Maintaining a good credit score requires consistent monitoring, budgeting, timely bill payment and smart decision making every single day...And, what for? Does it really matter?
Listen, we know this subject is a little dry, but yes, it is important. Which is why we partnered with Discover card and a bunch of cute cats to tell you about the times in life when people are creeping on your credit score and you don't even know it. Meow!
When using a debit card to rent a car, many companies such as Hertz, Dollar and Avis will perform a credit check to determine whether or not they will rent to you. To avoid this, use a credit card. If that's not an option, it's important that your credit score is up to par.
Even though you're not technically taking out a loan, many landlords these days look at your credit score, your gross income and employment history when deciding whether or not to rent to you. Even if your landlord doesn't pull credit data before making a decision on your rental application, keep in mind that for utilities such as electric and cable, you'll most likely be subject to credit approval before being granted a contract.
Many cell phone plan providers such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T check your credit score before allowing you to enroll in a new post-paid plan or receive discounted devices. Even if you are breaking from a family plan and signing up for a new one under your name with the same provider, you may be subject to a credit score review. Poor credit may exclude you from hundreds of dollars in device and plan discounts or worse, prevent you from getting a cell phone plan at all.
To get ahead in certain careers or practice certain professions, you'll need a license. And many licensing boards, especially in the financial industry, consider your credit before issuing you one. For example, the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry
, which issues licenses for mortgage loan originators, considers the way you've borrowed and repaid your personal debts before approving your license.
When buying or leasing a car, auto dealers will check your credit to determine if you qualify and how much your monthly payment will be. Consumers with lower credit often end up paying hundreds dollars more each month. According to the The Washington Post
, someone with a FICO score of 850 taking out a 5-year auto loan at $20,000 with a 7% down payment will pay $372 per month and $21,998 overall. The same loan would cost someone with a FICO score of 590 -- $509 per month and $28,694 total.
Insurance companies can factor in your credit score when coming up with a monthly rate. One study
found that 92 percent of auto insurers check credit. For car insurance, "drivers with poor credit pay twice as much -- 91 percent more on average -- than those with excellent credit scores" according to CBS News
. Similarly, private mortgage insurance can cost thousands of dollars more for someone with poor credit as compared to someone with good credit, according to Bankrate.com
If you decide to start a small business and have poor or even mediocre credit, you might have trouble getting a loan. In general, banks aren't jumping at the opportunity to finance what they consider risky ventures and can be quite selective. In fact, 59 percent of small business owners look to borrow from banks, but only 27 percent of them find financing, according to Forbes
. Your credit score can make or break a bank's decision to loan you money.
Because seniors are less likely to seek loans, "there's an assumption that their credit score no longer matters," according to an article from MoneyManagement.org
. However, many assisted care facilities and 65+ communities check your credit score before allowing you to move in.
Discover card makes staying on top of your credit score easier by providing your free FICO Credit Score every month. They're looking out for you so that you always know where you stand, at every stage of your life.