7 ways your credit score can impact your life

Photo: Patrick Riviere/ Getty Images.

Your credit score is a representation of your credit history through a three-digit number between 301 and 850.

It is used as an indication of trustworthiness by lenders, who use the number as a way to help predict how you’ll treat their credit line based on your financial history.

Generally, the higher the number, the more trustworthy you appear to lenders. The lower your score, the more difficulty you will face. But it’s not just lenders who may take your credit score into account — surveys and studies have found your credit score can affect everything from whether you’re able to rent an apartment to who may be willing to date you.

Here are seven ways your credit score can impact your life.

1. It raises the price of your bills

According to Credit.com, a low credit score makes you seem untrustworthy with money — and not just to banks. Companies you do business with or purchase goods or subscriptions from — cellphone providers, insurers, and even utility companies — may worry about your score and charge you fees or higher rates just in case.

2. It could keep you from getting the home you want

Landlords want tenants who have good credit scores, so if yours isn’t that great, you could miss out on the home you want.

LearnVest explains that a 2014 report from Rent.com found that “after rent-to-income ratio, your credit profile/ score is the second-most important factor a property manager considers when reviewing an application.”

A landlord who doesn’t see evidence that you’re trustworthy and have kept up with your payments in the past may not feel comfortable taking you on as a tenant.

3. It affects the interest rate on your mortgage

“The higher your score, the better the interest rate on your mortgage will be,” personal-finance expert Ramit Sethi writes in “I Will Teach You To Be Rich.”

In fact, a low credit score is one of the signs you probably can’t afford to buy a home.

So if your score is not great, consider delaying this big purchase until you’ve built up your credit.

4. It could influence your relationships

A recent Bankrate survey found that nearly four in 10 adults say knowing someone’s credit score will affect their willingness to date that person.

The Bankrate survey isn’t the only one to examine how a credit score could affect your relationships: A 2015 report from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve found that your credit score may affect who you end up with romantically and how long you’ll stay together — and the better the score, the stronger your relationship may be.

Don’t put too much emphasis on a credit score, however. “Knowing someone’s score is important, but it’s much more important to know someone’s attitudes toward money,” Pam Friedman, certified financial planner and author of “I Now Pronounce You Financially Fit: How to Protect Your Money in Marriage and Divorce,” told Bankrate.

5. It determines whether your loan gets approved

Taking out a private or auto loan usually requires you to have a good score. According to Credit Karma, your credit score is the biggest factor in determining your auto-loan rate.

It’s not impossible to get a loan with a low credit score, but you’ll most likely face higher interest rates.

6. It changes the way you pay for things

Just as a good credit score can get you preapproved cards that offer rewards points or cash-back offers, a low credit score can hinder your ability to use credit cards.

When you have a low credit score that denotes a spotty credit history, lenders can decrease your limit if you do not make your payments on time. They could also decline your request for a credit line increase or lower APR on an existing card, Credit.com reports.

Plus, lenders “could close your account, particularly if it’s got a zero balance,” Barry Paperno, a credit expert who blogs at Speaking of Credit, told Credit.com. Aside from limiting your payment options, this move could rapidly increase your credit utilization rate and damage your score further.

7. It could keep you from getting hired

Employers in most states have the right to run credit reports (the document that’s reflected in your credit score) on their prospective employees. The version of the report presented to employers is not exactly the same that a lender would see, but it can still bring major red flags to light.

According to LearnVest, “47% of employers run credit checks on job candidates primarily to reduce the potential for theft and embezzlement, reduce liability for negligent hiring, and assess trustworthiness.”

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