you will pay way more to borrow the money and won’t qualify to borrow as much. As a result, your options will be far more limited — and you will still pay a lot more than the person with a prime credit score.
Bumping up your credit score even a little can make a huge difference in terms of the affordability of your monthly payment. With a score that is in the low 700s, you will qualify for interest rates as low as five percent. If your score is closer to the mid-500s, your rate could be as high as 15 percent. Buying a $20,000 car on a five-year loan with a good credit score results in a monthly payment of around $375 while doing so with a low score results in a payment that is closer to $485.
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It Can Affect Your Job Search
Even your ability to land a better-paying job — to perhaps improve your overall financial situation — can be affected by a low credit score. In most states, employers have the right to run credit checks on potential hires. Although they don’t receive the same exact report that lenders do, they still have access to your score and many aspects of your credit profile. Nearly half of all employers reportedly rely on credit reports for hiring purposes, so checking your score may be nearly as important as revising that resume.
How is it possibly fair that employers can base hiring decisions on credit risk? Many employers check applicants’ credit scores to weed out people who may be more susceptible to crimes like embezzlement and theft. Others do so to simply assess the overall trustworthiness of applicants. Still others do it to reduce their liability. At any rate, if you are up against candidates who have much stronger scores than yours, you may lose out. Fair or not, this is the way of the world. Before launching that job search, then, get your credit report and take steps to improve your score if it’s on the lower end of the scale.
Why Your Credit Score is Important
As you can see, your credit score can affect your life in many surprising ways. It can keep you from qualifying for that great apartment, or it can snatch away your ability to secure the home loan that you need to buy the house of your dreams. Even if your score is high enough for you to qualify for a mortgage, you will pay far more to borrow the money and won’t be able to borrow as much. Without strong credit, buying a car — even a used one — can be an expensive uphill battle, and many potential employers will pass you over in favor of people with stronger credit profiles.
If you are concerned about the way in which your credit may affect your life, do your own research to learn more and to find ways to improve your score.