While there is a lot of talk about the continual importance of credit scores, a recent TransUnion survey discovered that about half of the baby boomer population believes their credit scores matter less after they reach 70 years old.
The survey also found that only 32% of people from this generation (ages 51-70) recognize that a strong credit score may be necessary if they have to move into a nursing home or a long-term care facility.
“Despite the misperception that credit loses importance later in life, the fact remains that your credit score is a vital financial tool at every age,” Ken Chaplin, the TransUnion senior vice president, said in a press release. “Baby boomers need to prepare their credit score for retirement so they have the tools to fund financial obligations later in life.”
Retirees could also potentially use good credit to help out their children or grandchildren. According to Experian, baby boomers and their parents have the best credit scores among generations, averaging around 709, compared to Generation X (650) and millennials (625). Yet, only 61% of baby boomers surveyed by TransUnion said they recognized the importance of their credit score when it comes to co-signing on loans.
“As Americans age, good credit can not only help them finance medical expenses and long-term care, but also help them support children, grandchildren, and other family members as they take on middle-life expenses, like buying a house or paying for school,” Chaplin said.
TransUnion’s survey is based on responses from 1,037 employed baby boomers. It was conducted between Jan. 9 and Feb. 2.
Maintaining Good Credit in Retirement
Older generations typically have stronger credit because they’ve had more time to build up a credit history. But they still need to exhibit smart spending habits, like making loan payments on time and keeping debt levels low, to stay creditworthy. Doing so may appear tricky post-retirement since the paychecks aren’t coming in like they used to, but there are ways to get around a possible drop in income.
Chaplin suggested using a credit card for smaller purchases, like clothing or groceries, and paying them off in full each month to build and maintain good credit scores.
“Most retirees are past the point of making major purchases such as a new house or car,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean you should stop using your credit cards.”
Older generations can also consider getting this credit card pre-retirement, when their level of reportable income is higher so they’ll have an easier time getting approved.
You can see where your credit currently stands by viewing your two free credit scores each month on Credit.com. You can improve credit scores by checking your credit report for errors (go here to learn how to dispute one), identifying the factors that may be holding you back and creating a game plan to address them.
More on Credit Reports & Credit Scores:
- The Credit.com Credit Reports Learning Center
- What’s a Good Credit Score?
- How to Get Your Free Annual Credit Report