Beyond Borrowing Power: How Credit Scores Affect Your Life

You probably already know that your credit scores affect your ability to get loans and other types of credit. But did you know they can also affect other areas of your life? Companies other than lenders may consider your credit scores when making decisions about doing business with you.

Your credit scores may also influence:

  • Insurance premiums. When deciding whether to approve you for a policy and how much to charge you for it, insurers consider a number of factors, including your age, where you live, your background and a credit score.
  • Your (or your child’s) education. If you need to apply for a student loan to fund an education for yourself or a child, the lender will want to review your credit report and score. A low score could make it difficult to get a favorable rate and terms, or may even prompt the lender to require a co-signer.
  • Utility deposits. When you sign up for a new utility service, such as cable, electricity or water, it’s not uncommon for the utility company to check your credit report and score. A low score may prompt the company to ask for extra security, upfront fees or even a co-signer.
  • Mobile carriers. When you sign up for a mobile contract, the company will likely check your credit score – with your permission, of course – to determine how likely you are to pay your bill on time. While your credit scores might not affect the mobile rates you pay, the mobile phone carrier could ask you for a deposit or even decline to extend you service if they’re troubled by your credit score.
  • Apartment rentals. Landlords routinely ask to check your credit report and score when you apply for a lease. Your credit history may lead them to draw conclusions about how likely you are to pay your rent on time. If your score is low, a landlord could refuse to rent to you or ask for additional security.
  • Employment opportunities. When you apply for a job, an employer may ask to review your credit report and score, especially if you’ll be working in a financial capacity. You have the right to decline, but doing so may affect your candidacy for a job you want. Employers may also make assumptions about your reliability based on information contained in your credit report.

Maintaining good credit can be beneficial far beyond borrowing power. Cultivate credit habits that can positively influence your credit scores, such as paying down debt, paying all bills on time and avoiding maxing out your credit cards.