If you are past the age of retirement and living on a fixed income, you might wonder what all the fuss is about when it comes to credit scores for seniors. If you don’t plan on applying for another mortgage or car loan, do you really need to worry about whether or not you have good credit?
Even though your plans may involve staying away from the need for credit throughout retirement, circumstances can change at any given moment. Here are three specific instances where a good credit score could determine your ability to continue executing financial and lifestyle decisions the way you would like:
- Deciding to Rent Rather than Own
If you decide to sell your family home and rent an apartment in your later years, surprisingly enough, good credit might determine if you are accepted or not. While you may be able to explain your bills to income ratio to a kind prospective landlord who may overlook a credit check, many landlords do not accept applications from prospective tenants who do not meet a certain threshold when it comes to their credit rating. Additionally, when moving living locations, you may have to open an account with a new utility company. Your credit rating could determine the size of the deposit they require to turn on service at the address. You can avoid paying certain fees when your good credit can speak for itself.
- Experiencing a Medical Emergency
Regardless of your current health condition, a sudden development can overturn the best-laid financial plan. If you or even your partner must receive specialized care not covered by insurance, you may need to acquire a line of credit to meet the needs of your household. Seniors with bad credit or “unscorable” histories may be turned away from the credit or loan they desperately need, or they must pay a high interest rate to secure the funds.
- Helping Family Members
Disaster may not strike you directly, but what if an adult child or other relation finds themselves in dire financial circumstances? Many seniors would like the opportunity to help their family members through times of needs, and a good credit score can assist in that endeavor.
Tips on Improving Senior Credit
First of all, you can check your credit score for free three times per year at AnnualCreditReport.com. If your score isn’t where you’d like it to be, follow these three tips to gradually increase your credit rating over the next six to twelve months.
- Set Up Automated Payments
Use an active credit card to pay one regular monthly bill. Then set up an automatic payment to transfer from your checking account at the end of the month to clear the balance. If you’re used to living on cash rather than credit and would like to keep it that way, this is a responsible way to keep your credit card in use without risking abuse of the credit system.
- Understand Credit Utilization Ratio
If you do use your credit card regularly, never let a balance carry over from month to month that adds up to more than 30 percent of the total credit allowed. Keeping your credit utilization low will showcase responsibility to future prospective lenders.
- Keep Your Account Open
Just because you don’t use your credit card frequently doesn’t mean you should close the account. Credit bureaus examine how long borrowers keep their account active. Let longevity work in your favor and raise your credit score.
Good credit brings financial confidence and provides a back-up emergency plan for individuals of all ages, seniors included. Stay conscious of your credit rating and practice financial responsibility – it may pay off someday soon.