Home > Credit Score > Can a Gym Send You to Collections?

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You join a gym to get fit, but membership contracts and unexpected bills can potentially leave your credit score in bad shape. Fitness clubs may send your account to collections if you miss payments, turning misunderstandings into recurring problems and frequent reports to credit bureaus. Even years down the road, old debts from canceled gym memberships could come back to haunt you.

Complicated membership contracts often contain clauses that make it difficult to understand how to keep out of trouble. Fortunately, it’s easy to protect yourself when you have the right information and know what to look out for.

What You Need to Know About Your Gym Membership

Understanding the terms of your accounts and any potential credit implications is crucial to maintaining a healthy credit score. These are some of the most common questions about gym memberships and their potential impact on your credit.

Are gym memberships legally binding?

Despite claims made by many gyms that their memberships are risk-free and come with no commitments, gym contracts are legal documents and often require you to pay whether you’re using the facilities or not. It’s important to carefully read any contract you’re asked to sign to make sure you’re not getting more than you bargained for.

Can a gym membership affect your credit score?

Any missed payment can cause a drop to your credit score. Unexpected fees may put you into overdraft, and if your membership dues are paid automatically, you could run into trouble with an expired credit card. Accounts in arrears may be sent to a collection agency, resulting in ongoing pings against your credit rating until the debt is paid.

Can you get sent to collections without a Social Security number?

It’s a common misconception that credit bureaus require an SSN to process reports. Collections agencies only need your name and address, along with the amount owed, to start impacting your credit score.

How much do you have to pay to cancel Planet Fitness?

As of 2019, if you’re in the first year of a 12-month commitment with a Black Card membership, Planet Fitness charges a cancellation fee of $58. After the first year or with a commitment-free Classic plan, there is no fee to cancel your membership.

Keep Your Fitness Club Membership From Destroying Your Credit

Taking control of your personal finances starts with knowledge. These simple steps can help you protect yourself against many of the potential problems that might come with your gym membership.

1. Read and understand your contract

You may feel pressured by salespeople to sign a contract on the spot when you apply for a gym membership, but there’s no need to rush. Ask for time to read over the contract and make sure you know what you’re getting into.

Look out for some of these most important points that should be clearly addressed in your membership agreement.

  • How long are you obligated by the contract?
  • What happens if you decide to cancel? How much notice must you give? Are there penalties for canceling early?
  • Can you put your membership on hold, and if so, what are the procedures?

2. Keep a copy for your records

Once you’ve joined, make sure you save your contract along with any other documentation your gym gives you. You can keep all this information in a physical file folder or scan it and save it online. Just make sure you keep it for the duration of your membership.

3. Document changes

If you make any changes to your account—such as placing it on hold, adding a family member or canceling it—be sure to get those changes in writing and keep a copy alongside your contract. Keeping your information organized in one place makes it much easier to deal with any issues that arise.

4. Check your credit

If you do encounter a problem, check your free credit reports to see whether a collection account has been listed. It’s also a good idea to monitor your credit scores, which you can do for free at Credit.com. Checking your credit scores helps you keep tabs on your credit.

5. Know your rights

If you are contacted by a collection agency for one of these accounts, you have the right to receive a written notice of the debt and to dispute it. There are federal protections in place that give you options when dealing with debt collectors.

If it’s a very old account, it shouldn’t show up on your credit reports. Collection accounts can only be reported for 7 years plus 180 days from the date you fell behind with the original creditor before the account was turned over to collections. If an old collection account shows up in your reports, dispute it.

Free Yourself From Credit Doubts

Armed with the information you need to understand your contracts and credit concerns, you shouldn’t have to break a sweat to keep on top of your finances. Sign upfor a Credit Report Card and receive the latest tips and advice from Credit.com’s team of 50+ credit and money experts, as well as a free Credit Score and action plan.

 

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  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    A Social Security number is not required to report a debt to the credit reporting agencies.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I don’t know why there are two, unless one tried to collect and couldn’t, then sold it to another agency. You’ll have to get your credit reports to find out who is reporting.

    Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports.

    As for resolving it, I don’t have a simple answer for you. Your best bet would be to get the gym to pull it back from collections and allow you to pay them directly. See if a manager would be willing to work with you under the circumstances.

    If that doesn’t work, then you can try to negotiate with the collection agency but they aren’t under any obligation to remove it if you pay it. We’ve written more about that here: Removing Collection Accounts from Your Credit Reports

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Hard to say. Who did this? You may want to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (And no, a creditor doesn’t need your SSN to report to the credit reporting agencies. It is helpful but not always required.)

  • Jen

    okay so here’s my question. what happens after 7years. Can they still
    persure it and if you cancelled the gym membership and paid the fee then
    how can they have a collector calling you with a legitimate bill? Esp.
    if its been 7 plus year and you’ve gone and moved around the country,
    and bought a house. Its not shown up on any credit reports… How does
    this debt collector have any leg to stand on?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    It’s possible that because you were a minor at the time there is no enforceable contract with you. If your mother signed the contract then they could try to collect from her. That also means her credit can be damaged by the collection account.

    As far as reporting on your (or her) credit reports goes, most collectors report fairly quickly after they pick up a debt. But we also hear from consumers who have a collection account appear on their credit reports several years after the fact so it’s hard to say.

  • Dan Bianco

    What about a situation where you cancel your membership two weeks before your next payment is due but the gym still says they will charge you for the next month… if you cancel the credit card on your account and just don’t go to the gym, do you legally “owe” them? In this situation, they would merely be trying to charge me for something I don’t want and didn’t use.

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      What does your contract say? Some require a certain amount of notice of a cancellation.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Very interesting question. So interesting we explored it in a post here:
    Can a Debt Collector Come After Me for My Ex’s Gym Membership?

    Thanks for asking!

  • Hawk

    We toss contract but have membership cards that will help? We move to different states and 2,000 miles away. Cant go there in person to cancelled the membership. We planning to closed bank account and concern if they will report debt collecting and ruin my credit. Question should we write letter to Headquarter cancel the membership and stop charges.

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      Depending on the terms of your contract and what’s required to cancel, an unpaid gym membership can wind up in collections and wind up hurting your credit score, yes. If you cancel over the phone, ask the rep to send an email confirmation and also outline any balance you might owe. If the debt goes to collections, you can find more about your rights here:

      https://www.credit.com/debt/top-10-debt-collection-rights/

      Thanks,

      Jeanine

      Thanks,

      Jeanine

  • Cindy

    Hello, my mom and I signed up for a gym membership and she was the one to sign the contract and use her credit card for the payments, we then switched over the information to my debit card and I cancelled my card because I lost it. But I’m not sure if I want to give them my new card information because the membership is very expensive and I don’t have the money for it right now. Will that affect my mom in anyway if I don’t keep on paying for the duration of the contract?

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      If the account were to go to collections, both parties who signed the contract could wind up with it on their credit report and if the collector or the creditor were to try to sue for the debt, the same could be said as well, unfortunately. You may want to call the gym and see if you have options regarding putting the membership on hold or transferring it to your name. Here are some general tips, too, for negotiating with creditors that could come in handy if the account did wind up in collections:

      https://www.credit.com/debt/ten-tips-for-negotiating-with-creditors/

      Thanks,

      Jeanine

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