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Having poor credit can make saving money and buying a house more difficult. Believe it or not, it can also put a strain on your love life.

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Having a low credit score can lead to higher interest rates, more expensive insurance, and other financial issues. But a poor credit score may also make finding the love of your life that much more difficult.

Among other problems in a relationship, poor credit could be a turnoff. In fairness, a lot of issues could cause poor credit: medical bills, divorce, or a big spender in a previous relationship.

But if you’re looking to make yourself more attractive (and pay a lot less for general expenses in the meantime), learn everything your credit score can affect, and how you can improve it.

A low credit score can lead to difficulty saving for emergencies

There is a new “middle class” in town, and their less-than-stellar credit scores are hurting their emergency savings.

Elevate, a company that focuses on consumers with low-to-moderate credit says nonprime Americans — or those with credit scores below 700 — can’t afford an unexpected expense. [1]

Those nonprime Americans have it worse than their good-credit peers. Half of nonprime Americans have month-to-month incomes that aren’t steady, and their income is significantly less than their prime friends.

According to Elevate, Americans with low credit scores can afford about a $1,400 expense, which equates to more than the cost of replacing a water heater ($950) but way less than the cost of a typical transmission for a car ($2,800). Americans with higher credit scores can afford up to a $2,900 expense.

And Americans with lower credit scores actually have more emergencies, says Elevate.

More than half — 53 percent — have three or more financial surprises a year. Only 28 percent of prime Americans have the same amount of financial surprises.

Is your credit rating holding you back? Find out how to fix it.

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A low credit score can make your love life difficult

As if dating wasn’t tough enough — some are turned off by a poor credit score.

More than 42 percent of survey respondents said that credit scores affect their interest in dating someone. The survey was done by financial advice website Bankrate, along with Princeton Survey Research Associates International. [2] One big reason is it’s an indicator of whether you’re responsible and stable.

And here’s the bad news, guys: Women are more judgmental when it comes to credit. In a survey of 1,000 American adults, half of the women and 35 percent of men say a credit score could have an impact on whether they’d find a date appealing.

The age group most concerned about their date’s credit is older millennials, between ages 27 and 36. On the flip side, 55 percent of younger millennials between 18 and 26 say that a person’s credit has no influence on their romantic pursuits.

The topic of credit scores does not typically come up on the first date, though, so you have time to work on it for that special someone. Most say they divulge credit scores after a few months of dating or after they’re engaged.

A low credit score can lead to problems buying a house

Researchers from LendingTree determined people with “fair” credit scores — generally 580-669, according to the report — will pay $45,283 more in interest over time than people with “very good” scores — 740-799. [3]

Saving this kind of money can go a long way in helping you manage your finances. So how does this break down into saving on one specific loan?

Of the types of loans LendingTree looked at, mortgages were logically the largest.

The average home lender bought a $234,437 house. And while poor credit doesn’t necessarily stop you from getting a home loan, you should know what it’ll cost you.

  • With a fair credit score: $226,266 in interest payments.
  • With a very good credit score: $197,161.

The difference? $29,106. Even a fraction of that could help you with a down payment on your next home. And down payments, according to a Debt.com report, are “one of the greatest hurdles to homeownership.”

What makes up your credit score?

Your credit score is determined by five key factors. Here’s how your FICO credit score is determined. FICO is used in more than 90 percent of lending decisions, according to a FICO spokesperson.

  1. Payment history: Have you paid your bills as agreed? If you haven’t, how severely have you missed payments and how recently has that occurred? This is the biggest driver of the borrower’s FICO score. It makes up about 35 percent of the FICO score calculation.
  2. Amounts owed: How much debt do you owe? It looks at credit cards and other revolving debts separately like student loans, mortgages and all other loans. Also, the utilization ratio, which is the percentage of available credit you’re using. How maxed out are you on your credit card? Higher levels of debt, higher utilization ratios, correspond to higher risks and therefore are generally lower FICO scores. This is the second-highest percentage and makes up 30 percent of your score.
  3. Length of credit history: The length of experience the consumer has managing credit. Someone with 20-something years of experience managing credit and paying their bills is going to be rewarded compared to someone who has just recently started using credit. This makes up 15 percent of the FICO score calculation.
  4. New credit: How often do you apply for credit? Applying more frequently for credit associates you with higher risks. Makes up 10 percent of a FICO score.
  5. Credit mix: Whether you’re managing credit across a variety of different credit products successfully. Managing both loan-type debts as well as credit card debts. The last 10 percent of the score.

How to get your credit report for free

Annualcreditreport.com is the most common place to go for a free credit report. [4] It’s a website mandated by the federal government where each of the three credit reporting bureaus — Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax — provides you with one free copy per year. That means you can check a different one every four months.

Bankrate also provides free credit reports and free credit scores, with no purchase required. [5] The reports are from Equifax, and the score is a VantageScore — not as good as the FICO scores. Fewer lenders pay attention to VantageScores. But both report and score are updated monthly, and free is free.

Discover users also get free monthly credit reports from TransUnion. [6]

What’s the difference between a report and a score? Reports document the facts of your credit history — a credit score boils all that down to a three-digit number so lenders can quickly compare you to other consumers. While ranges vary by scoring model, most scores fall between 300 and 850 and higher is better. Here are some other places to get free scores…

  1. Citibank cardholders can see their FICO score each month for free, which is pulled from their Equifax credit report. [7]
  2. Capital One has a tool called CreditWise that provides free access to your credit score and email alerts if your TransUnion credit report changes. [8]
  3. Chase Bank users can see their FICO for free with Chase Credit Journey. [9]
  4. Bank of America provides FICO scores for free to all of their cardholders online. [10]

How to improve your credit score

To start taking advantage of lower interest rates, cheaper insurance, and more savings, start working towards improving your credit score.

Here are five steps you should take to get back on track…

  1. Download your credit reports for free
  2. Review your credit reports
  3. Dispute any items that are incorrect
  4. Evaluate the negative information you’re up against
  5. Build credit by taking small strategic steps

For more information on how to complete these five steps, visit Debt.com’s resources to Fix Your Credit.

Cameren Boatner contributed to this report. 

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About the Author

Gideon Grudo

Gideon Grudo

Grudo is a freelance writer, editor, and content strategist based in Brooklyn, NY. Previously he was the digital editor of Air Force Magazine and the managing editor of South Florida Gay News.

Published by Debt.com, LLC