We often overlook the social impact of credit, but it exists nonetheless. For example, a Bankrate poll found that 42 percent of people said knowing someone’s credit score would affect whether or not they’d go on a date with that person. One respondent said:
Bad credit could point to deeper issues of irresponsibility. They may be unstable in other areas of their life.
Obviously, there’s a lot of judgment here.
Another 2015 study from researchers at the Federal Reserve Board, the Brookings Institution and UCLA found a link between bad credit and divorce. Moneyish reported:
The higher your credit score, the less likely you’ll split from your partner, and vice versa. Indeed, for every 105-point uptick in a person’s credit score, there is a 32% drop in the likelihood of them divorcing. “Couples with the lowest initial average scores are two or three times more likely to separate than the couples with the highest average scores, and the likelihood of separation largely diminishes as scores increase,” the study found.
Obviously, there’s a huge correlation/causation argument to be made here. A low credit score itself probably doesn’t cause a relationship to go south, but according to the study, it’s a good predictor of a bumpy road ahead. This is likely because bad credit and financial stress usually go hand in hand.
Bad credit can make it hard to get a job, rent an apartment, or buy a car. Your bills can be higher with bad credit. Money is already a top predictor of divorce, so these drawbacks certainly don’t help the situation.
At any rate, you want to have an idea of what your score looks like in the first place, and the good news is, it’s easier than ever to grab a free copy of your credit score. If you’re a Mint.com user, for example, you can sign up to get a free credit score update every few months and you’ll see it right there in your Overview. Discover card holders get a score update on their monthly statements, too.
Otherwise, WalletHub and CreditKarma are both reputable services that can help you keep track of your score.
It’s not just about your score, though. You also want to get a (free!) copy of your credit every report every year (and you can do that at annualcreditreport.com). Review it for any negative items and areas for improvement. We’ve told you how to decipher it here.
If your credit isn’t stellar, the best way to improve it is to pay your debt bills in full and on time every month. Beyond the obvious, though, we’ve written some guides that can help: