If the only time you think about your credit score is when your credit card application gets accepted or denied, it’s time to start paying attention.
That’s because your credit score could mean the difference between a life open to opportunities or one spent at the mercy of financial predators. And there are plenty of scenarios between those two extremes, too.
1. You can obtain credit easily
When you have a credit score in the good (670-739), very good (740-799), or excellent (800+) range, you become a more desirable customer to credit card companies, mortgage lenders, and banks offering the best terms.
On the other hand, when you have a poor (580 or below) credit score, you must usually accept whatever form of credit you can get. That means paying sky-high interest on payday and other loans, purchasing cars from buy-here-pay-here lots, and becoming a target of disreputable lenders.
2. You have a better shot at landing your dream job
Did you know that many employers run a credit and background check on applicants? The last thing you need is a sick feeling when the human resources staffer slides a credit check authorization form across the desk to sign.
When you have a good credit score, a credit check won’t hold you back from the job of your dreams.
3. You’ll receive better interest rates
A good to excellent credit score generally means lower interest rates on credit cards, loans, and other credit options. How much can you save with a lower interest rate? A lot.
For example, if you finance a 60-month auto loan for $20,000 at a 4.60% interest rate with $374 monthly payments, you’ll pay around $2,400 in interest over the life of the loan. Compare that to $3,311, the amount of interest you’d pay at a higher rate of 6.20% with monthly payments of about $388.
4. You’ll have your choice of better credit cards
Do you really want to be stuck with a $200 credit limit on a secured credit card because your credit score prevents you from upgrading to a better card? You’ll have a greater chance of approval for primo credit cards when you have very good to excellent credit.
We’re talking cards with 0% APR introductory offers, $150 to $750 sign-up bonuses and generous rewards and cash back programs.
5. You can purchase a nicer home
Whether you fantasize about mowing your lawn on a Saturday morning or lounging by the pool of your trendy condo, you’ll need good credit to purchase a home. The better your credit, the better your mortgage loan options.
For example, on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loan for $250,000 with a 3.8 % interest rate, total interest over the life of the loan would be $169,361. On the other hand, interest on the same loan amount with a 5.6% rate would be a whopping $266, 671.
6. You can finance a car with confidence
When your credit score is good, you won’t need to slink away from a car dealership that denied financing because of poor credit history. In fact, you may even be able to snag financing options reserved for those with the best credit.
That could mean 0% financing, a below-average interest rate, or a sizeable cash back offer on your new ride. Your financing options when you have poor credit are less favorable, and you’ll pay typically much higher interest on a loan – if you can get a loan at all.
7. Landlords love you
Apartment communities typically run a credit check on potential tenants. Even private landlords often ask tenants to authorize a background and credit check as part of the application process.
Good credit opens rental doors in safer neighborhoods and more convenient locations. Poor credit can slam the doors on prime rental properties, leaving you to simply take whatever space you can get.
8. You have better options for consolidating debt
Even people with excellent credit can acquire too much debt. However, the very thing that opened the door to higher credit card limits – a good to excellent credit score – can also help you pay down debt.
For instance, a person with good to excellent credit has a much better chance of being approved for a balance transfer to a credit card offering an introductory 0% APR. A balance transfer can allow you anywhere from 12 to 18 months to pay off a debt while it isn’t accruing interest.
9. You become better relationship material
Even if you don’t plan to buy a house with your main squeeze, you probably still want to live happily ever after. And being hounded by creditors, turned down for loans and denied credit cards isn’t part of anyone’s fairy tale.
Having a good credit score shows your potential soulmate that you know how to manage money, a sure sign of a real adult at least when it comes to finances.