Credit Score

The 6 Biggest Ways Bad Credit Can Mess Up Your Life

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Bad credit is something you don’t want associated with your finances. Unfortunately, you may have less than stellar credit at some point in your life. Credit scores represent a person’s credit worthiness, designed to show a lending institution who is a good investment, and who is… not so much. Banks believe that credit scores — i.e. past financial behavior — are a good indication of an individual’s future financial behavior. Whether or not you agree with that statement, the negative effects of having bad credit are undeniable.

Here’s a list of things that can get pricey or are unattainable if you have bad credit.

1. Car Insurance. Insurance carriers in 47 states check your credit score when arriving at a rate. They’re with the banks in assuming that your credit score will indicate how risky of an investment you are. This means that you may have higher than average rates for years or that you may not be approved for insurance coverage at all by a certain carrier, depending on how low your credit score is.

2. Mortgage Loans. If you’re trying to buy a home you will most likely apply for a loan. You can be certain that financial institutions look at your credit score during the process. Bad credit means possibly being denied a loan or can result in being charged higher interest rates. This is because the amount of interest you pay is based on your level of risk and the current market rate. The worse your credit is, the higher your level of risk is and the higher your interest rates will be. This difference can amount to tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a mortgage’s lifetime.

3. Credit Cards. If you are approved for a credit card, you can bet on having higher than average interest rates. Credit card interest rates range anywhere from 7 percent to 36 percent. With a good credit score you can expect to land somewhere between 10 percent and 19 percent. With a bad credit score, you can expect to be somewhere around 22 percent and up.

4. Car Loans. You’ll likely need a loan when purchasing a vehicle as well. And banks will check your credit score before approving your financing; interest rates on your loan will sway with the results; results could vary by up to 2 percentage points.

5. Cell Phone Plans. Did you know that some cell phone carriers, like car insurance carriers, check your credit score? They do — another reason why it’s important to pay your bills.

6. Job Hunting. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act it is legal for a future employer to review your credit report with your written approval (they don’t check your score, however). Hiring managers can use this information when making their decision. Some states do have laws that limit the use of credit information in the hiring process.

To make sure that your credit does not interfere with your employment, interest rates, your ability to buy a cell phone or a vehicle, or your car insurance rates — make sure to take control of the situation by obtaining your credit report for free once each year from all three bureaus, and checking your credit score, which you can do once each month using Credit.com’s Free Credit Report Card.

Image: thefixer, via Flickr

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